'And on the sixth day, God created Manchester'. Everyone knows that Manchester is a Northern Powerhouse. It boasts great musical history, is arguably one of the football capitals of the world, and everyone knows how to make a really decent brew. Here are some lesser-known facts....
1) The Northern Quarter is Sometimes…. New York City
When it isn’t revelling in its status as Manchester’s ‘hipster’ capital, (think kooky bars, retro clothes, record shops, endless street art) the Northern Quarter boasts something else undeniably cool: it often acts as a New York City double.
Red-brick, industrial buildings synonymous with the Northern Quarter serve well as a façade of The Big Apple before its vast modernisation. Unusual zigzag fire escapes conjure images of the infamous Friends apartments – remember that scene from ‘The One Where They’re Up All Night’, when Ross and Joey have to shimmy down the fire escape?
The most famous example of silver screen stars flocking to humble Manchester is Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011; this was actually the first time that Marvel Productions had ever filmed outside of America. The Northern Quarter’s pre-war architecture lends itself nicely to this era; parts of Dale Street became the location of a frenzied car chase, with 1940’s cars brought in for the shoot.
A little caveat: it isn’t just New York that the Northern Quarter is dressed up as. Hugely popular English show Peaky Blinders, set in war-ravaged Birmingham, filmed thrilling fight scenes at Manchester Town Hall and Victoria Baths.
If you’d like an ‘alternative’ tour of the Northern Quarter, get in touch with Hayley from Skyliner, whose knowledge of Manchester is unparalleled. Her bespoke walking tours are the only northern tours to be recognised in The Telegraph Travel’s Incredible Street Art Tours.
2) Pies Are Taken VERY Seriously Here
If there’s one thing that Manchester excels at, it’s pies. The pastry-based staple is so highly regarded in this part of the country that Wigan actually hosts something of a phenomenon: the regionally-famous World Pie Eating Championships.
Harry’s Bar Wigan is the venue of the annual competition, which is going strong in its twenty-third year. Contestants battle it out to eat a meat and potato pie in the quickest time – the reigning champion, Martin Appleton-Clare, has won the coveted title thrice now, demolishing his pie in a staggering 45.5 seconds.
Interested? Head to Wigan in December; exact date TBC.
3) 2018 Saw a Powerful New Street Art Mural in the Name of Women’s Suffrage
Women’s suffrage is closely tied to Manchester; it was the home of Emily Davison, a forthright member of Manchester activist Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union from 1906 onwards.
In 2018, the centenary of the vote initially being granted to some women, a stunning new street art mural was unveiled: male-female duo SNIK simply named it, ‘Serenity’. It shows a lady dressed in red, suspended in time. The piece is part of a wider project called ‘Cities of Hope’, which launched in 2016; the project has raised £20M for international causes, aiding asylum seekers, refugees and the homeless.
Cities of Hope said: “This tribute is in gratitude to all women that stand against injustice. The artwork recognises their strength, resolve and dignity; a testimony to what they have endured, and still endure, to make the world a better place for all of us.”
Find ‘Serenity’ behind the brand new Cow Hollow Hotel in the Northern Quarter.
4) Manchester Has Been the Home of Many Nobel Prize Laureates
That’s right; ‘The Rainy City’ has hosted a brainy (and scientific) bunch over the years – twenty-five Nobel Prize winners in fact! Here are two of the breakthrough discoveries we can thank Mancunians for.
Vitamin C synthesis: Norman Haworth, alumni of the University of Manchester, is the man that synthesized Vitamin C, making everybody’s common colds easier to suffer; Norman’s research helped the production of the vitamin become more commercial.
The Splitting of the Atom: Ernst Rutherford was the mastermind who first discovered how to split the atom, a discovery that was to change science forever. Albert Einstein later called Rutherford ‘a second Newton.’
5 ) You Can Visit the UK’s First Permanent Indoor Inflatable Theme Park
Inflata Nation, formerly Jump Nation, situated in Trafford Park, benefitted from a sizeable cash investment of £500,000 in 2017, so prepare for (literally) heightened bouncing fun; there are now two almost vertical-drop inflatable slides, the UK’s biggest ball pool and even a designated area for the under-6s.
If you’re fed up with spin classes and runs, join a bouncy fitness class at Inflata Nation for just £6 – what could be a more fun workout?
6) Manchester’s Gotham Hotel Has Been Voted the ‘Coolest Non-London Venue’ in 2018
Since its revamp in 2015, Hotel Gotham, a Bespoke Hotel located on King Street, has scooped several awards, perhaps most notably the title ‘Coolest Non-London Venue‘ at the COOL Venue Awards, certified as the biggest night in the hotel industry.
The listed former Midland Bank building still retains playful remnants of its past, with bowler hats, briefcases and typewriters adding to the Art-Deco aesthetic. A stay at this luxurious hotel, known as ‘The King’ due to its atypical architectural style for Manchester, promises to be opulent and will leave you wondering if you’re living in the wrong era.
7) THAT Pride and Prejudice Scene was Shot at Lyme Park, Cheshire
Yes, that’s right: the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice saw Colin Firth take a dip in the lake at the stately Pemberley House in Lyme Park Cheshire. Pemberley, as mentioned in Jane Austen’s most well-known masterpiece, was the residence of Firth’s Mr. Darcy. Today, even more than two decades on, the Park attracts visitors wanting to immerse themselves in a literary world.
Set on the edge of the Peak District, the park is a 40 minute drive from the centre of Manchester, and surrounded by 1,400 acres of woodland – the perfect tonic away from the urban city centre.
8) There is a New Food Market – Mackie Mayor
Reimagined by the same people at the helm of Altrincham Market, Mackie Mayor is a delightful assault on the senses. Artisan stalls selling international food all convene under one roof, from Honest Crust Sourdough Pizza , La Cucina Mediterranean-style fare to Nationale 7, French rotisserie meat and seasonal produce.
Taking care not to leave anybody out, Manchester’s latest foodie experience offers incredible options for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone with specific dietary requirements; the only possible problem here is too much choice!
Mackie Mayor Market is situated at 1 Eagle Street.
9) It has the Oldest Library in the English-Speaking World
With grounds and interiors so opulent they rival those of the fabled Hogwart’s, Manchester’s Chetham’s Library is a haven for any book lover or history buff. Henry Chetham, a wealthy textile merchant, banker and landowner, was the generous benefactor that helped the library to open, in 1623. But the building itself is actually over two centuries older, harking back to 1421!
Also, it isn’t just your average Joe that has frequented the library over the years – in 1845, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels sat among the pillars of tomes while discussing their world-famous The Communist Manifesto.
10) It Has the Tallest Building in the UK Outside of London
If you’ve got a head for heights, experiencing the Hilton’s Cloud 23 champagne and cocktail bar at the top of the Beetham Tower is unmissable. The iconic Manchester landmark has been recognized for its edgy architecture, winning the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Best Tall Building Award in 2007.