Manchester Architecture Trail

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Manchester is one of England's busiest cities, with a thriving commercial heart, a very well-known (partly thanks to the TV series Queer as Folk and Bob and Rose) Gay Village and a vibrant Chinatown. Despite the tragedy of the massive IRA bomb which destroyed a huge chunk of the city in 1996, Manchester has remained vibrant and continues to host some of the biggest-name shops in the UK. It also has a thriving city-living population, with many warehouse conversions and other very popular residences.

When I was much younger (in the 1970s and 80s) I used to find Manchester a very grim-looking place, which I did all I could to avoid. In the 1990s I went to work in Manchester on odd days and also heard about the building of the Bridgwater Hall, visited the site during construction and then the completed building. I also visited the Museum of Science and Industry and was greatly impressed.

'The Bomb' was a set-back; it re-convinced me that Manchester wasn't a very nice place and I didn't set foot in the city between 1996 and 1999. Thanks to some very very determined friends I was persuaded to go to the annual Mardi Gras in August 1999. I'm so glad that I went, as on that day I discovered many places that I had simply never seen before and realised what I was missing. I've been back many times since. For the purpose of this walk, the most significant discovery I made was the huge range of different styles of building and the way in which they have all been blended very successfully. This walk is my way of trying to show other people who, as yet, think as I did about Manchester, that it really is a wonderful place – I do hope that it will be enjoyed by many of you.

One very important note: I have picked out buildings and landmarks which I personally find very impressive and which represent a cross-section of Manchester's architectural styles and dates of building. I make no pretence that I have covered every landmark worthy of note and I also realise that some of the styles are not to everyone's taste. I would urge anyone new to Manchester to use this walk purely as a 'skeleton' and to explore much more widely for themselves. Sadly 'The B of the Bang' sculpture has been removed due to technical issues which made it unsafe. Although Manchester City Council have stated that they intend to reinstate it there is as yet no mention of a date for commencing this work. Readers who have seen this walk before will recall that it was included in this guide but it has now been removed until (or unless) it is reinstated.

Much of this walk can be undertaken by people in wheelchairs; however, due to steps it would be necessary to omit both sections of canalside walking from Waymarks 10 to 16 and 31 back to the station.

England - North England - Manchester - Town or city


Ancient Monument, Cafe, Church, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, Museum, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Tea Shop, Toilets
6/22/2011 - Ian Mapp

Perfect for my 4 hours to kill in Manchester. Loved it, pulled all the areas that I used to know well together. Walk blogged at

3/25/2011 - Dave Darwent

Thanks Rosemary! I am so pleased that people liked it and found that even as a large group they could explore all the tiny places featured in it.

1/23/2011 - Rosemary Miller

Just led a group of walkers - 36 in total - everyone enjoyed it and thought it was fantastic. If you start at 10:30 you will find yourself just in time for lunch at Dukes 92, Castlefield.

9/7/2010 - Adrian Perkins

Many thanks to Dave Darwent for his updates to this walk. September 2010. Adrian (Admin)

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Holidays and activities
Distance away
30.5 Miles
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Pubs, cafes and restaurants
Distance away
19.9 Miles