Just back from Manchester

I’m just back from Manchester, where I enjoyed a weekend hanging out in the real world with fellow travel bloggers at Travel Blogger’s Unite. I’ll be telling you what I got up to very soon but in the meantime I wanted to share some pictures from a previous visit, when I explored Manchester’s creative side as a guest of Creative Tourist, the online guide to all things artistic and creative in the city. These were my impressions of Manchester from that visit;

Salford Quays, Manchester

Salford Quays, Manchester

Industrial Heritage

Manchester doesn’t do picturesque, it does a gritty industrial landscape that is full of canals, warehouses and cranes. Manchester made it’s money from mills and making things and now things have come full circle as those canals and warehouses that fell in to decline have been renovated and reinvented as smart apartments and areas for leisure. You’ll see this clearly if you take the metro line out to Salford Quays where we enjoyed visits to the Lowry Arts Centre and the Imperial War Museum that sit on opposite sides of the Manchester Ship Canal, linked by a metal bridge that rises from time to time to let the ships through.

The Lowry in Manchester

The Lowry in Manchester

LS Lowry at The Lowry Centre

It’s not every artist that has an arts centre named after him, and although you may not know much about LS Lowry, you’ll almost certainly have seen his pictures of matchstick figures hurrying with their collars turned up against the wind, on their way to the factory with smoke billowing from chimneys or hurrying to the football match. Lowry painted what he saw on the streets of Manchester and his work is on show at The Lowry Centre in Salford Quays.

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester

Manchester’s Creative side

Manchester may be better known for football, nightlife and shopping, but we took the opportunity to explore some of the many free museums that are on offer in the city. At the Imperial War Museum we saw the thought provoking black and white war photography by Don McCullin at the Shaped by War exhibition and listened to the voices of children at war  in the audio-visual presentation in the main exhibition hall.

At the Museum of Science and Industry or MOSI, we were able to press our noses up to the Mona Lisa  without the usual crowds in the Louvre, including the unframed back view of the masterpiece with nail holes and scribbles from past curators. Of course, she wasn’t the real thing, but an extremely detailed photographic copy taken with a special camera that reacreated every tiny detail. Both of these exhibitions have moved on, but you’ll be sure to find other exhibitions to enjoy and plenty of information on the latest artistic happenings on the Creative Tourist Website.

The Northern Quarter in Manchester

The Northern Quarter in Manchester

Street art and Vintage in the Northern Quarter

The Travel Bloggers Unite Conference was being held in the Northern Quarter which is a real antedote to the sleek, modern designer labels that thrive in the Arndale Centre. Here you’ll find a street vibe of clubs, cafes, and vintage fashion peppered with street art like these tiled cars that we spotted down a side alley. It’s a great place for wandering around, checking out the most interesting and original that Manchester’s artistic community can come up with.

More Manchester memories

Up Close with the Mona Lisa at MOSI in Manchester
Getting to know LS Lowry at the Lowry in Manchester
Street Art and Vintage at the Northen Quarter in Manchester


heatheronhertravels' Manchester photoset heatheronhertravels’ Manchester photoset

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  • Reply
    Sofia - As We Travel
    March 31, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Personally I love street art. That one looks really cool 🙂

  • Reply
    April 4, 2011 at 8:36 am

    You’ve seen much more of Manchester than I have. Very cool, that footbridge.
    Sophie´s last blog post ..Going back to … Bregenz

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    April 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    @ Sophie I didn’t see anything of Manchester on the Tranel Bloggers Unite trip which is why I had to remind myself of some of the cool things to see there

  • Reply
    Cathy McGath
    April 6, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I’m afraid that as an American, I know next to nothing about the different regions and cities in England. I’d love to make it there some day!
    I do know–and your article mentioned–that Manchester was known as an industrial city…not exactly a tourist attraction. Has it been gentrified to the extent that little of its past remains? Are those that come from families who work(ed) in the factories being pushed out of Manchester due to rising prices and the influx of sleek boutiques (if prices are rising along with gentrification)?
    You also said that the Northern Quarter is “a real antidote” to the designer labels of Arndale Centre, because of a “street vibe”. Is it that the Northern Quarter is hipster-y or alternative, but still “modern” and more expensive?
    Thanks for your post–I’m just trying to understand what Manchester is all about!

  • Reply
    Frank Zweegers
    April 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

    What museum did you prefer, the Lowry or the MOSI?

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    April 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    @ Frank There’s more to see at MOSI and I loved seeing that Mona Lisa closeup, although that exhibition has now moved on, but the Lowry is always there and definitely worth a look to understand Manchester’s industrial past

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    April 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    @ Cathy I’m not a local Manchunian so my impressions are based on a few days in the city. I’m not sure that gentrified is the right word but certainly there are many old Warehouses and industrial buildings that fell into disrepair as the industry moved away and have now been converted into apartments or put to other uses, although there are still many that have not been renovated.

    As for the Northern Quarter, you’ll find a lot of vintage clothing shops there, and so it is a lower cost, arty scene, whereas Manchester also has a side that likes to show off it’s wealth, wearing expensive designer labels and fashions, so that was the contrast I was trying to make.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Lowry was not my favourite modernist, but there was something very telling about his scurrying matchstick figures and his industrial landscapes. So it seems appropriate that the The Lowry Arts Centre was built with a Manchester Industrial feel.

    Cold steel and glass are harsh materials, making the colourful interior a welcome change. Is that something about local people being tough on the outside but warm and loving on the inside?
    Hels´s last blog post ..Jewish Shanghai 1850-1950- safe haven

  • Reply
    Heather on her travels
    April 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    @ Hels I’m sure that your point about cold steel on the outside and warm on the inside is very apt. I was certainly glad to see some colour on the cold day I was at the Lowry

  • Reply
    Turkey's For Life
    April 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Really enjoying reading everyone’s blog posts on Manchester – our playground when we’re back in the UK. It’s an amazing city – but then we’re biased. 🙂
    We’ve worked for Urban Splash – one of the companies regenerating Manchester by converting the derelict warehouses and factories etc. To answer Cathy McGath’s question, Urban Splash and other companies are working with the government and local youngsters and families to ensure affordable accommodation so they can get a start on the property ladder.

  • Reply
    North India
    May 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing these useful information! Hope that you will continue doing nice article like this . northindiatrip.com

  • Reply
    Casing Pipe
    November 19, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Manchester is a gritty industrial landscape that is full of canals, warehouses and cranes. Manchester made it’s money from mills and making things

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