Two centuries of Manchester’s maps go online: The University of Manchester

Down your way: two centuries of Manchester’s maps go online The University of Manchester.

The collection of maps and plans of the city from the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, mostly from the Library’s Special Collections, will be freely available, allowing users to zoom into street level.

Also digitised by the Library are a series of maps from Manchester City Council  – not seen in public for 60 years- showing the extent of bomb damage to the city during WW2.
The work, carried out by the Library’s Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care (CHICC), comprises maps by private surveyors, detailed Ordnance Survey maps, and plans of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Included is the first large-scale map of Manchester, produced by William Green in 1794, and Joseph Adshead’s Victorian map of the Township of Manchester.

The maps will be free to access from the University Library’s Image Collections (LUNA). To view the online maps

Visit for details of map workshops at the Library.

For more information about the bomb damage maps and commercial street maps of Manchester visit Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives .


Drift: River Medlock (Section: Medlock Street – Dawson St. Bridge)

First Street – Medlock Street – Medlock Bridge – River City – Knott Mill – Blue Rainbow Apartments – Owen st. Car Park – Deansgate – Liverpool rd. – Potato Wharf – Giants Basin – Dawson st. Bridge.

How inaccessible the river is.

Medlock Street

Medlock Street

From this 1824 map - note how the Medlock bends away at 45 degrees from what is now Whitworth St. Then it bends sharply back upwards before entering the tunnel under the bridge under Medlock St. Note also Medlock St was then called Gratrix St.

From this 1824 map – note how the Medlock bends away at 45 degrees from what is now Whitworth St. Then it bends sharply back upwards before entering the tunnel under the bridge under Medlock St. Note also Medlock St was then called Gratrix St.

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Looking back towards the bridge under Medlock st


The bend round Blue Rainbow apartments


The bend round Blue Rainbow apartments


Definitely no access to the river.


Beetham Tower from Knott Mill


The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.


Giant’s Basin


Giant’s Basin


Dawson St Bridge


No access.


No access.


The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.


The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.


The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.


The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.


Mermorial in Owen St Car Park


Water flows out of Giant’s Basin under bridge an on as River Medlock


Graffiti under railway arches. Junction of Egerton and Dawson St

Castlefield Waterways

Castlefield Waterways


Graffiti under railway arches. Junction of Egerton and Dawson St


Graffiti and bird shit spattered tyres under railway arches. Junction of Egerton and Dawson St


Tree in wall


Doorway over Medlock on Deansgate


The Medlock water that isn’t directed down the tunnel passes beneath Deansgate and the Deansgate Apartment Buildings before joining the Bridgewater Canal.


Way marker. ….shire?


Beetham Tower


Castlefield basin


The Medlock water that isn’t directed down the tunnel passes beneath Deansgate and the Deansgate Apartment Buildings before joining the Bridgewater Canal.


Gaythorn Tunnel


Gaythorn Tunnel


YHA (left) at Giant’s Basin


Bridges at Giant’s Basin


Medlock flowing away from Giant’s Basin




Medlock flowing away from Giant’s Basin


New Elm Rd bridge




Along Potato Wharf


Along Potato Wharf


Along Potato Wharf


Dawson St Bridge


Dawson St Bridge

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Patience (After Sebald)

Patience – a film by Grant Gee. Based on the book ‘Rings of Saturn’.


W G (Max) Sebald born in Germany 1944. In 1966, Sebald was appointed “lektor” at the University of Manchester, and four years later took a lectureship in German in the school of European studies at the newly founded University of East Anglia (UEA). Living in a small home with a decidedly rural feel at Wymondham, Sebald wrote a series of books which made him a formidable critic of German writing, including studies of Sternheim, Doeblin, the German theatre, and two collections of essays on Austrian writing.

W G Sebald

W G Sebald

‘Patience’ refers to the passage in Austerlitz in which a pack of family postcards are rearranged as in a game of patience until they are finally put in the correct sequence.

See Barbara Hui Litmap Project. Online map with literary links and references. The Rings of Saturn was the first lit map that she plotted.

‘Rings of Saturn’ – a series of walks in concentric circles. The rings of Saturn are caused by moons getting too close to the planet and then shattering.

‘Silk’ as a recurring theme in RoS.

Compares to Virginia Wolf’s ‘The Waves’? See her description of a moth coming to it’s destruction in a flame in Sussex. She was perturbed by WW1.

See Lise Patt co-editor ‘Searching for Sebald’


Christopher Woodward ‘In Ruins

The dead fish amongst the men in Lowestoft; the dead people in the forest.

Herring in Lowestoft

Herring in Lowestoft

Suffolk link with ‘The Zone’ in Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’? (Geoff Dyer on Stalker)

He has become important for contemporary artists – we have to see his as a writer and an artist.

Saturn rules over Melancholy. Depression as productive of art. Feeling inexplicable feeling of loss. Living in the aftermath of some catastrophe.

‘Rings’ also has the sonic meaning. Rings a bell. Rings out.

Patti Smith - tribute concert for W G Sebald in 2011. (Photo by Malcolm Watson)

Patti Smith – tribute concert for W G Sebald in 2011. (Photo by Malcolm Watson)

The book meanders, drifts (derive).

British romantic tradition: walking as recovery; American tradition walking as discovery (road movies).

The quick retreat of Dunwich Cliff. Dunwich Church is no longer there. Andrew Motions Grandmother jumped off these cliffs and committed suicide.

Camus’ ‘rip in reality’. Suddenly something different and more real occurs.

Thomas Browne – the quincunx pattern. Uncanny connections. Browne was the son of a silk merchant.

‘True to his own prescription, Browne records the patterns which occur in the seemingly infinite diversity of forms; in The Garden of Cyrus, for instance , he draws the quincunx, which is composed by using the corners of a regular quadrilateral and the point at which its diagonals intersect. Browne identifies this structure everywhere, in animate and inanimate matter: in certain crystalline forms, in starfish and sea urchins, in the vertebrae of mammals and the backbones of birds and fish, in the skins of various species of snake, in the crosswise prints left by quadrupeds, in the physical shapes of caterpillars, butterflies, silkworms and moths……’

Quincunx pattern

Quincunx pattern

Tacita Dean essay on W G Sebald. ‘Objective chance method’ – you go along and something happens and it makes you take a different direction.

Vertigo blog on Tacita Dean and W G Sebald’s influence on her

“the gods in their playful glee put us down in the wrong place and we spend our entire life trying to , not find the place where we are supposed to be, but to find who we were supposed to be”. Diane Arbus

After his walk Sebald collapsed and ended up in hospital.

Guardian Obituary of W G Sebald


Drift: River Medlock (Section – Leesbrook: Holts – Breeze Hill)

Parking on Holts Lane and walking down to Leesbrook. Some lovely bends in the River and a bridge with ‘Bridge to River Med’.

© Geographer's A-Z Map Co Ltd

© Geographer’s A-Z Map Co Ltd

Much rubbish and fly tipping especially off the kerb of Abbey Hills road.

Collecting broken pottery shards.

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"Bridge to River Med"

“Bridge to River Med”

"Bridge to River Med"

“Bridge to River Med”

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Tunnel under Abbey Hills road.

Tunnel under Abbey Hills road.

Tunnel under Abbey Hills road.

Tunnel under Abbey Hills road.

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Tunnel under Abbey Hills road.

Tunnel under Abbey Hills road.


View of Medlock from Abbey Hills Road (looking south)

View of Medlock from Abbey Hills Road (looking south)

View of Medlock from Abbey Hills Road (looking north)

View of Medlock from Abbey Hills Road (looking north)

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Ford on Holts Lane

Ford on Holts Lane


Convergence of Medlock and Thornley Brook

Convergence of Medlock and Thornley Brook

Ford on Holts Lane

Ford on Holts Lane

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Ignominious exit of Medlock into the Leesbrook Valley

Ignominious exit of Medlock into the Leesbrook Valley

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River Street

A circulation of the unfinished apartments on the corner of River and Garwood st.

River Street with One First Street in background

River Street with One First Street in background

Map (c) Andrew Taylor

Map (c) Andrew Taylor


This new car park in the basement of the building was empty and damp. Water poured down into the central area.
The stairwells are blocked off up to the higher floors.

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How it was going to look according to original vision

How it was going to look according to original vision

Steve Millington talks about the Mancunian Way, the footbridge over the road and the empty shell:

Ian Simpson unveils new Manchester skyscraper

These are the first images of Ian Simpson Architects’ proposals for a new 42-storey block of flats off Mancunian Way in Manchester

The scheme, which is five floors lower than Simpson’s landmark Beetham Tower across the city, will see the demolition of a half-built, Leach Rhodes Walker-designed hotel which currently occupies the site between River Street and Garwood Street.

As well as housing 600 apartments, the project includes a business centre, a shop, 17 car parking spaces, 50 bicycle parking spaces and 200 foldaway bicycle lockers.

1298862_ian_simpson_RiverStreet_ViewA_06 1298863_ian_simpson_House_Street 1298864_ian_simpson_Manc_Way_A 1298870_DAS_Link___Level_06 1298871_DAS_Link___Ground_Floor

Chelmer bought the site in April 2011 and pursued development opportunities. Liaising with Manchester City Council, the company and commissioned Ian Simpson Architects to devise design proposals for a skyscraper building above 100 metres in height. The company held a 4-week consultation period in spring 2012.[3] The planning application was sent in July 2012. Manchester City Council approved the plans in October 2012.[4] Approval was confirmed on 25 October 2012 at the quarterly planning committee meeting.[5]

Demolition of the existing concrete structure is expected to begin in earnest, a process which should take three months.[6] Construction of the skyscraper will take approximately two and a half years and is expected to begin in late 2013.

The development is located on a site on River Street, beside Manchester city centre’s southern boundary next to the Mancunian Way. The site is currently occupied by a half-built concrete frame, originally built for medium-rise apartment block constructed in 2004.[7] The developer went bankrupt and the concrete frame has since remained unoccupied.[4] The building will consist of 600 serviced apartments designed for short-stay ‘serviced living’ and will include a café and gym.[8]

The tower will be similar to modernist buildings like the New Century House and will reflect light to create effect. The architect, Ian Simpson describes the building as “a simple, very elegant and slender building with a glass surface so it will pick up reflections from the light and I think it will be quite dramatic.”[2] The tower shares some characteristic with the simple neomodern style comparable to the Bay Adelaide Centre. (Wikipedia)

I must say I think I prefer the original Leach Rhodes Walker proposal.

Manchester Evening News article: Possible site for new skyscraper

UrbEx links:



Streets as Brushes; Brush of the Camera

….the Constructivists managed to alter the artistic means of production in fundamental ways which the capitalist ‘avant-garde’ has yet to come to terms with. In Russia of the Revolution amazing things were possible. Mayakovsky meant it when he pronounced, The streets are our brushes, the squares our palettes’. Tallin was quite serious when he demanded the movement ‘into real space and real materials’.

Dave Widgery. The Streets are Our Palettes – A Tribute to Vladimir Mayakovsky (July 1972)

But what are the streets and squares nowadays? The brushes and palettes of urban planners and architects. The occasional protest march leaves a broad brush stroke on the city. But is cleaned up as soon as the march is over. This past summer I attended the Gay Pride parade in Manchester, a well established and important fixture on the City calendar. But I couldn’t help but feel a frustration – the corral of the parade, the (friendly) police presence, the sense of it being glamorous and glittery and yet at the same time somewhat held back. And the minute the last float had gone by – the street cleaners were straight in. An odd appendix to the camp bustle and hustle. I wanted the parade to break out into the side streets, to become a riot, to explode into a glitter-ball of chaos. Nevertheless it was a colourful palette and the Pride marches around the world are probably some of the most vibrant urban street palettes that there are.

gay pride1 gay pride2

The camera as a brush

Through the increasing availability of digital cameras, observation and a creative eye, street photography has become popular. The digital camera is an ideal tool for the Integral Drifter. About a year ago I participated in a useful workshop with photographer Mimi Mollica. Revisiting the images I shot on that day reminded me that the eye can sharpen and the familiar can become unusual. The camera becomes a way of re-visioning the street. In this way the process of the drift becomes a method of perceptual transformation.

To use the camera in this way is to look and to look again. Both our perception of the world and the world we perceive is in a constant flux. The habitual mind wants to normalise, to stabilise. This is presumably an evolutionary safety valve – we need some solid ground to gain bearings. But when does solid ground become a drag on process and progress? Creative ideas can soon become dogmas. Maybe it is too soon to say that a Gay Pride March has become a dogma. But in principle it could. I’m not gay but I would propose a Gay Derive. A Gay party in the Edgelands. Colour in the Brownfields.

Note on Mayakovsky:

Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poetic loudspeaker of the Russian Revolution, came to socialist ideas with the enthusiasm of youth. He began to read Engels and illegal pamphlets under his desk-lid when he was 12. When later the same year his school was closed by Military Edict because of the 1905 uprising, he became chief school leaflet distributor. When he made his first contact with the illegal Bolshevik Party, he immediately presented them with his forester father’s shotgun. Aged 15, he was arrested in Moscow for helping to organise the escape of political prisoners from jail and was himself held in Novimsky Prison where he began to write poems. For the following 20 years he served the Revolution as a poet-agitator with the same audacity and passion. And when he shot himself in Moscow in 1930, he died a Bolshevik, brandishing his poems…

Dave Widgery. The Streets are Our Palettes – A Tribute to Vladimir Mayakovsky (July 1972)


Salvation Army Social Services Centre

This set of photos is from inside the Sally Army SSC, on Wilmott Street, which is due to be closed on 12th December 2012 and ultimately demolished. It’s not a particularly lovely building but it was a purpose built place for homeless people, opened on May 12th 1978 by General Arnold Brown and has no doubt served a valuable function in the city. Some of my photos show the removal of the inaugural plaque. The services are now to be relocated in three areas of Manchester. What the city council will do with the site remains to be seen.


Urban Explorers: Quests for Myth, Mystery & Meaning by Bradley Garrett

Urban exploration, sometimes called UE, UrbEx or infiltration, has been described as an interior tourism that allows the curious-minded to discover a world of behind-the-scenes sights’.

(Ninjalicious 2005, p3)



Tim Edensor (MMU) [See British Industrial Ruins website and book]

Caitlin Desilvey (University of Exeter)

David Pinder (Queen Mary, University of London)

Hayden Lorrimer (University of Glasgow)

Alistair Bonnett (Newcastle University)



“The brute materiality of a ruin”

The tactilities and sensation of the materials.

Anti-authoritarian streak. Out on a limb against ideas of how we use space.

The desire to explore.

“There’s always an element of revulsion”. Sense of threat.

East End as a site for social reformers. Bill Bunge 1960s early 1970s explorations in Detroit. Collaboration using Geographic tools.

A fascination with landscape and place.

Going where others have not ventured. A sense of place. From own or others past. Connecting to real feelings, real memories.

Finding gaps and cracks. A radical edge. Creating new community. Doing stuff together. Walking as an important aspect of the dialectic of rambling.

Robert Sullivan – “grabbing the Empire State Building and lifting it up to reveal the underground systems. Thinking downwards and thinking upwards = a vertical orientation.”

Zoom right out then zoom right in.

Childhood: getting older and feeling they have lost something, or never had something.

How to get out of the ‘transparent space’ of surveillance and constantly being watched? Zones off the map. Just ‘going off’ like kids.

They are not ‘overdetermined’ places. Not smoothed over. Not predictable.

Room for imagination. Decay allows the new.

Presenting of the past.

Exploration as a visceral experience.

Dredging up local histories.

The continuing mutation of ruins.

Spectral geographies: haunted spaces, ghosts, traces, the immaterial, strange signs, absent present, the uncanny.



Bunge, Bill, 1969. The First Years of the Detroit Geographical Expedition: A Personal Report. Detroit Society for Human Exploration.

Granick, Harry, 1991. Underneath New York. Fordham University Press.

Macpherson, Hannah, 2009. Touch in the Countryside: Memory and Visualization Through the Feet in The Senses and Society 4(2).

Urban Exploration Resource, 2009.


See also: Gareth Rees Psychogeography blog


Gaythorn, Medlock Street Car Park

“In a rather deep hole, in a curve of the Medlock and surrounded on all four sides by tall factories and high embankments, covered with buildings, stand two groups of about 200 cottages in which live about 4,000 human beings, most of them Irish. The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions…”

Friedrich Engels’s account of 1840s Gaythorn area of Manchester, as depicted in The Condition of the Working Class in England.

After some uncertainty as to how to choose my drifters research area, I have taken the Gaythorn car parks (Medlock Street car park and car park D) as a psychogeographic starting point. These rough and battered patches of land are going to provide the locus from which I will orientate out. I will pursue radial explorations around the area, returning to Gaythorn car parks as a home base.

Using Andrew Taylor’s excellent map of Manchester I have isolated an area I am calling the ‘Medlock Corridor’:

Medlock Corridor1(72)

Medlock Corridor (central section). Map © Andrew Taylor 2011

This initial local drift took place on a frosty day and concerned the main two car parks:

I noticed the Salvation Army / Social Services Centre was looking a bit worse for wear. The Sally Army Crest was vandalised. I went in to ask the receptionist what was happening. She informed me that the place was closing down on the 12th December. She put me in touch with Nigel Yates, the Centre manager, who was positive in my request to take some interior photos before the place is demolished. See further blog for results of this.

Drift pattern:

1) Circulation of Medlock Street Car Park

2) SSC Salvation Army / Lifehouse, Wilmott Strett.  Outside and visit inside.

3) Circulation of Car Park D



Integral Drifting: A Manifesto


This blog is based on research and practice around the themes of:










I intend to explore the idea that Psychogeography has a two-fold nature – one linking to the Romantic literary tradition (Blake, Defoe, DeQuincy, Baulelaire, Rimbaud, Alfred Watkins etc); the other linking to the Political/philosophical interventionist remit (Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Situationist International). But I particularly want to read some of the more contemporary writers on the subject: Ian Sinclair, Merlin Coverley etc. Also I intend to study Patrick Keiller’s ‘Robinson’ films and the works of Chris Petit.

It strikes me that the split in approach is interesting and raises good questions. What is the purpose of psychogeography? To stimulate a subjective poetic re-visioning of the city, to transform individual perceptions of the urban landscape? Or to transform society through radical intervention and disruption of habitual oppressive patterns? Is the derive a game of fantasy or an act of realism?

There is a lot of writing and blogging around this area. I will try to survey the ground as much as I can.

I am introducing the dimension of Integral Theory to Psychogeography out of a personal interest in both areas and to see if the Integral approach benefits or adds to the understanding of the psychogeographic trajectory.


The practice based aspect will be in the actual establishment of a personal derive practice. This will include:

a) Defining the ground. Choosing geographical boundaries. Possibly using Manchester Postal codes as a parameter. But at least considering methods of approaching the geographical field early on in the project. Initial map research.

b) Walking the ground.

c) Recording the field using camera, drawing, video, audio, writing.

d) Collecting from the field – found objects and items

e) Use of found objects, writings, and images as documentation and as material for further modification, display, installation.

f) Proposed outcomes to include this Blog record, exhibitions of research and made objects, printed book using online publishing, a talk/presentation of findings, an organised derive for others.



My methodological approach includes:

1) Reading broadly around the theme.

2) Watching films and seeing exhibitions relating to the theme.

3) Performing random practical experiments (open to the surprising, synchronous, and serendipitous)

4) Performing more structured pre-considered experiments

5) Applying the principles of Integral Theory (specifically the 4 Quadrant Model proposed by American philosopher Ken Wilber)


Drift rather than dérive

Dérive is the French word often translated as ‘drift’. The original french does have resonances specific to the Situationists and as such is a good word. However I don’t intend to limit myself to the interpretation of psychogeography proposed by the Situationists. I want to keep open to new and recent interpretations. Also, the Integral philosophical approach is by nature a theoretical structure which allows for contradictory positions. My assumption is to find both benefits and limitations in polarised positions. This, for me as and eclectic being, maintains a dialectic and indeed a possibility of dialogue which I hope will bear interesting fruit.

‘Drift’ has poetic and manifold connotations: driftwood, ‘get my drift’, high plains drifter, snow drift, drifting off course. I like the light touch it has and the ever-present danger of drifting off topic.


The Integral Model

‘Integral’ basically implies an attention to the idea that in any given moment at any given place there are always 4 dimensions of perception or ontological reality:

1) Inner singular (subjective / me)

2) Inner plural / collective (inter-subjective / we)

3) Outer singular (objective / it)

4) Outer plural / collective (inter-objective / its)


4 Quadrants

So the ‘Integral Drifter’ carries this model as a way of maintaing an awareness that we tend to habitually perceive the world with biases in one or more of these quadrants. And yet the theory states that we can’t really be separate from any of these dimensions. Even when we are on our own we are subject to and conditioned by cultural background and shared values (intersubjective), and we are always part of some sort of social or environmental system (interobjective).

So this model can provide a methodological map for psychogeographic practice. At any given moment, in any given place there is the potential to become aware of

1) The psychogeographic subjective (my mood, emotional state, inner alertness, cognitive sharpness etc).

2) The psychogeographic intersubjective (an awareness of the way locations have shared cultural meanings, place is not separate from language, place forms and is formed by relationships)

3) The psychogeographic objective (observations of things, buildings, objects, people etc)

4) The psychogeographic interobjective (observations of how a given place is formed by, and forms institutional structure; is part of corporate, social, or governmental planning and economic forces; how a place is always part of an environmental network).