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Great Days Out
Castlefield Guide

(£) Castlefield For Free
 by Jonathan Schofield

Walk passed the bar and on to the little black and white canal bridge. To the left and above the basin is the long wall of brick and glass which makes up Eastgate Offices and the Bass Warehouse ( the latter soon to become a hotel). These were formerly textile warehouses from the 1860's. The cleaning and the conversion, the glass prow and the strong tower makes the whole complex resemble a great liner setting sail across the city. The conversions were variously designed by OMI Architects and Stephenson's. Again they show how modern Manchester architects can not only build in a way which protects the heritage but actually enhances it.

The complicated structure just over the bridge is the Grocer's Warehouse. This has been part reconstructed and was a five storey block of brick and timber designed by James Brindley. Tunnels were driven into the sandstone behind and the coal barges pushed in. Then a water powered crane hoisted the coal up to the street level for dispersal. This was a typically original and practical solution to the problem from Brindley. From time to time the way this worked is demonstrated - ask at the Visitors Centre above.Now walk up the steps at the side of the Grocer's Warehouse and turn left, keeping on the higher road, back to the Roman Fort site.

Back on Liverpool Road at the White Lion turn right to the junction with Deansgate. The impressive building with the arcade was the Free Library designed by Meek and Allison, 1882. Its facade, on Deansgate, carries appropriate sculptures and the city's coat of arms. Inside it now houses two very good restaurants , a hairdressers, the excellent art gallery, the Castlefield Gallery and the Spanish Cultural Delegation, the Cervantes Institute. Walk back down Liverpool Road. St Matthew's Sunday School The cast iron buildings here are the former market halls of the area and now form, in the building next to the old Free Library, an exhibition area, and further down, the Air and Space Gallery of the Museum of Science and Industry. Note the red Lancashire roses and the white cotton flowers. The market halls date from 1876 and 1878 and were designed by Travis and Mangnall. Opposite this is the Oxnoble Pub, so named from its connection with the markets: the Oxnoble is the only pub in Britain named after a potato.

After the Oxnoble you pass the converted former St Matthew's Sunday School from 1827. St Matthew's Church was demolished to make way for the office block between the two old market halls.

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