I’d had meal and a couple of beers and decided to take in the sights of Manchester. In summer the streets have a European feel to them with people were sitting out on street furniture enjoying a meal or a post-work drink. But subsequently, I’ve learned that Manchester looks pretty good under most conditions with, of course the exception of when it’s pouring with rain.
In December the streets have been illuminated with Christmas lights and although this is not the best time to admire some of the fine buildings it’s hard not to let the festive spirit click in. From the modern sleek lines on the G-Mex centre I’m impressed with the oil lights burning outside the fabulously ornate Midland Hotel. It looks onto St Peter’s Square which hosts the tram line and is overshadowed or indeed complimented by the resplendent City Hall. The highly polished tiled exterior (street level to rooftop) is peppered with small balconies fashioned with elaborate carved stone or bowed ironwork. What a fantastic building and how prestigious it would have been in its heyday.
Throughout the City there are a range of fine sculptures sited in small squares and dominating the thoroughfare. It’s well worth spending a bit of time checking them out and admiring the fine carvings and the way they have weathered over the years since they were first erected in the City. Christmas lights are fairly subtle throughout the town. The understated manicured Christmas tree is a mass of lights and is sited in Picadilly Gardens and has been erected alongside the outdoor ice rink which has taken over the paved “gardens” in the centre of town. A traditional 6-metre high Wolhnachtspyrmide (a giant German Christmas pyramid with a built in nativity scene) is perched on the German Beer tent in Albert Square and I’ve never seen the like of it before.
On my way to Picadilly I pass through China Town. It;’s always one of Manchester most colourful districts and itplays host to a variety of oriental-style restaurants including Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese plus a splattering of quaint specialist supermarkets and bakeries. Chinatown first came to Manchester in the 1970s when several Chinese restaurants opened in the old cotton warehouses and it rapidly became the focus for the Chinese community in the area. The impressive “Imperial Arch”, spanning Faulkner Street was designed and built by a team of Chinese engineers and was presented to the city by the people of China in 1987.
I then pass by the Britannia Hotel on Portland Street that is well decked out with a mass of Christmas lights. Christmas has truly arrived in Manchester! Approaching Picadilly Station I walk by the old emergency services building which housed fire, police, magistrates and coroner’s courts. It’s a massive site and the building is a celebratory edifice to Victoriana. Unfortunately it currently seems to be deserted and parts are boarded up. I just hope that it’s not allowed to disintegrate!