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Manchester/North Central

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Albert Square in front of Manchester's town hall

North Central Manchester covers the area in central Manchester north of Piccadilly Gardens and east of Quay St and Peter St. It covers the locals of the Millennium Quarter, Deansgate, Albert square, and St. Ann's Square as well as the newly developed business district of Spinningfields.

After the devastation of the 1996 IRA bombing, the area around Exchange Square has been completely redesigned and rebuilt as the Millennium Quarter. The square itself is a juxtaposition of Manchester's industrial heritage with the height of modern art and architecture. The ultra-modern Urbis centre stands side-by-side with the medieval Cathedral and the renovated Triangle shopping centre, once Manchester's corn exchange.

Deansgate is like the spine of Manchester, a mile-long perfectly-straight road that joins the site of Roman Mancunium in Castlefield to the site of Medieval Manchester at the Cathedral, connecting all the districts of the city centre together. About half way along Deansgate is the beginnings of Manchester's new business district, Spinningfields, which offers new eating places ,of which some are by the riverside. There is a pleasant grassed area by the law courts.

St. Ann's Square is the focus of Manchester's upmarket shopping district. It is usually packed with shoppers and usually the odd one or two street entertainers. The Council holds many events in the square, including specialist markets and musical events.

Market Street forms the southern focus of the main shopping district running between Cross Street and Piccadilly Gardens.

Arndale Centre currently the largest city centre indoor shopping centre in the UK, and 6th largest overall.

St Peter's Square contains the war memorial and Manchester Peace Garden. It also commemorates the church which once stood here and the infamous Peterloo Massacre.

Albert Square the main focus of the city's political heart bordered by the town hall.

Get in[edit]

Map of the Metrolink City Zone

By bus[edit]

Shudehill is the principle Manchester bus station for services towards the north and east of the city centre. Services from the south and east generally terminate at Piccadilly Gardens, a short walk or tram ride just to the south of the area towards Manchester Piccadilly railway station.

By car[edit]

The area contains many pedestrianised streets and a one-way system with access restricted to the trams, buses/taxis and the free city centre bus services. Multi-storey car parks are generally found around the edges of the city centre, as well as within the Arndale Centre, at Shudehill and the Great Northern. Discounts are available for those attending any of the theatres/venues in the city centre depending on the venue so it is worth checking beforehand to avoid paying the high city centre premium.

By tram[edit]

St Peter's Square stop is south of the town hall and is on the lines towards Altrincham, East Didsbury, Eccles and MediaCityUK via Deansgate-Castlefield (located at the far south-western end of Deansgate). Services will extend to Manchester Airport in 2016, until then coach services from the airport directly serve Shudehill or train services operate to Manchester Piccadilly to the south. In the other direction trams go to either Market Street (heading north to Victoria), or Piccadilly Gardens, (then on to Manchester Piccadilly and head to Droylsden in the east).

Market Street stop is on the line to Manchester Victoria station which then head towards Bury and Rochdale railway station via Oldham. Services also head directly south to Piccadilly Gardens.

Shudehill stop is co-located with the main bus station for services to the north and west. It is the nearest stop for the Northern Quarter and Printworks. It is between the Market Street and Victora station stops.

Victoria stop is located in Manchester Victoria railway station providing interchange with mainline rail services. It is located at the north-eastern end of Deansgate.

By train[edit]

Most trains heading towards locations north-east of the city operate via Manchester Victoria. Located to the south of this area is Manchester Piccadilly, the main station in the city which is served by services from all over the country. One of the key drivers behind the Manchester Metrolink tram system was the need to link the 2 principal termini and allow for through ticketing.

Getting around[edit]

Walking[edit]

The city centre is a compact area so most of it is easily accessible within 20-30 minutes.

Bus[edit]

To complement and supplement the Metrolink network, a network of 3 free Metroshuttle bus routes operate in the city centre connecting all areas, major car parks and axial routes not served by the tram. These operate Mon-Fri from 7am to 7pm (Route 1 till 6pm), Saturday 8am to 7pm, and Routes 1 and 2 on Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 6pm.

Tram[edit]

Rail tickets purchased within the local travel area will usually state Manchester CTLZ which permits free travel with the city zone of Metrolink (bounded by Deansgate-Castlefield, Victoria and Piccadilly). Otherwise tickets must be bought before boarding a tram at the machines located on each platform. All the Metrolink trams are high floor (900mm platforms) so can only stop to pick-up/drop-off at the designated stops.

See[edit][add listing]

Manchester Cathedral
  • Manchester Cathedral, Cathedral Yard (Visitor Centre at 10 Cateaton Street, around the corner), ph: (0161) 835 4030 (email: peter.mellor@manchestercathedral.org; fax: 0161 834 5397), [1]. Cathedral Mon-Fri 8AM-7PM, Sat 8AM-5PM, Sun 8:30AM-7:30PM, check web site for service times and events; Visitor Centre is open Mon-Sat 10AM-4:30PM, Sun 11:30AM-4PM. One of the few surviving medieval buildings in Manchester, the cathedral is a beautiful, dark Gothic building inside and out. In recent years, it has acquired a modern interactive Visitor Centre built around the excavations of the medieval Hanging Bridge with an excellent licensed restaurant and gift shop. Entry to all attractions is free.
  • Chetham's School of Music & Library, Long Millgate, ph: (0161) 834 7961 (email:librarian@chethams.org.uk; fax: 0161 839 5797), [2]. Library Mon-Fri 9AM-12:30PM, 1:30-4:30PM, closed Bank Holidays, call in advance; School is closed to general public. Chetham's is an independent private school of music and public library housed in the medieval priests' college next to the Cathedral. The library is the oldest public English library in the world. It is possible to look around without an appointment, but if you want to take a look at any of the collection, you will need to arrange this with the librarian beforehand. Free.
Manchester's impressive Urbis centre (currently closed)
  • John Rylands Library, Deansgate, [3]. After closing for refurbishment, the John Rylands Library is now open to the public. It now has access to all floors and a new entrance and cafe to the side of the building on Spinningfields. The John Rylands library is a beautifully-dark Gothic archive bang in the middle of the new business district. It is home to a number of special collections, many of which are now on display including the celebrated St. Johns Fragment, Papyrus P52 — possibly the oldest piece of the New Testament in existence. The library's magnificent Reading Room has been opened up so visitors are free to wander around it. There is also an exhibition floor which shows off some of the jewels of the collection. Don't confuse this library with John Rylands University Library, which is the library at the university and is not at all interesting (or open) to tourists.
  • The Opera House, Quay Street, 0161 828 1700. Cut price Palace.  edit
  • People's History Museum, The Pump House, Bridge Street, 0161 839 6061 (email: info@peopleshistorymuseum.org.uk; fax: 0161 839 6027), [4]. Tue-Sun and Bank Holidays 11AM-4:30PM. This little museum down by the river on the border of Manchester and Salford aims to document the way the lives of ordinary people have developed since the industrial revolution. The museum owns many artifacts and documentation from the history of socialism in Britain, not least the building where the Trades Union Congress held its first meeting, on Princess Street, which it now uses as a public archive. Free.
  • Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, 0161 234 5000, [5], Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM, call in advance to make sure. This imposing and beautiful neo-Gothic masterpiece by Alfred Waterhouse is the official headquarters of the Manchester City Council, but its job is largely ceremonial now. Most of the offices have moved to the more practical extension next door. The Town Hall shows the power Manchester commanded during the peak of the Industrial Revolution with its grand rooms and lavish decoration, including the famous Madox Murals in the Great Hall. Free entry, a small fee for guided tours.
  • Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, 0161 235 8888 (fax: 0161 235 8899), [6]. Tue-Sun 10AM-5PM and bank holidays except Christmas, New Year, and Good Friday. The principal wing is the work of Sir Charles Barry, also architect of the House of Parliament. Manchester's central art gallery is home to a huge collection of 19th Century and earlier works, including paintings by Canaletto, Constable, Turner, and Burne-Jones, as well as more complete collections by other artists. It has also been home to a number of original exhibitions over the last few years and the city's own art from all ages is well-represented within. There are important collections of world ceramics and English silver. Free.
  • Central Library & Theatre, St Peter's Square, 0161 234 1900, [7]. Department opening hours vary, see web site. You can't miss this striking circular neo-Classical building when passing through St. Peter's Square. It's worth a few minutes of your time inside to see how the circular theme is carried on throughout, especially in the beautiful social-sciences library on the first floor. The Henry Watson music library was the place of re-discovery of the manuscripts of Vivaldi's celebrated 'Manchester' concerti. The library has its own theatre company, who perform regularly in the basement theatre. Free.
The Central Library and Theatre
  • St. Mary's The Hidden Gem, Mulberry Street (go through an ugly concrete building in Lincoln Square — it really is the hidden gem). Mon-Wed, Fri 8AM-4PM, Thu 8AM-6PM, Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun 10AM-2PM (services Mon-Fri 12:30PM, Sat noon and 5:15PM, Sun 10:15AM and noon). This little traditional Catholic church dates from 1794, making it the oldest purpose-built post-Reformation Catholic church in England. It is an active church, with the largest congregation of any of the city-centre churches in Manchester. Inside is a modern "Stations of the Cross" by Norman Adams that is considered one of the greatest works of art in Manchester. Please remember that this is a place of Roman Catholic worship: modest dress is expected and photography is forbidden. The church is closed to tourists during services. Free.
  • St. Ann's Church, St Ann Street, (verger) 0161 834 0239 (parish office email: elindsay@fish.co.uk), [8]. Sun-Sat daytime, check web site for service times. St. Ann's Church is the main parish church of Manchester and one of only two surviving Medieval churches in the city centre (the other is the cathedral). It is also a venue for many sacred and secular classical music events. A small shop selling books and gifts is open at all times except during services. Free.
  • Royal Exchange, St. Ann's Square, 0161 833 9833, [9]. Mon-Sat 9:30 AM - Late (depending on length of evening's performance). The neo-classical Royal Exchange was the commercial heart of Manchester's and therefore the world's cotton trade. The main trading hall, essentially a neo-Roman basilica, was at one time the largest commercial room in the world. It fell into disuse in the 1960s, but was rescued in the 1970s by the restoration of the building and the addition of an ultra-modern theatre in-the-round for Sir Robert D.H. Scott's '69 (now Royal Exchange) theatre Company. It stands in the centre of the main trading floor, squatting like an alien invader's spaceship, but is actually supported on the hall's load bearing columns. Ill-disposed members of the audience sitting in the theatre's surrounding on-stage banquette seats are well-placed to trip the actors up physically. Extensive wine merchant cellars have now been converted into a shopping centre and the wings surrounding the theatre hall contain offices and Barristers' chambers. Pop in during the day for a coffee or something stronger at the tranquil and elegant licensed cafe in the main hall: the entrance is up the stairs in St. Ann's Square or on Cross Street. As well as the wonderfully-restored interior and three dramatic coloured-glass domes, you can admire the trading board, which still shows the price of cotton around the world on the last day of trading in 1969. There is also a small, expensive craft shop inside. Free entry to theatre building, theatre tickets vary.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • The Printworks, entrances on Withy Grove and Thomas Street, ph: 0871 230 5556 (email: info@theprintworks.com; fax: 0871 230 5557), [10]. Attraction opening times vary. Originally the home of Manchester's newspaper offices, the Printworks is now a covered street where it's night time all day long. It is the home of several well-known restaurants and drinking establishments, as well as a large Odeon cinema, home of Manchester's IMAX screen.

Buy[edit][add listing]

From late November to Christmas, a large Christmas market sets up in Albert Square and on the streets leading up to it. The market runs from 16 Nov - 20 Dec and is open everyday from 10AM to 8PM. In Albert Square, the market is open until 9PM. Traders come from across Europe to set up their stalls in wooden chalets. For the best experience, go at night and enjoy a nice glass of Glühwein (mulled wine) and some Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and then huddle around and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • The Angel Pub, 6 Angel Street, M4 4BQ, 0161 833 4786, [11]. A traditional English pub situated just off the Rochdale road, Manchester city centre. We serve real ales, fine wines and highly acclaimed food prepared by award winning celebrity chef Robert Owen Brown.  edit
  • Wagamamas, Printworks.
  • Hard Rock Cafe, Printworks.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • The Angel Pub, 6 Angel Street, M4 4BQ, 0161 833 4786, [12]. A traditional English pub situated just off the Rochdale road, Manchester city centre. We serve real ales, fine wines and highly acclaimed food prepared by award winning celebrity chef Robert Owen Brown.  edit
  • 42nd Street [13], Bootle Street. Previously owned by the late football legend George Best, it plays a mixture of classic and modern indie, 60's pop and 70's funk & soul. The entrance is free before 10:30pm and the drinks are cheap.
  • Tiger Lounge, 5 Cooper Street.[hhtp://www.tiger-lounge.com]
  • Park Night Club, 94-96 Grosvenor St, [14]. One of the hottest clubs in town, famous for its hip African beats, killer sound system and cocktail mixes.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Holiday Inn
  • Roomzzz Aparthotel Manchester (Hotel in Manchester), 36 Princess Street, M1 4JY, 0844 499 4888, [15]. Combining the best features of boutique hotels and serviced apartments, we've a luxury hotel Manchester, perfect for short term affordable accommodation.  edit


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