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Castlesands review, Castlefield

David McCourt finds sand, Germans and residents at Manchester-sur-le-Canal

Published on May 4th 2011.

Castlesands review, Castlefield

Manchester’s city beach is far from being more than just a big pile of sand. 

“It’s not like you can just wash your feet in the canal before you go home like you would in sea is it? Then again, some people probably will.”

 “Manchester has got everything except a beach,” said Ian Brown in the eighties with a quote that has been sickeningly familiar. This inspired organisers to add the missing piece of the puzzle by dumping 160 tones of washed sand and a few deck chairs into Castlefield Basin.

The result is somewhat of an anti-climax to what, according to the Stone Roses front man, should complete Manchester – turning it into some kind of idyllic party haven.

The site features a Beach Barbeque, serving 100% beef burgers, chicken breasts, and vegetable and meat kebabs. There’s a volleyball and kids play area. Blue Eyed Boys Events Management will operate a licensed Beach Hut serving a range of alcoholic beverages and there’s even a 5-a-side football pitch.

A covered performance area overlooks the sand and will host a number of gigs and events.

Once more, pass under the arch and away from the sand and you’ll find an all weather venue marquee with a 1000 standing capacity.

All of this sounds wonderful in theory, but the application is somewhat wanting.

Construction was still underway on the all weather marquee when we went to check it out (Wed 4 May) and little information could be drawn from the conforming-to-stereotype Polish builders.

However, if no additional bar is added to supplement this structure then trying to get served at the tiny Beach Hut with a thousand others will prove impossible.

It doesn’t matter how big a marquee you build to keep out the rain, unless it’s warm and sunny, people simply will not come to a beach.

Michael Gray, a Castlefield resident, questioned the timing of the project.

He said: “It might be nice weather for this time of year but it’s just not hot enough yet. I can imagine it’d be a good atmosphere when it’s full but people aren’t going there this early in the year.”

Gray also highlighted that city beaches in general have a bigger issue when it comes to brushing off sand at the end of the day.

He said: “It’s not like you can just wash your feet in the canal before you go home like you would in sea is it? Then again, some people probably will.”

Kristian, from Gelsenkirchen, Germany, was one of the few at the beach on Wednesday afternoon during a trip to the city. 

He said: “It’s ok, but it needs a big screen to show the football, then it will get busy for sure.” 

Let’s hope the venue picks up in May when events such as a sports day for the North West’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community, the Rock Radio Beach Party and the BEACHED Music Festival draw interest. 

Let’s hope the summer rays cast a heat haze over the idea and bring in the throngs. We'll be back and take another look.

But for now, Castlesands is more Tom Hanks in Cast Away than Fatboy Slim on Brighton beach. 

It’s a 5/10 venue at the moment. Pleasant enough but lacking presence, and maybe it should be round the corner facing Choice Restaurant, off Castle Street, then all the multitudes coming down Chester Road would see it.



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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

EugeneMay 4th 2011.

This is a bit of a harsh review to be honest. I think the beach is great and is a welcome addition to the city centre, though needs to be advertised a lot more.

The weather has not been hot enough?? We live in England, not the Sahara desert...it's hit 21C recently.....in APRIL....the hottest April on record as it happens.

I agree it could do with more presence....and another bar. But the lady who served me at the bar was very nice. Get down to the bar after a trip to Dukes...it's proper Manchester!

PS is the bouncy castle still there? Thats great for the little ones

AnonymousMay 4th 2011.

Ed - can you pls remove my full name from the above? Eugene will be fine

AnonymousMay 5th 2011.

I agree this is a harsh review. As for crowds, what more can you expect on a wednesday afternoon?!

I've been two or three times each of the last two bank holiday weekends and tables were full without a spare deck chair in sight.

i'd guess that it's been rolled out early because of the uncharacteristically nice weather we've had.

It was a great addition to last year's world cup fan park, and i'm sure it will take off again this year.

AnonymousMay 5th 2011.

They do say they'll be back. I wonder if that German man liked the match last night?

D KesslerMay 5th 2011.

4:1! Reminds you of anything?

Mike LeverMay 5th 2011.

I wonder if the rain will wash it all away this weekend

AngelaJuly 31st 2011.

can any one tell me if the beach is open tomorrow can i take kids thank you

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