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Great Days Out
Castlefield Guide

(£) Castlefield For Free
 by Jonathan Schofield

Painted Panels Before the Roman gate if you look left over the fence you can see the 1998 painted panels by Matt Aindow celebrating some north-west showbiz celebrities. This was sponsored by Granada TV, a regional company, who could not be seen to include just local figures. You might recognise, amongst the maverick choice, Les Dawson, LS Lowry, Ian Curtiss, Stan Laurel, Heather Small, Gracie Fields, John Lennon, Pat Phoenix, Chris Evans(good God!), Paul McCartney and Noel and Liam Gallagher.

Once passed the defensive ditches and through the gateway turn right and you will come to the foundations of the Roman granary, the reconstructed west wall of the fort and some more excavated defensive ditches. The area in front of this has been landscaped and you can gaze across to Salford.

Dominating the view a few yards ahead is Manchester's Outdoor Events Arena, with its canvas cover dangling over the canal arms. The arena has been the site for festivals and firework displays but the highlight was perhaps in 1994, when the place was packed as 20,000 or so Mancunians gathered for the decision on our Olympic bid. Outdoor Events Arena When Jose Samaranch announced the winner as Sydney there was a moment's pause before the crowd launched into a hearty version of Monty Python's "Always look on the bright side of life". Meanwhile several Beijing residents were committing suicide on hearing of their rejection.

Walk down the arena steps, turn right and walk up the steps to the Castlefield Visitors Centre ( very unpredictable in its opening times). This recent building provides good information on the area including a small historical exhibition. There are public toilets inside and a range of merchandise, but the best thing is the view over the canal basin and the events arena.

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