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Something rich and strange

Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.

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Morag Rose

Manchester: Something rich and strange Spirit – Morag Rose The spirit is dying, the soul is being lost. I hear this constant lament about Manchester, and occasionally when all I see are constellations of cranes juxtaposed with cries of suffering, I feel it too. There’s a growing revulsion at the spectacle, a despair at the narrowing of potentials and the closing down of stories. It’s a smoothing, sanitising and suffocating marketing scam of regeneration that is killing *something* special, something somehow authentic. It’s fear of powerlessness in a city

in Manchester
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Becky Alexis-Martin

Dregs Arsenic – Becky Alexis-Martin Victorian Manchester was blighted by a spectrum of industrial contaminants, and arsenic was one of the more insidious and abundant. Copper arsenite was used to create a verdant pigment known as Scheele’s Green, first made in 1775. This vivid shade epitomised Victorian stylistic sensibilities, colouring everything from wallpaper to clothing and blancmange. However, these cheerful emerald walls concealed a major public health threat. Over time, vapours and inhalable fragments of this toxic tincture found their way inside the

in Manchester
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Qaisra Shahraz

Home Mosque – Qaisra Shahraz Like a synagogue, a mosque is also a place of worship. No matter where it is, a mosque is the heart and hub of a Muslim community. It might be a small place consisting of just two simple rooms, a prayer room or a meeting place, and a bathroom for ablutions. Or it could be a large purpose-built building, able to accommodate hundreds of people. As prayer (salah in Arabic) is one of the five pillars of Islam, a place to pray together is a basic necessity. Manchester Central Mosque, or the Jamia Mosque as it’s popularly known, was the

in Manchester
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Steve Hanson

Manchester: Something rich and strange Exchange – Steve Hanson There are three Manchester exchanges. The first two exist in architectural form, but their uses have altered. These are the former Corn Exchange and former Cotton Exchange, and they emerged as spaces to trade cotton, material and goods. The third exchange is a form of transaction that has become taken for granted globally as a natural fact since the early twentieth century – the Stock Exchange. Marx wrote about the rise of the banknote, and of the ways in which forms of exchange became abstracted as

in Manchester
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Steve Hanson

Destruction Atom – Steve Hanson This late 1960s image of Hulme is so powerful. The Victorian houses in the image are long gone, but so are the Hulme Crescents which replaced them in the early 1970s. The overstated story that Manchester is a co-operative city full of socialist radicals has a flipside: that Manchester’s real revolution was industrial, not political. Friedrich Engels, in the 1840s, in his father’s factories, saw men referring to other men as ‘hands’, and doing so to their faces. When he saw this he noted the conditions that forced socialism, co

in Manchester
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Sarah Butler

Manchester: Something rich and strange Corridor 4 – Sarah Butler There are no lines telling you where it starts and where it ends. So let’s draw them in. Two trails of coloured chalk across the tarmac. Here: from park to shops. Here: from library to hotel. Let’s make them both the beginning. This is, after all, a place where things start: life; adulthood; careers; love affairs; ideas; my own entrance into the world among them – on a snowy Thursday morning, April 1978. Let’s make them both the end. Things come and go, after all: dingy clubs and office blocks

in Manchester
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Manchester: seeing like a city
Paul Dobraszczyk and Sarah Butler

Introduction Manchester: seeing like a city Sarah Butler and Paul Dobraszczyk It is your foot placed on the cold concrete ground, But how many others have begun that pattern? There must be a beginning to our past. But how far back do you have to go to find the first single memory? You can visualise the fraction of bare lane before your eyes, who knows what happened here a million years before, But then a single building of a life is there. This is the start of a first memory of our city a million years ago. But now as the city grows stronger there are more

in Manchester
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Natalie Bradbury

Work Newspaper – Natalie Bradbury In 2011, in a bid to redress an imbalance in regional reporting, the BBC moved thousands of its staff from London to Salford Quays. A purpose-built complex, three miles from Manchester city centre, created a new area known as MediaCity. Sports and children’s programming moved wholesale, and the famous Blue Peter Garden was recreated on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal. Hundreds of acres of former dockland were rebuilt with not just broadcast facilities and studios, but also apartments, restaurants and bars to serve the new

in Manchester
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Jonathan Silver

Manchester: Something rich and strange Synagogue – Jonathan Silver Walking down a street in Broughton in the winter sunshine of early 2019, a construction site is visible next to a school. Much of the structure remains hidden by the scaffold. However, at the sides, part of the new building protrudes and hints at an architectural style that is quite different to the surrounding suburban homes. And a render of the completed building, on a panel fronting the site, lets passers-by see its final form. The new synagogue, completed in late 2019, holds a remarkable

in Manchester