Jonathan Schofield

In 1945 Manchester made a plan to more or less demolish the whole city centre and start again.

Only a few buildings would remain: the Cathedral, Chetham’s, Central Library and the Midland Hotel. The rest, including the Town Hall, would have to go. They were too old-fashioned, too tarnished by an industrial and imperial past for the intellectuals of the post-war world.

Time for a fresh start, time to wipe the slate clean. In the end such drastic action was unaffordable and increasingly undesirable. The self-hatred of the planners had faded too.

Some elements of the plan survived though, one being to widen Manchester city centre’s streets. Thus buildings in the fifties and sixties were set back from the street, the idea being that when the whole street was redeveloped it would have a new building line and a grander, wider profile.

Of course whole streets weren’t redeveloped, so as you can see from the picture this time, the sixties building hosting Brewdog is set back from the Edwardian building hosting Albert’s Schloss. How absurd. How ridiculous. Another example of when planners and politicians seek an absolutist solution they deliver farce.

It’s a fun game spotting these post-war attempts at re-invention.

Well, fun for me.

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