Unique Places in Manchester

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Manchester

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    Ordsall Hall: Tudor haven in Salford

    by tvor Updated Apr 18, 2014

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    There's a very old house in Salford, on Orsall Lane close to Salford Quays. The hall dates from the 12th century and there are still an old wattle and daub wall that dates from there. There are rooms that are Elizabethan in age but the hall has been changed and renovated a number of times since it was first built.

    After a recent refurbishment, Ordsall Hall has reopened with more of it open to the public than when I first saw it in 2001. The Great Hall has a wonderful oriel window with some medieval stained glass sigils. The Star Chamber is the most interesting. The fireplace still has marks in the stone hearth where people might have sharpened their swords. There's a suit of armour there as well. There's another bedroom, a solar, on an upper floor that has an exquisite white Elizabethan style dress. There is also a good display of a restored kitchen set up as a Victorian kitchen on the ground floor.

    Upstairs there are some exhibitions and a gallery. The Hall is used a lot for school visits. There is a small cafe and a few things to buy. The museum is free to enter.

    The easiest way to get there is taking the tram to the Exchange Quay station which is only a few hundred yards past the Colgate factory. Go down Ordsall lane around to your right.

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    Midland Hotel

    by suvanki Updated Nov 9, 2013

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    Built in 1903,by the Midland Railway Company, this Grade 2 listed Grand Hotel was to be the 'sister hotel' to St Pancras Hotel in London. Built opposite Manchester Central Railway station, which was the northern terminus of the railway line from St Pancras Station, it attracted wealthy businessmen and traders, who had travelled to Cottonopolis. A theatre and Roof Terrace were a couple of the hotels features along with a couple of award winning restaurants.
    American traders did business here, selling raw cotton to the mill owners.
    In 1904, it was to be the venue for a meeting between Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce, which led to the formation of Rolls Royce Limited. A couple of plaques in the entrance mark this event.

    Other illustrious visitors have been Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, "who was the first crowned head to dine in a public restaurant". (The Trafford Restaurant)., Lord Olivier and Judy Garland. The Beatles DIDN'T get to dine in the French Restaurant at the Midland, due to their 'unsuitable attire'
    However, one Victoria Adams had her 'first date' here with David Beckham, when the Spice Girls were playing a concert in Manchester - yes, Posh Spice and Becks would no doubt have dressed to impress!

    So, Today, it is still one of the places to spot the 'rich and famous/infamous' guests that stay here.

    During our 'Underground Manchester' guided walk, that leaves from the front of the Midland Hotel, we were told that Hitler had plans to use this as the North West Nazi HQ if they had invaded England.
    Apparently, he had dined in the one time German Restaurant (Which hastily became a French Restaurant following WW!), and was quite taken with the building.
    There are stories that he instructed Luftwaffe pilots to avoid bombing the building, and it did survive the Manchester Blitz.
    How true any of this is I'm not sure, but it makes a good story.

    Peter Street, Manchester M60 2DS

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    Cold War Atomic Bunker- Guardian Exchange

    by suvanki Written Dec 2, 2012

    PostWW2, Manchester along with the rest of Britain was in fear of a 'Cold War ' nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.

    This bunker was built secretly, by Polish Workers, between 1949-1954, amongst the general construction that was going on after the destruction from the WW2 blitzes on Manchester. It was fundeded by NATO at a cost of 4 Million GBP (£225 Million or there abouts today) Apparently the idea for using Polish workers was that as they didn't speak English, they couldn't tell anyone what they were doing!!!

    I visited this site during the NMW 2 hour guided 'Underground Manchester' walk.

    The plan was to have a place where communications could continue, and the politicians and dignitaries of Manchester would be protected here. The idea was that they would be safe if they could remain her for 6 weeks after a nuclear attack on the city!
    So, there was a store of 6 weeks of food. Entertainment in the form of an upright piano and a snooker table. Walls were painted in pleasant colours, with 'outside views'

    From the bunker, there were a couple of tunnels that reached Salford and Ardwick as escape routes.

    Today, the building and tunnels are owned by BT (British Telecommunications) who use the tunnels etc for laying their cables.

    This building is securily protected by razor wire and concreted entrances

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    Historical bits.......

    by leics Updated Nov 25, 2012

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    There are some less obvious historical bits of architecture remaining in the city centre ro be found, if you keep your eyes open.

    Look down side-streets, always look up....and look further than the modern shop frontages.

    Occasionally, you can still get a glimpse of the grimy, cramped Victorian powerhouse that Manchester once was.

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    The power and the glory

    by leics Updated Nov 25, 2012

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    Victorian and Edwardian architecture, in its prime (roughly 1850-1910) was all about showing how wealthy and powerful you were......how reliable, how trustworthy, how 'solid'.

    Even if you were only building a factory.....it had to say 'this is a solid company, one you can safely do business with'.

    You can see examples of this type of architecture everywhere in England, and Manchester city centre is no exception.

    The massive Gothic pile of the Town Hall is, of course, a prime example of Victorian ostentation.......but there are plenty more dotted around.

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    Hollingworth Lake

    by Pomocub Written Sep 1, 2012

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    Hollingworth Lake was built in 1804 to supply water to the Rochdale Canal, the lake is surrounded by a vast country side which includes lots of hiking trails, camping sites and a water activity centre.

    There is an old rumour that the lake was built over the top of an old town and when the lake starts to evaporate in the hot summer months people have said that they have seen the top of the old church spire starting to pierce through the water.

    Hollingworth Lake is very dog friendly and most people walking round the lake will be accompanied by a dog, the walk around the lake itself is 1 and a half miles long and as you walk further around the leg you will find yourself in a woodland area where you can stroll off the main walk into some of the purpose built bird watching areas.

    The Water Activity Centre on Lake Bank caters for groups and individuals wanting instruction in windsurfing, dinghy sailing and other water-based sports, and also arranges training for groups in mountain biking and climbing.

    The wider Country Park has plenty of walking routes, from easy strolls around the lake shore to sturdier trecks in the surrounding hills. Guidebooks can be bought at the visitors centre which will show you all of the different walks available.

    Parking at Hollingworth Lake can sometimes be quite difficult, there are 2 main car parks which are pay and display. This means that you have to purchase your parking ticket when you park up your car, stick it to your car window and be back in your car before the ticket expires. The main car park is in the Fayre and Square pub which you will probably see first as you come to the lake.

    2nd car park - Continue forward towards "The Wine Press" pub (Bikers pub) and turn left just before you get to it - there is the 2nd car park.

    I would highly recommend NOT parking on the main road near opposite the lake or in the residential streets beside the lake as ticket wardens are almost guaranteed to be there especially on sunny days and at the weekend.

    You can get the number 452, 455 & 456 bus from Rochdale bus station to Hollingworth Lake. You can get the number 17 bus from Manchester Shudehill to Rochdale bus station if you are coming from the city centre.

    You can get the buses 452 & 455 if you are coming from Littleborough.

    Address: Hollingworth Lake Visitors Centre, Rakewood Road, Littleborough, Rochdale, OL15 0AQ.

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    Springfield Park (Rochdale)

    by Pomocub Updated Sep 1, 2012

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    Springfield park is a local park which is located between the towns of Heywood and Rochdale in the suburbs of Manchester. The park is relatively small in comparison to other Manchester parks but still has some great qualities.

    In the center of the park is a lake which is home to geese, ducks and other small birds. There is a small fence around the lake and visitors are encouraged not to climb over this but the birds and geese can still be fed. There is a children's play area and usually an ice cream van on site.

    There are Tennis courts and a small football court which can be used completely free of charge and over the hill of the park looking downwards there is a running track.

    I come here often to walk my dogs and is beautiful in the winter months when the lake is frozen over, it is also very nice in the summer too.

    There is no entrance fee to the park and there are many car parking spaces too which are free of charge. As the park is located on a main road you would also be able to get there by bus too. You could get here using the bus 471 from Rochdale bus station and you could get from Manchester Shudehill to Rochdale bus station on the number 17 bus.

    It is a nice little place to stop if you are in and around the area and you want to see some town folk.

    Address: Marland Fold, Rochdale, Lancs, OL11 4RF

    DIRECTIONS FROM ROCHDALE

    Follow A58 Rochdale to Bury. After Tesco (Sudden) approximately 500 metres, the entrance to the park is on the right opposite the 'Success To the Plough' Public House/ Restaurant.

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    Heaton Park

    by Pomocub Written Jul 30, 2012

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    Heaton Park is located in Prestwich and is easily accessible by tram. Infact, the tram station for Heaton Park is located right across the road from one of the main entrances. Due to the size of the park there are several entrances. As a child I would reguarly come to the park with my family and as an adult I still come back to walk my dogs or to have a picnic or a game of football with friends in the nice weather.

    Inside the park is Heaton Hall which is a grade listed house. The house was closed down for many years but has been recently restored and now open to the public free of charge. Heaton Hall is famous for the bronze lions that guard the old entrance to the home.

    Up near Heaton Hall is also the farm which is home to farm animals such as ducklings, pigs, goats. Entrance to the farm is free of charge.

    The boating lake is a popular attraction in the park and is home to many ducks, swans and other types of birds. During the hot summer months the lake is open and rowing boats can be hired and you can have a leisurely row around the lake.

    Fairs are held at the Park during Halloween and Bonfire night. Bonfire night in the park can be particularly fun as each year there is a huge firework display.

    During the weekends you are usually charged to park your car in the car park. This usually ranges from 50p- £1.00 so isn't very much. During the week and during the winter months parking is free.

    There are plenty of places to get refreshments at the park, including cafes, hot dog stalls and ice cream vans.

    Entrances to the park include: Sheepfoot Lane (Boating Lake Entrance), St Margaret's Road, Middleton Road and Bury Old Road.

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    Roman Manchester

    by ettiewyn Updated Jul 7, 2012

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    As the ending ...chester indicates, Manchester started out as a Roman town. A Roman fort named Mancunium was founded here in 79A.D. after the Romans had occupied this region which was formerly the territory of the Brigantes. The Romans left about 350 years later, but some of the remains of the settlement can still be seen in the west of Manchester, in an area appropriately called Castlefield.

    You can especially see copies of the remains of the fort that was located here. There were in fact four different forts that succeeded each other, the first one being just a timber structure, the last one being a stone building with a timber palisade and surrounded by ramparts.

    There is actually not that much to see here: Some stone foundations and embankments, and a big gate. This was the north gate which has been completely reconstructed. There are some plaques providing information, too.
    However, although it was a bit disappointing that there was not more to see, I still found it good to visit. After all, this is the very place where the city of Manchester was born, and it is good to see this place and to remember that there is so much more to Manchester's history!

    Unfortunately, it was quite hard to find the Roman sites. I went to Castefield, but then the signs just pointed to a circle, and I had to ask several locals until I finally found it. In the end, that was really silly, because if you know where it is, it is not hard to get there at all. The exact location can be found on googlemaps: Click here

    Address: Liverpool Road
    Directions: Castlefield, close to MOSI

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    Ordsall Hall

    by ettiewyn Updated Jul 7, 2012

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    Ordsall Hall has its origins about 850 years ago, but the present building dates back to the 15th century. It is a wonderful tudor style building and former stately home, and it was fantastic to find such a historical building so close to Old Trafford Stadium and modern Salford Quays.

    The first written record of the name Ordsall is from 1177 (then as Ordeshala), and the building was first mentioned in 1251. It came into the possession of the Radclyffe family in the 1330s, and remained with this family for over 300 years. In 1512, the great hall was constructed - the occasion being that Alexander Radclyffe had become High Sherrif of Lancashire. In 1599 a girl of the family became maid of honour of Queen Elizabeth I! Legends also has it that this was the place where Guy Fawkes planned his plot, but there is no proof of that.
    In the end of the 17th century, Ordsall Hall was sold and from then it often changed owners. In the 19th century it became home of a Working Men's Club, and then a gymnasium! In 1959 it was finally acquired by Salford City Council and thirteen years alter, after a lot of restoration work, it was opened to the public.

    The exterior of the hall is very beautiful and interesting, and it is surrounded by pretty gardens.
    Inside, you can walk around the different rooms of the hall, but I must say that there is not too much to see. I was a bit disappointed because I had expected a little more furniture or other things - the rooms are almost empty. It is still nice to see the architecture, though, especially the great hall with its wooden beams and its high ceiling. I could not take more picture there because there was a school group doing a project, and there is a sign pointing out that it is not allowed to take pictures with children in them.

    There is also a small café and shop, I had an avocado sandwich there. Staff in the café and at the hall in general were very friendly and dedicated.

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    Elizabeth Gaskell's house

    by ettiewyn Updated Jul 7, 2012

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    Elizabeth Gaskell is a British author who lived in the 19th century and who moved to Manchester in 1832. She was married to William Gaskell, a minister of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester. She wrote her first novel there in the 1840s, and in 1850 she, her husband and her children moved to 84 Plymouth Grove in the south of Manchester. By then, she was a well-known writer, and had many visitors - people who visited Plymouth Grove are for example her close friend Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
    Elizabeth Gaskell died in 1865, but the house in Plymouth Grove remained with the Gaskell family until 1913. It then fell into disrepair, but restoration has commenced in 2004 and is still carried out. Up to now, it is only possible to visit the interior of the house on very few occasions, but I went there nevertheless and had a look at the exterior. It is a very fine house in regency style and it was a magical feeling to think that this is where Gaskell and Bronte met! The building is Grade II listed and so far the exterior is beautifully restored, but there still needs to be done a lot of work inside, as well as in the garden. The restoration is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, and one of the Patrons of the project is actress Dame Judi Dench!

    Gaskell is maybe the fifth most popular British woman writer of this era, after Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters - but what really distinguished her from them is that she wrote with a political agenda. For example, her novel Ruth deals with the fate of a young girl who is seduced by a rich man and doomed by society which abandons her. The novel exposes the bigotry of the high society, and men especially. In the end, there is no man on a white horse rescuing Ruth, like in all the Austen novels, but Ruth dies because there is no chance for her in this world.
    Mary Barton was Gaskell's first novel, and is worth reading especially if you want to travel to Manchester, as it takes place in the city. Mary is a young girl working in a cotton factory. While the honest worker Jem is in love with her, she falls for rich Harry, the son of a factory owner. She dreams of marrying him and becoming rich, but suddenly everything becomes very complicated as her father gets involved in the Chartists revolts and is accused of murder... Mary, who tries to help, is soon entangled in a web of dangers and secrets...
    Mary Barton was the first of the Industrial Novels, and it already showed Gaskell's ambition: To show the world as it really was, and how dangerous it was for women, to point out the differences between the classes and how much communication and understanding between the classes was needed. She paints a vivid picture of Manchester in the 19th century, and reading the book helped me a lot to understand the political struggles of that time.

    You can get a leaflet about the house at the tourist information in the city centre.
    When the restoration will be finished one day, I will certainly call again to visit the interior!


    Address: 84 Plymouth Grove
    Directions: Southeast of the city centre, close to the university. There are many busses going there.

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    Framework at Ordsall Hall

    by ettiewyn Updated Jul 7, 2012

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    This is an Off The Beaten Path tip within an Off The Beaten Path tip!

    When you visit Ordsall Hall, make sure you climb the narrow staircase up to the attic. There you can see some of the original timber framing. The wooden beams are exposed, and in some places you can see how the timber framing was made: You can see the wattle and daub, the thin wooden sticks that have been fixed with a mixture of different materials.
    I am not really knowledgeable at this and therefore will leave it at this explanation, but I found it very interesting to see.

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    St Mary's Church

    by ettiewyn Written Jul 4, 2012

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    St Mary's Church is called Manchester's hidden gem, and that she is indeed. From the outside, it does not look too beautiful - hidden between other buildings, made of bricks, a little run down... It looks very plain.
    But then you enter, and it takes your breath away. The interior is so, so, so beautiful - it really is hard to believe that such a jewel is hiding within this plain brick building.

    The church was originally built in 1794 and was re-built around forty years later because the roof had collapsed. The interior, though, only took shape in 1869 when a sculptor was engaged to design a new interior for St Mary's. The interior and the sculptures are made of caen stone and marble, giving it a white and clear look. It looks very polished and pure. There are many shrines and statues of different saints. As I said, when I saw the church from the outside, I did not expect too much, but entering, I was utterly surprised!

    I can't remember the exact reason why I did not take any pictures within the church - either it is prohibited in general, or there was a mass. You can see some pictures if you visit their website.

    Opening times: from 10am daily

    Address: Mulberry Street
    Directions: City centre

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    Pankhurst Centre

    by ettiewyn Updated Jun 30, 2012

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    The Pankhurst Centre is located in the former childhood of Emmeline Pankhurst and is devoted to the life and work of this famous British women's rights activist and her daughters.

    It is only a very small museum. First you can watch a short film about Pankhurst's life and what she did, then you can have a look around a room displaying some information boards, many pictures and some things that belonged to her. I was done in about fifteen minutes, but it was still very interesting. To think that her ideas and demands created an outrage just a hundred years ago makes you aware of how quickly society changed, and how much we take for granted that was not even possible some decades ago.

    The museum is only one part of the Pankhurst Centre, most of all it is a women's community centre.

    Admission free!
    Opening times: Monday to Thursday 10.00am to 04.00pm

    Address: 60 - 62 Nelson Street
    Directions: University area, south of the city centre

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    Chopin Memorial

    by ettiewyn Updated Jun 30, 2012

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    While walking to Rylands Library, I came across this monument and had a closer look because I thought it looked interesting. I found that it was a fascinating memorial, dedicated to composer Frédéric Chopin. The memorial commemorates the fact that Chopin gave a concert in Manchester on the 28th of August 1848. He was very ill, but insisted on giving the concert, and therefore earned the love and respect of the people of Manchester.

    The monument was designed by Polish artist Robert Sobocinski and unveiled in 2011. It includes bronze material from 1831, the year Chopin left his home country Poland and went to exile in Paris because the Polish rebellion to become independent from Russia had failed.
    The open lid of the piano shows a battle scene commemorating these events, and next to the piano there is Chopin's lover, Baroness Aurore Lucile Dupon, who is depicted as an eagle as a symbol of Poland. Thus, the monument is not only a memorial of Chopin, but also a celebration of Manchester's Polish community and heritage.

    Address: Deansgate
    Directions: Opposite of Rylands Library, in the southern part of the city centre

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