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MCR View Of The Week: Getting High Over The River

Jonathan Schofield pursues his car park fetish

Published on January 21st 2015.


MCR View Of The Week: Getting High Over The River
 

SO you're a junkie for this sort of stuff?

I love getting high. I have a fetish for the sudden rush of adrenaline, that lightness of being as you soar away from reality. I like it especially when stood on a manure pit.

Save that for a minute. Explain the getting high.

Top level, top notchTop level, top notchI have a thing for multi-storey car parks. When I see a new one I have to rush to the top. You get this huge expanse of tarmac and an unparalleled viewing platform, normally with a 360 degree view. We wrote about this a couple of years ago, when we imagined coffee shops on those empty top levels of car parks - click here. This Manchester View was supposed to be from the one at First Street but that's not open yet so I foraged around and found the new multi-storey on Irwell Street in Salford and the rewards for my fetishism were immediate: snow on the moors, views across the river, Manchester's finest tall buildings, church towers and spires in Salford, and if this is your fetish, vertical views of railway viaducts.  

New Bailey car park

 

New Bailey car park

And the manure pit?

Well this car park sits on part of the site of New Bailey prison. This was the rear end of the site and the 1848 map shows it was the location of the manure pit, which probably wasn't a weird form of penal punishment, but fed the vegetable gardens of the prison which were also located in this area.

Manure pit and part of New Bailey Prison from the 1848 Ordnance Survey map

 

Manure pit (centre) and part of New Bailey Prison from the 1848 Ordnance Survey map

What else was there at the time?

On the 1848 map, and just outside the prison walls over the road, is an Indigo Works. Ah, beautiful indigo, the much prized deep, rich blue dye, perfect for Manchester's textile industry. Indigo comes from a plant sourced from India. After that long journey here in Salford we have in 1848 a works filled with vats soaking the plant to release the blue.  

From nature comes blue

 

From nature comes blue

Tell me more about the prison.

It was opened in 1790 and after an extension in 1815 it had a capacity of around 700, 583 male and 214 female. There were treadmills in which it was said the daily 'ascent' was 19,400ft, or two-thirds of Everest. The New Bailey was the place where six public hangings took place between 1866-68 until the practice was banned and placed behind closed doors at the newly completed Strangeways Prison. The construction of the latter closed New Bailey and it was eventually demolished. The most notorious of those hanged were the three men known in the Irish community as the 'Manchester Martyrs', William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin, and Michael O' Brien. These were found guilty of the murder of policeman Sergeant Brett, shot dead in a police van during a raid to free two Fenians. It's generally acknowledged today that the three men executed were not guilty of the murder. 

New Bailey Prison

New Bailey Prison

So which way is the best view from this car park?

Probably into the city. You get a superb view of the excellent Civil Justice Centre and its filing cabinet shape, from architects Denton, Corker, Marshall. Closing off the view up Bridge Street, is the sharp modernist form of City Tower (click here) with its radio mast. While closer to the viewer and in front of the Civil Justice Centre is the lower form of the People's History Museum and the dark line of the River Irwell. Albert Bridge can be seen as well, just like Albert Dock in Liverpool named after Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. It was built at the same time as Albert Dock, in the mid-1840s, by the same prolific engineer, Jesse Hartley.

Dsc_0786The view

View east

View east

A busy view.

Yes indeed. And a nice comparison with this image from the Berry map of 1750. The boat house in this view is where the Mark Addy pub is now - the canopy on the river a little to the left of the bridge in 2015. Meadows lie where Spinningfields sits. At the backs of the mansions here are summer houses just about where the Lawn Club bar occupies space in the modern city. The river is unpolluted, the only constant in the view are the moors in the distance. The 2015 view may have been radically different if history had gone a different direction.

Berry, 1750

Berry, 1750

Go on...

The 1945 Manchester Plan envisaged a processional boulevard from Manchester Town Hall to the river. The plan was all about re-inventing the city physically, commercially and socially and involved clearing most of the older buildings including the Town Hall itself. It was a massive exercise in dreaming dreams, in thinking outloud. 

View through the Leftbank apartment development in Spinningfields

View through the Leftbank apartment development in Spinningfields

How it may have looked. Manchester Town Hall has been replaced by a glorified Swinton/Stretford/Sale Town Hall look-alikeHow it may have looked. Manchester Town Hall has been replaced by a glorified Swinton/Stretford/Sale Town Hall look-alike - from admittedly a little further into the city from the river view above

What about other view directions?

The view north towards the hideous 80s nothing office block shows a glimpse of the Riverside development to the left. This lies on the site of Joule's brewery, owned by the dad of James Prescott Joule, famous for his First Law of Thermodynamics and for donating his name to the unit of energy, the 'joule'. The processes of brewing beer got the young Joule interested in physics. To the west there's a view of the spires and towers of Salford Cathedral (1848) and of St Phillips (1824). 

Dsc_0806

Rubbish 80s office block masking the site of Joule's brewery

Spires and towers

Spires and towers

Finally, is there a word for the excessive love of multi-storey car parks? 

Yes it's: Rotastruesphilia. And yes I've just made that up, ramming the Latin words for 'chariot' 'stack' and 'love' together. But I genuinely am going to start the Manchester Rotastruesphilia Club. Anybody else want to get high? Maybe NCP will sponsor us.

Are railways your thing?Are railways your thing?

No really are railways your thing?No really are railways your thing?

 

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AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

This is quite nice,but it has fallen in to the old Manchester trap of not having any civic space around it. The Royal Exchange is gorgeous but down a side street and the Palace Hotel another gorgeous building next to a railway line. For Godsake will someone give us a damn park. What is happening to the Cottonfields park in Ancoats? it is just a field of mud.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

That New Baily carpark is to me all that is bad about this place of late.....

Michael IngallJanuary 27th 2015.

JS that rather good watercolour is surely what is not Brazenove street, you can see Rylands on the left, how great is that picture, .. that's has a really civic grandeur to it, shame. These old street patterns should be considered very carefully when replanting, our st johns masterplan is based very much on old street patterns,

Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 27th 2015.

You're right about it being Brazennose Street. The '45 Plan was elegant but brutal all about tearing everything down aside from a few older buildings, as though 1945 would be Year Zero in a social revolution. There's more on the plan here www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/The-Good-The-Standard-and-the-Ugly-The-Square-with-No-Name…

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