I am a Manchester girl, born and bred and I thought I knew my city pretty well. Not as well as I thought after a very insightful and entertaining tour with Manchester historian and journalist Jonathan Schofield?
Jonathan runs many tours and is editor of Manchester confidential, online magazine and blog about everything that is great about this city.
The tour started at The Portico Library, a building I have walked past many times and been told about many times over the years, but it was yesterday, with Jonathan, that I finally got to enter this magnificent historic building where many literary greats and historical figures of Manchester’s past were members. Names such as Elizabeth Gaskell, Sir Robert Peel and John Dalton have sat in these rooms, researching, writing and debating. It is small and intimate in size but grand on atmosphere and ambience with its dark book lined walls, gilt framed portraits and Georgian panelled windows gazing down below onto Moseley Street, once the grandest of Manchester roads.
After Jonathan regaled us with plenty of tales and anecdotes about the libraries previous history and members, we moved across the road to King Street,previously home to The Midland Bank, now Jamie Olivers restaurant. The bank was designed by architectural giant, Edward Lutyens and the bank vault, which was our point of discussion, was littered with simple details showing Lutyens attention to detail. Again many insightful stories were told about when the vault was cleared for the renovations of the restaurant to commence and what was found in the lockers. I won’t spoil Jonathan’s stories by telling all, you’ll have to go on the tour to find out? Safe to say the story is now Manchester legend.
After King Street we crossed over to Manchester Central Library, a building I have been to many times but of course, as this was a tour of Manchester architectural treasures, Jonathan didn’t show us the obvious rooms open to the public. Instead he took us to the top floor and the librarians office with far reaching views of Oxford Road beyond and told us the history of the Peterloo massacre and the belief that bodies from that siege remain under the stone pavings in front of the library!
Our final destination was The Hidden Gem church behind John Dalton Street. A lovely little church, as its name perfectly describes.
Jonathan runs many tours all very different in their themes but all, I’m sure, equally fascinating. I will definitely be going on more and if you’re thinking of a visit to Manchester in the future, I would highly recommend you try and fit one into your visit.