This is truly one of Manchester’s hidden gems, tucked away in the city’s Northern Quarter. Housed in a Victorian Police station, built in 1879 and in use until 1979, the Police Museum contains one of the finest collections of police paraphernalia in the country. The museum’s array of police vehicles, equipment and uniforms are a particular draw, with most visitors unable to resist the temptation of trying something on.
The building has retained its original Victorian cells, complete with wooden pillows and a birching stool, giving visitors a glimpse of the less celebrated side of Manchester’s history. Parents can rest assured that children will be on their best behaviour, as those that are not may face the discomfort of having a pair of historical handcuffs demonstrated on them.
This place is great for adults too. While the children are busy locking themselves up, adults may also find themselves in cramped surroundings – the Greater Manchester Police Archives are held at the museum and an interesting afternoon can be spent researching your family’s criminal past.
Admission is free, but the museum is only open on Tuesdays, 10.30am - 3.30pm. Last admission is at 3pm. It is recommended to allow 1.5 hours for the visit.
GMP Museum & Archives, 57a Newton Street, Manchester, M1 1ET.
+44 (0)161 856 3287
This is a new free portal for mp3 downloadable audio walks, trails and tours. Currently covering the UK, they will soon be expanding to worldwide coverage. There are some great town, city and nature walks and trails as well as historic properties.
If you're feeling lazy but still want to have a look around the city centre, take the number 2 free bus. It goes in a loop around the city centre so you could hop on and off because they go every 10 minutes or so during the daytime. There are two other free routes (1 and 3) but they are not as good for sightseeing as No 2.
You can catch it from outside Victoria station, Oxford Road station and various stops along the route (for example Hulme street near the BBC, anywhere along Deansgate, by Marks & Spencers at the bottom of market street).
I recommend the work of artist Liam Spencer. He is a local artist whose work showing impressionist views of modern Manchester has been exhibited in the Lowry and Manchester Art Gallery. While you would need to check local listings for his exhibitions - there have been Spencer shows once or twice a year in the last few years - there are a few places you can find his work - not all of them totally obvious.
Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street has a couple of his panoramic paintings in its permanent collection, and the Lowry in Salford also has some of his work. Spencer's work has been reproduced in some limited print formats and is available from Wendy Levy Contemporary Art in Didsbury. While there, it would be worth a meal at the The Lime Tree restaurant in nearby West Didsbury, which also has a panorama painting of Salford Quays but the most unlikely place you would see a Spencer work is the reception to the Accident and Emergency section of North Manchester General Hospital in Crumpsall, which has a huge panorama of the hospital itself, at a worryingly low height given the agitated states I've seen some of the clientele in. Let's hope your visit to Didsbury's bars and restaurants doesn't cause you to visit the final stop on my Liam Spencer tour!
www.liamspencer-art.co.uk Also: The Lime Tree Restaurant - 8 Lapwing Lane
Didsbury; Tel:0161 445 1217. Wendy Levy Fine Art - 17 Warburton Street, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6WA; Telephone: 0161 446 4880; www.wendyjlevy-art.com/; North Manchester General Hospital: Delaunays Road, Manchester, M8 5RB; 0161 795 4567.
This imposing building on the edge of the Salford Quays is made up of huge shards designed to represent a globe fragmented by war. Architect Daniel Libeskind, who also created the Jewish museum in Berlin, knows how to make an impact with his stark aluminium design and dramatic angular lines.
Inside, exhibitions centre around a timeline and feature traditional artifacts alongside interactive material, with giant screens and surround sound films bringing the harsh realities of war to life. There's a good section on the role of women at war, but perhaps, most harrowing is the collection of letters sent home from soldiers on the front line.
Climb or take the lift to the top of the air shard which shoots up from the main building for an impressive view of Manchester's cityscape and beyond.
Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1TZ
Walk with eyes raised to take in the Victorian confidence of the buildings of the world’s first industrial city. Italian Renaissance palaces, Dutch gables, Greek temples, Gothic pinnacles – they’re all here. End up open-mouthed in Alfred Waterhouse’s town hall in Albert Square.
A brilliant, FREE and (for not much longer!!)largely undiscovered night in the heart of the city that caters to all good music tastes. Be it discerning pop, funk, cosmic disco, electric-soul, hip-hop, acid RnB, country and good old rock 'n' roll, the DJs seem to provide it all in one breathless set!! Highly recommended.
New Wakefield Street (off Oxford Road by Thirsty Scholar)
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