Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Under the Approach

Should you find yourself on London Road, near the bridge connecting Piccadilly Place with Piccadilly Rail Station, it can be hard to miss London Road Fire Station.

You may however miss something else down here, and it's worth a visit.

Not far from the lower end of Piccadilly approach, there’s a small paved area.  The concrete walls are covered in ivy and there’s a few trees planted in the pavement.

Some of the ivy looks a bit strange, and dark. A closer look reveals 3 sculptures growing out of the ground to well over head height.

Faces stare out from the coal looking material, hands and legs show, and at the top of each panel, two heads poke out, as the rectangular shape of each sculpture becomes more organic as if growing along the wall like the ivy.

It reminds me of Pompeii, people frozen at a point in time, but a Mancunian industrial version.

I could not find a plaque with information about the sculpture and artist, so if anyone has more information....

Update: Thanks to the Manchester Modernist Society for the following information. ""It's called Journey. 1992 by Partnership Art".   Partnership Art is now called Eaton Waygood.

This side of London Road, including Piccadilly Approach and the 'lazy s' of Gateway House above is due for redevelopment, and this paved area will have a new building on it. I hope the sculptures will be relocated.

Location: London Road, below Piccadilly Approach, opposite Piccadilly Place.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The place next to Piccadilly

Piccadilly Place is a group of new buildings next to Piccadilly Station.

There's a footbridge connection to the station to handily cut a few yards off the journey that would otherwise involve crossing London Road at the lights and walking up Piccadilly Approach, and the tram tracks run between the buildings.

One building is full of GMPTE (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive) people, one is the City Inn hotel, there are two more office buildings and a residential building, The Hub.

Walking toward Piccadilly station from Aytoun Street, you may miss a small art installation as it's down some steps to access the buildings on the other side of the tram tracks.

What looks like a group of  small round windows, on a closer look perhaps some misplaced bathroom fittings,  is actually a set of coloured mirrors with lines from a poem.

The poem reads:

i don't care if you're black
chinese, white or tall
don't care if
you're old, gay
a woman or a man
you can sit down next to me
if you're a mancunian

no details that I could find of the poet.

Across the tram tracks, is a 'piazza' with some retail units for lease, and a Starbucks, plus some artworky coloured blocks maybe also used as outdoor seating..

UPDATE: I'm informed that the coloured blocks were installed around May 2010 as part of the Eurocultured festival and the artist is Zedz. It may be temporary (?)

Like all many new developments in the city centre, at least one building has to have 'ONE' in the address to add prestige, so the City Inn is 'One Piccadilly Place'. There is nothing wrong with Piccadilly Place, it seems a competent set of commercial buildings which I'm sure are pleasant to work, stay and live in, and did not, as far as I'm aware, replace any older buildings of note. Perhaps it will grow into being Mancunian itself so I can sit next to it.

Location: Piccadilly Place, Between Aytoun Street and London Road. M1 3BN.

View Larger Map

Saturday, 14 August 2010

One week of rain.

Manchester rain often involves a blanket of cloud and an on-off , mostly on, drizzle through most of the day, the sun bravely attempting but failing to poke though the clouds.

On Thursday we had bouts of heavy rain interspersed with real sunshine. One week of rain fell in an hour, although not enough to lift a hosepipe ban due to low reservoir levels. When Manchester rain is reported in the Manchester news, you know that means it really was a lot of rainfall.  The usual flooding and traffic chaos ensued. Then people carried on with what they were doing. 

Sunshine after rainfall makes for some great photos, but late in the day with failing light and an ageing camera means I will have to return another day to retake many photos, hopefully a little less blurred next time, for my Piccadilly Gardens feature. 

Thursday, 5 August 2010

London Road Fire Station - further update

Another development, or rather, lack of development for this beautiful building. InsidetheM60 reports that Manchester Council have applied for a CPO (Compulsory Purchase Order) to take London Road Fire Station from the owners Britannia Hotels.

Paradise Found (by accident)

Paradise found by accident, looking for a way back to Piccadilly.

Location: Paradise Walk, between Store Street and Ducie Street.

View Larger Map

Monday, 2 August 2010

No P in Vimto

I've always considered Vimto a very Mancunian drink unheard of outside of the North of England, but it's sold  all over the world and very popular. It has a unique smell and taste to me, and it's one of those products that brings back many childhood memories.

Pronounced 'Vimptoe' by generations of Manchester children, despite there being no P, it does however have 'secret ingredients' of '29 natural extracts of fruits, herbs, barley malt & spices' as well as grape, blackcurrant, and raspberry.

Traditionally a cordial, it now has a diet version, and comes in fizzy cans, packs, and along with many well-known traditional brands, an ice-lolly, and sweets.  There is also an upstart flavour this year, Cherry Vimto.

The original cordial is of course the best way to drink Vimto, and winter is no excuse to stick the bottle on a back shelf, as it's rather nice with hot water on a cold day, a sort of non-alcoholic gluhwein.

Vimto was first produced by  John Noel Nichols in 1908, at 49 Granby Row, and like many drinks at that time, was marketed as a tonic, giving Vim and Vigour, no doubt curing many ills but without the need to back it up with evidence of efficacy. Vim and Vigour tonic became Vim-Tonic, then Vimto.

Vimto production moved from Granby Row to Salford, then Levenshulme, then Wythenshawe, and as the century ended, moved out of Greater Manchester to Golborne, near Haydock and is now made in Yorkshire.

In celebration of early Vimto production, an oak sculpture of the Vimto bottle and fruits was carved by Kerry Morrison in 1992 at the Granby Row site, now part of the University Of Manchester,

The wood is starting to rot in some areas, and also suffers from the occasional graffiti.

Sorry if this all sounds like an ad for Vimto, but I really do like it :)

Walk a little further along Granby Row, and you'll reach another sculpture. This is the steel rope of the Technology Arch, by Axel Wolkenhauer from 1989.

Heading along the path to the railway bridge, under the arch is a naked man attempting to get out of a raised hole. It's Archimedes in his eureka moment, made by Thompson Dagnall  in 1990.

Archimedes lost his nose at some point. It was replaced and broken off again. Perhaps a Tycho Brahe statue night have been better here.

Location: Granby Row, near Sackville Street.

View Larger Map