Sunday, 21 February 2010

Manchester through different eyes...

On Thursday, Amy and I took a trip into Manchester...not to shop (although we did end up in Primark!), not to eat (although we did have lunch at Subway whilst we were there!) but to see the sights look at Manchester through the eyes of tourists rather than locals. As I've mentioned before, I've lived in the Manchester area all my life, and as such, I kind of take the city for granted, and never really find time to take a step back and look more closely at it. But on Thursday, all that changed. I saw old things in a new light, noticed details I'd never seen before and experienced some places for the first time.

So to begin our tour...we started at St Peter's Square, home to Manchester's Central Library. I didn't get any pictures of the front of it as I'd intended (there were Friends of the Earth collectors there, so I was doing my best to avoid them!), but I did take this picture of the dedication stone(?) on the side wall:

Then we made our way round to our next stops, Albert Square and the Town Hall, just pausing opposite the Midland Hotel on the way:

I absolutely love this building...for me it just conjures up images of the luxury and glamour of a bygone era. I'd love to stay here one day!

When we arrived at Albert Square, I immediately rushed to take pictures of all the statues that are such a feature of the place, but which I've never really paid much attention to before. Amy, meanwhile, kept her distance...I don't know if she was embarrassed of me or if she just didn't want to get in shot! Anyway, first up was this guy:

This is William Gladstone who was Prime Minister of Britain four times during the Victorian era. Presumably Gladstone, the bulldog in Sherlock Holmes, was named after him!

Then there was this one:

This is Oliver Heywood, who was a 19th Century Manchester banker and philanthropist. He sponsored many good causes in Manchester including the Grammar School and Owen's College (which would later become Manchester University where I studied!) Quick confession time...I'm not a local history expert at all, and am quite ashamed that I had to Google Oliver so I could write about him!

Here's a close up of the inscription on the statue's base:

Next we have John Bright:

John Bright was a Liberal politician who was MP for Manchester between 1847 and 1857. He held many views that were considered radical for the time and was recognised as being one of the greatest public speakers of his generation. Thank you Wikipedia for the info!

The most impressive monument for me was most definitely the Albert Memorial:

Apologies for the crappy quality of the pictures...these were done on my phone. I really need a decent camera lol! Anyway, the Albert Memorial was designed in memory of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, who died in 1861, and it was unveiled in 1869. It really is incredibly detailed, and it's just a shame that you can't see more of it on my photos.

Here's a slight close up:

As well as containing a memorial to Prince Albert, Albert Square also houses a fountain which commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897:

I have to admit I was pretty disturbed by this can't see very well but the creatures with the water coming out of their mouths were seriously scary! They looked like some form of gargoyle, and not what I'd expect on a monument designed to celebrate somebody's life. On the plus side, I think this is my best picture of the day. The framing seems to be spot on (for a change!) and I love the juxtaposition of old and new within it.

Then it was off to the Town Hall itself, which Amy and I were both keen to see, not least because it was a filming location for Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, although we could go inside, most areas of the Hall were not open to the public, so we didn't get to see that much. I think we're definitely going to try to go on a guided tour some time soon, so we can experience that bit more. These are a couple of pictures I took of the exterior:

The clock tower and main entrance of the Town Hall, taken from a slight angle. The building is in the Gothic Revival style, popular during the Victorian era, and took nearly 10 years to be completed (from 1868-1877).

A front view of the clock tower...I really struggled to get this photo, I never seemed to step back far enough lol!

After Albert Square, we headed back towards the library, where we cut down the side streets and ended up on Deansgate where we dropped in at our next stop, the John Rylands Library. To say this building was beautiful is a massive understatement. Built at the end of the 19th Century by Enriqueta Rylands as a memorial to her husband, John, it's a gorgeous example of Victorian architecture and is breathtaking inside and out. Unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures, but I'll leave a link to a site where you can find a few instead, and a wholehearted recommendation to check it out if ever you're in the Manchester area!

After stopping for lunch, our final port of call was the Northern Quarter, again mainly because some scenes from Sherlock Holmes were filmed there, and we wanted to see if we could find any of the locations. To be honest, we didn't really have that much success (we should have took a map!) but it was nice to see a part of town that I haven't really spent much time in before, and walking round in circles meant that I got plenty of exercise!

And that's my tour of Manchester done! Hope you enjoyed and maybe even learned something new...I know I did!

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