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The Glories of Manchester Architecture (on ZOOM)

Next Tour is on Zoom: Saturday 17 April 2021, 11am.
Meet: On your computer.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

* One day we will be able to walk the streets of Manchester and examine its glorious architecture close up. Until then…

Oh, and by the way, let’s not forget that Zoom allows us to cover so much more ground than we can do on a walking tour, given that we don’t have to spend most of the time walking from A to B.


Merchants’ palaces, Gothic towers, Baroque fantasies and Classical temples: Manchester city centre is lined with architectural splendour, from the soaring spires of Manchester Town Hall to the mathematical purity of the Friends’ Meeting House; from the exquisite Renaissance effects of the Athenaeum to the Art Deco embellishments of Sunlight House.

No wonder the Builder magazine once described Manchester as “a more interesting city to walk over than London. One can scarcely walk about Manchester without coming across frequent examples of the grand in architecture. There is nothing to equal it since the building of Venice.

On “Manchester Architecture Revealed” we take you through the city’s streets looking at its most impressive buildings, era by era, style by style, architect by architect, showing off Manchester’s first designer buildings from the early 19th century right through the ages to today’s stunning skyscrapers.

Want to read more?
Here’s the piece New Manchester Walks’ Ed Glinert wrote for the Manchester International Festival 2011 brochure.

The best view of Manchester’s architecture is from Salford. Stand on isolated, lonely Oldfield Road, off Salford Crescent, by the dried up route of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, and look west, and there it is: Manchester, caught in a perspective of triumphant towers and soaring skyscrapers. Marvel at the sticking-out “drawers” of the Civil Justice Centre aside its formidable aluminium composite bulk and suspended glass wall, the largest in Europe. Look in awe at the Art Deco fortress of Sunlight House, and take in an intoxicating vision of the Beetham, the subtlety of its shape now suitably sensed when removed by the long gap.

Midland Hotel1Walk from here into Manchester and the finer detailing of these facades becomes sharper. Central Manchester is dominated by 19th century architects’ desperation to re-create the traditional styles of Europe – Greek, Gothic, Italianate, Baroque – on uncharted territory. Manchester has few original buildings, just brilliant copies. The Memorial Hall on the corner of Albert Square and Southmill Street by Thomas Worthington is pure 15thcentury Venice. What’s left of the Free Trade Hall on nearby Peter Street is Edward Walters’ take on the Gran Guardia Vecchia in Verona. You want more Italy on the streets of Manchester? Head for the Athenaeum on Princess Street, now part of the art gallery, and behold a Florentine Palace that’s pure Palazzo Pandolfini by Raphael, while inside ironically is a large collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings himself.

On the way, you might head past Friends Meeting House on Mount Street. It’s Greek. Ancient Greek. The façade is based on the Temple on the Ilissus because Richard Lane, designing in the 1820s, believed that as Manchester had no cultural legacy the city should pay homage to the territory where modern ideas of aesthetics, art and architecture were shaped. Not that everybody was impressed with the slew of Classical revival buildings he created. The Builder magazine for instance derided his work (Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall, St Thomas’s Pendleton) as looking like a factories with the front of temples stuck on.

At least in modern times Manchester has begun to originate. The Bruntwood-owned Bank Chambers/Bank House on Faulkner Street, between Piccadilly Gardens and Chinatown, is a magnificent segue of big tower and little tower on a concrete podium. It was designed by Fitzroy, Robinson in 1971 and appropriately is home to Fairhurst’s, the most prolific architects in Manchester history. Pity it will need another hundred years before its brutalist beauty and granite-and-glass glamour are fully appreciated.

Start: 17/04/2021 11:00 am
End: 17/04/2021 11:15 pm
Venue: Your computer!
United Kingdom
Cost: £8.25


Ancoats: the full tour on Zoom

Next event is on Zoom: Saturday 17 April 2021, 2pm.
Meet: On your computer!
: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Industry began in Ancoats, a factory hoot from Manchester city centre. In 1700 it was a semi-rural enclave by the river Medlock, with Ancoats Hall home to the lords of the Manchester manor. By 1800 this was a teeming, squalid suburb, blackened with soot, the smell of belching smoke hanging in the air.

The conditions were shocking: the noise of thundering machinery, suffocating air, high accident rates and notorious employment practices at the expense of an emaciated, underpaid workforce slave-driven for unsustainably long hours amidst disease, darkness, damp and desperate heat, living in dingy streets of tiny workers’ houses, jerry-built two-up two down brick boxes standing back-to-back so that as many properties as possible could be squeezed into the smallest of spaces.

Child labour was rife.

As one Ancoats mill owner explained to the early 19th century poet laureate Robert Southey, when he visited Manchester in 1808, “You see these children, sir. By the time they are seven or eight years old they are bringing in the money. They come at five in the morning, they leave at six and another set relieves them for the night; the wheels never stand still.”

This was never a pleasant area, yet some of the mid 19th century buildings, such as the Ice Palace, which we will visit on the walk, were exquisitely detailed with Italianate effects, perfect for the large influx of Italian immigrants, while the earlier mill buildings by the Rochdale Canal, though functional and formal, were palaces of Mammon, monuments to mercantilism, magnificent in their might and mass.

Later experiments in social planning saw some wonderful additions to the locale: the vast Victoria Square, Manchester’s oldest surviving municipal estate, is still an astonishing site. Even more striking is the jazzy Daily Express building on Great Ancoats Street, its gorgeous curves of glass and vitrolite the perfect coating for what was then a quality mass market newspaper owned by the formidable Lord Beaverbrook.

The late 20th century saw Ancoats die. The mills shut, the workshops wound down, the canal almost dried up. Now it’s all cleaned up. The mills are modern workshops; the factories smart apartments, while new developments such as the much lauded New Islington project with its funkily named Chips Building and Dutch-styled houses are attracting investment…slowly.

Start: 17/04/2021 2:00 pm
End: 17/04/2021 3:15 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
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Cost: £8.25


Manchester in 12 Songs

As Ian Curtis sang: “I’ve been waiting for a guide…”

Next tour is on Zoom: Sunday 18 April 2021.
Meeting point: On your computer!
Booking: Please press here to book with Eventbrite.

An ingenious tour devised by ex-Mojo journalist Ed Glinert, relates the stories of twelve much-loved songs set in Manchester, about Manchester, evocative of Manchester, told in full at the appropriate location.

It’s the sound of the city brought to life on the city’s streets! 

Don’t want to give too much away, but here’s one interesting fact: Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town”. A Dublin song? No! A Manchester song. A sort of dedication to a well-known set of local lads. They drank at the Circus Tavern. Perhaps we’ll end there.

Manchester in 10 Songs (1)Manchester in 10 Songs (2)Canada House

Start: 18/04/2021 11:30 am
End: 18/04/2021 12:45 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
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Cost: £8.25


Liverpool in 12 Songs

Next tour is on Zoom: Sunday 18 April 2021, 2.30pm. 
Meet: on your computer!
: Please press here to book with evenbrite.

Only 12 songs? We will tour the city finding the locations and telling the stories that inspired some of the world’s greatest songs.
It’s a long list to cut down from to find the soundtrack to the beat city. Here’s some of them.

• Beatles – Good Morning, Good Morning
• The KLF – It’s Grim Up North
• Beatles – Do You Want To Know A Secret
• The Real Thing – Children of the Ghetto
• John Lennon – Give Peace A Chance
• Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
• Cilla Black – Anyone Who Had A Heart
• Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night
• Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Two Tribes
• The Mighty Wah – Come Back
• Beatles – In My Life (re Docker’s Umbrella)
• Billy Fury – Wondrous Place
• Gerry & the Pacemakers – Ferry ’Cross The Mersey
• The Pogues – The Leaving of Liverpool

Start: 18/04/2021 2:30 pm
End: 18/04/2021 3:45 pm
Venue: entrance to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
Google Map
St James Mount, Liverpool, United Kingdom, L1 7AZ
Cost: £8.25


Underground Manchester (on Zoom)


New for lockdown and beyond in 2021
Underground Manchester, the full tour, on Zoom.



This tour: Friday 23 April, 8pm.
Meet: on your computer.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

Thank you, everybody, for making “Underground Manchester: The Full Tour on Zoom” so successful. Dates have been selling out quicker than we can put them up for sale!

Thank you, everybody, for making “Underground Manchester: The Full Tour on Zoom” so successful. Dates have been selling out quicker than we can put them up for sale!


This tour:
Sat 20 February, 3pm. EXTRA SLOT
on your computer.
: Please press here to book with eventbrite.


This is the de-luxe Underground Manchester tour, taking you from the comfort of your living room into the city’s biggest WW2 air-raid shelter, through the subterranean canal, underneath the Cathedral and at last into the atomic bunker.

It’s the on-line version of what was for years the second most popular walking tour in the country, featured in the Manchester Evening NewsDaily Telegraph and on Granada Reports.

So, no longer do you have to don stout boots and descend several hundred feet into an air-less chamber filled with ankle-breaking boulders. It also means we can examine every interesting hidden nook and cranny without breaking sweat. Eureka!

It’s a weird and wild world below. Come with us and find out why!

Cost: about £8.

Underground - skellington Underground 2Underground - me in the darkUnderground - group in transhipment dock

Start: 23/04/2021 8:00 pm
End: 23/04/2021 9:15 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
-, -, United Kingdom
Cost: £8.25


Discovering Manchester – The Official Walking Tour for Visitors & Locals

This tour: Sat 24 April 2021.
Meet: Central Library, St Peter’s Square, 10.45am.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.
Cost : £11.

This is a tribute to the world’s greatest industrial city, the industrial strength city, the capital of the North. Come with us to:
* The library built to look like the Pantheon.
* The hotel wrongly famous for the meeting of Rolls and Royce.
* The memorial to the Peterloo Massacre.
* Manchester’s most important ever building, named after the political system that made Manchester rich.
* The glorious Gothic library home to the oldest remnant of the New Testament.
* The Hidden Gem church with the most remarkable religious paintings of the 20th century.
* The parliament of the cotton lords.

We will cover every topic that has made Manchester:

• Northern Pride
• Gothic Architecture
• Cotton Mills
• The Ship Canal
• Music
• Corrie
• Football
• Scientific Discovery

…from the early days of the cotton entrepreneurs to the modern international city.

Start: 24/04/2021 10:45 am
End: 24/04/2021 12:30 pm
Venue: Central Library
Google Map
St Peter's Square, Manchester, United Kingdom, M2 5PD
Cost: £11


Strangeways on Zoom: Anniversary of the End of the 1990 Riots

Next tour is on Zoom: Sunday 25 April 2021, 11am.
Meet: On your computer. Yours; not the bloke next door’s.
Booking: If you’d like to go to Strangeways, the law will help you. Alternatively, just follow the orders from the guv’nor below.
Oh, alright: Please press here to book with eventbrite.
Bring: Bucket for slopping out.
End: Somewhere near the Governor’s office.

Strangeways. The very name is enough to send a frisson of fear down the spine of the most hardened felons.

Strangeways has been home to the most evil elements in existence – Ian Brady and Harold Shipman – and temporary refuge of political prisoners such as Christabel Pankhurst and Austin Stack, the Irish Republican who was one of the few to escape from its clutches.

Even Ian Brown, ex-Stone Roses, was briefly incarcerated within in 1998. No, not for inflicting his tuneless drone and inane lyrics on humanity but for getting into a strop on an aeroplane. 60 days. So what was it like in Strangeways, Ian? “Dirty. The food was like dog food.” He’s out now.

Ian Brady was sent here for stealing from Smithfield Market, where he worked in the late 1950s. John Robson Walby (alias Gwynne Owen Evans), was hanged at Strangeways on August 13, 1964 – the last person in England to suffer this punishment. (No, it wasn’t Ruth Ellis).

In April 1990 three hundred prisoners filed into the chapel to attend the church service. During the sermon a prisoner, later identified as Paul Taylor, stood up and shouted: “I would just like to say, right, that this man has just talked about the blessing of the heart and how a hardened heart can be delivered. No it cannot, not with resentment, anger and bitterness and hatred being instilled in people.”

It all kicked off. Riot!

Prisoners took to the roof and began to dismantle the prison for 25 days. 147 staff and 47 prisoners were injured. One prisoner and one prison officer died. Your NMW guide, Ed Glinert, was ordered by his editor at the Sun to doorstep home secretary David Waddington. He never made it.

Later, Paul Taylor and Alan Lord faced a five-month trial as its ringleaders. Both were acquitted of murder. The riot resulted in the Woolfe Inquiry which ended the practice of slopping out and saw the jail rebuilt and euphemistically renamed as Her Majesty’s Prison, Manchester. But to everyone else it’s still good old Strangeways.

Start: 25/04/2021 11:00 am
End: 25/04/2021 12:15 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
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Cost: £8.25


The Town Hall Ford Madox Brown Murals on Zoom

This tour: Sunday 25 April 2021, 2pm.
Meet: on your computer.
Booking: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

• Ford Madox Brown’s Town Hall Murals, explained in full – every last brush stroke, every story, every character, every important detail – by Ed Glinert.

Murals - Wycliffe

Ed Glinert, unveils his research into Ford Madox Brown’s Town Hall murals on Zoom; perfect given that the Town Hall is closed till 2024.

The curious viewer who enters the Great Hall looks at the Murals and asks: why these scenes, why this version of history? The 12 panels contain a palette full of stories but also a catalogue of twists.

It seems perverse to find a panel illustrating the baptism of a king that never came to Manchester but not of the Peterloo Massacre. It seems strange to find a mural of an Oxford cleric tried for heresy at London’s St Paul’s but nothing about the opening of the world’s first railway station in Manchester.

And here’s another odd thing; a series of paintings decorating a room that ranks as the crowning creation of Victorian Gothic revival architecture and design contains no Victorian stories among them. How odd, how ironic, how Pre-Raphaelite.

Start: 25/04/2021 2:00 pm
End: 25/04/2021 3:30 pm
Venue: Your computer
Google Map
-, -, United Kingdom
Cost: £8.25


Underground London: What’s Below the Capital (on Zoom)

Next tour is on Zoom: Tuesday 27 April 2021, 5.30pm.
: Please press here to book with eventbrite.

10 million people in the world’s greatest city, but what’s down below – secret government installations, atomic bunkers, dead tube stations

Underground London,
not London Underground!

Join Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s London Compendium and tour guide for New London Walks, on location in the capital, heading deep down London, opening up the tunnels, bunkers and subterranean spaces tempting you below.

We will discover:

• The tunnel you’re not supposed to know about which connects 10 Downing Street to Buckingham Palace.

• The Pindar bunker where the government take refuge during times of crisis (so what’s new?).

• Those long deserted underground stations. Who knows what’s down there?

• Underground rivers such as the Fleet.

• The Thames tunnel linking Wapping and Rotherhithe, the first such in the world, which nearly killed Brunel.

• The Tower subway which featured in the Jack the Ripper story.

• Underground military citadels and air-raid shelters used during the War.

• Cemetery catacombs.

No torch, sturdy boots or clinking keys needed. All done from the safety of your laptop…

Start: 27/04/2021 5:30 am
End: 27/04/2021 6:45 pm
Venue: Your computer
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Cost: £8.25


Manchester Town Hall De-Luxe Tour (on Zoom)

Town Hall EXC

Next tour: Tuesday 27 April 2021, 8.00pm.
On your computer!
Booking: Please press here to book on eventbrite.


Manchester Town Hall – the full tour on Zoom!

Yes, while England’s greatest town hall is closed for renovations (reopening 2024), come with us on this ingenious alternative.

Ed Glinert, who has conducted more actual tours of Manchester Town Hall than any other guide and is about to publish a detailed book on the building, will be hosting this virtual Zoom tour.

The format means we can enter every grand reception room, take in the awesomeness of the Great Hall, peruse the Ford Madox Brown murals, descend to the cobbled undercroft, marvel at the Gothic architecture, explain the religious symbolism, identify the statues, monitor the political set-up, recall the fascinating history…and without having to miss out key stops because a meeting room has been booked out.

This offers so much more than was covered in the old tours – and all from the comfort of your own laptop!

* Soon you’ll be able to buy Ed Glinert’s wonderful new book, “Manchester Town Hall: The First 140 Glorious Years”.


Want to know more?
Manchester’s municipal palace, in all its grand Gothic glory, comes alive with a tour devised by Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s The Manchester Compendium.

This is the de-luxe tour – from the towering spires on the skyline to the mosaics on the foyer floor; from the flowing cotton tendrils in the state rooms to the ouroborus snake at the entrance; from the missing statue in the empty niche of the Great Hall to the tale of John Wycliffe’s bones defining the fifth Ford Madox Brown mural.

Town Hall clock tower - clock face


Manchester Town Hall is the crowning glory of the world’s greatest industrial city, a Gothic Gormenghast of stone statues, soaring spires and religious symbolism crowned with the famous Ford Madox Brown murals.

Our tour takes in everything – the architecture, the portraits, the pictures, the politics, the Order of the Garter crest, the strange animal that guards the entrance, the legend about the Nazis’ love of the building…right up to the thankfully abandoned plans to demolish it.

Our guides are brilliantly informed, wonderfully entertaining and great fun to listen to. We constantly discover new things and unearth unusual angles about the building. We do more than just point out the bleedin’ obvious; we reveal, unveil, cross-reference. We talk about the sacrilegious placing of a cotton boll on top of the church-like tower; the masonic symbolism to show the “true time” on the clock; the coup within the Labour Party that abolished the post of Lord Mayor.

For a fully detailed, definitive, de-luxe Manchester Town Hall tour, this is the only option. Please read to the end for a full and frank preview!

The tour has been devised by Ed Glinert, author of “The Manchester Compendium”, and no one knows the building better than Glinert, the only Manchester tour guide who has been there during all the great Town Hall events of the last 35 years…from the palace coup of 1984, when the position of Lord Mayor was abolished, to the carving of some of the last Freeman of Manchester awards on the council chamber wall.

If you want to understand Manchester Town Hall, be guided around by New Manchester Walks. Yes, this is the de-luxe tour. 

A Really Great Review
“Please thank the guide today for a most enjoyable tour.”

It’s wonderful when a customer sends an e-mail with the above praise. And that’s exactly what happened after Sue Grimditch’s Town Hall tour.

“Good Morning. Just letting you know how much I enjoyed the Town Hall Tour yesterday with Sue.  It was fabulous – a wonderful experience.  Sue was professional, friendly and entertaining – she made the Town Hall come to life and her knowledge was endless.  She went beyond what I expected and I can’t wait to go on another one.  I have wanted to look round the Town Hall for years but didn’t know there was a guided tour and I couldn’t have wished for a better guide than Sue.

Everyone on the tour was impressed with her knowledge, not only of the Town Hall, but the historic, architectural and political history of Manchester – it was worth every penny.

Well done Sue – and thank you for a most interesting, informative and fun day out.  I’m looking at your brochure and already planning my next adventure.”


You’d like to know more?
Ed Glinert, author of Penguin’s Manchester Compendium and editor of Penguin Classics’ Sherlock Holmes stories, sums up the essence of the building and its history.

Fittingly for a city that prides itself as a municipal power on a scale rivalling the great city-states in European history, Manchester Town Hall is the grandest, greatest and most imposing building in the region.

It was built from 1868-77 to the Gothic designs of Alfred Waterhouse whose plan, one of 136 entries, while not the most handsome and not even the winning entry initially, was the one the judges felt made the best use of light, ventilation and the awkward triangular site available.

The Corporation had given no preference for the building’s architectural style, but to emphasise Manchester’s newly found wealth from textiles Waterhouse chose as his model the 13th century Gothic cloth halls of Flanders. He built in brick faced with stone from the West Yorkshire Spinkwell quarries for the exterior, ashlar for the interior, and placed above the main entrance a 386-foot high clock tower. He also included much statuary on the façade. General Agricola, the Roman who founded Manchester in AD 79, is honoured with a statue over the main doorway. Above him are Henry III and Elizabeth I, and there are also statues of Thomas de la Warre, founder of what is now the Cathedral, and Humphrey Chetham who founded what is now Europe’s oldest library a mile away. Inside the ground floor entrance are busts of the scientists John Dalton, with glassware at his feet, and James Prescott Joule, cross-legged, leaning on an elbow.

Inside the building Waterhouse’s skill becomes apparent. Seven staircases lead up from the ground floor; some grand and imposing, others spiralling mysteriously at the corners of the building. On the first floor are the Lord Mayor’s rooms, the Conference Hall, which contains the original council chamber and contains a huge Gothic chimney-piece, oak screen and wrought-iron galleries where the press and public sat, and the Great Hall, the building’s tour de force, which John Ruskin called “the most truly magnificent Gothic apartment in Europe”. In the panels of the Great Hall’s hammerbeam roof are gilded costs of arms of the nations with which Manchester traded, and on the walls are Ford Madox Brown’s 12 murals which illustrate episodes in Manchester’s history.

The internal courtyard in the basement is often used as a Victorian setting in TV dramas, while throughout the profusion of cloister-like corridors, spiral staircases, bridges and stairwells creates a wonderful sense of drama.

The Town Hall was officially opened on 13 September 1877 with a grand ceremony marred only by the refusal of Queen Victoria to attend. Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister had to notify the city cryptically that it was “out of the power of Her Majesty to be present on this interesting occasion”. The reasons, undisclosed at the time, were that the Queen was unhappy that the Manchester Corporation had commissioned a statue of the regicide Oliver Cromwell. She was also wary of being seen on the same platform as the one time fiercely radical Manchester mayor, Abel Heywood, who had once been imprisoned for distributing publications which argued for abolishing the monarchy.

Such was Manchester’s penchant for empire building, by the 1920s it considered the Town Hall too small. E. Vincent Harris was duly commissioned to build an extension on an adjacent site to the south, and it is there that the council now meets. Yet ironically when the Corporation commissioned chief surveyor Rowland Nicholas to draw up the Manchester Plan of 1945 in rebuilding the city after the Second World War, he decided the main Town Hall was now too big, and suggested it be replaced at excessive cost with a streamlined modernist replacement. Fortunately for Manchester his proposals were shelved. 

Start: 27/04/2021 8:00 pm
End: 27/04/2021 9:15 pm
Venue: Your computer
-, -, United Kingdom
Cost: £8.75
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