Manchester: a musical city with industrial swagger
For our #ThrowbackThursday article, we’ve picked an old favourite about Manchester, a northern musical hub with great hostels and cool urban architecture…
Bursting with a legendary music culture, savvy Manchester continues to forge its image as the UK’s most electric hotspot outside of London. Lying closely to Lancashire’s breezy Pennine Moors, the unofficial capital of the North has quick connections to Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds.
Exploding out of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester became a major manufacturing force towards the end of the 18th century, with close-knit communities forming around its in-demand cotton mills and textile industries. The city’s economy then shuddered to an abrupt halt in the post-war years.
While Manchester’s identity was in limbo in the late 70s and early 80s, bands like Joy Division and The Smiths gave it an unusual bleak glamour, until the house mash-ups of the “Madchester” scene re-sprayed its image with a vibrant energy that continues to sparkle.
With much of the nation’s media migrating to Salford Quays and cash investments flowing from modern industry, the old industrial spaces of the city centre have been reclaimed for funkier uses than churning out knickers.
Lose yourself down the Northern Quarter’s backstreets for a fuller flavour of how the city’s creatives work and play. Check out its DJ and live music bars including Dry bar – the original indie hangout – and Night and Day café on Oldham Street. Eclectic indoor vintage market Afflecks and independent record shops provide plenty of scope for rummaging.
Although grey skies can be a familiar backdrop to the Manchester experience, the city takes on a different persona along Canal Street – especially when the sun shines. The Gay Village exudes continental chic by day and high-energy glitz by night.
Ambling between the spruced-up warehouses and waterways of Castlefield reveals more layers of the city’s history, with Roman ruins and the free Museum of Science and Industry.
While cheap eats and vibrant theatre productions are part of Oxford Road’s allure, once you’re in this student neighbourhood surrender to the rhythmic embrace of Big Hands Bar – where anything from reggae to northern soul is played before or after gigs at the Manchester Academy.
By Lou Jones