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Ardwick – The Good, The Bad and The Downright Ugly

Next tour: Sun 19 Feb 2012.

Meet: Malmaison Hotel, 3 Piccadilly Plaza, 11am.

Ardwick was once so desirable a suburb, the richest and most powerful men in Manchester (Nathan Mayer Rothschild, John Rylands) sought it out for their mansions. Okay that was two hundred years ago. Things have changed since. The rich folk have gone. The mansions have been demolished. Ardwick is a sad and sorry site. The council ruined the smart green with its pond and bandstand decades ago. The Hippodrome is now an empty lot. The ground where Manchester City played before they moved to Maine Road in the 1920s has been subsumed by the bus garage. Even the cemetery where John Dalton, Manchester’s first great scientist, was buried has been paved over, the gravestones vanished.

Fortunately, the most notorious vestige of Ardwick’s history – Coverdale Crescent, better known as Fort Ardwick – which once won an award an inter-galactic award for ugliest council estate, beating even the most ferocious projects on Rigal 5, has gone, although we do have the pictures to prove it wasn’t just a nightmare.

Yet evidence of Ardwick’s history remain everywhere; there is even a plaque to remind passers-by of one of the most dramatic events in Manchester history that took place under the railway bridge on Hyde Road – the 1867 rescue of the Irish Republican prisoners form a police van by a group of 30 supporters which culminated in the shooting of a policeman and the last public hangings in Manchester (see Hangman’s Manchester walk).

So why are we starting the walk at the Malmaison, which ain’t exactly in Ardwick? Well there’s the small matter of Ardwick having no easily accessible landmarks where a group can meet. We could have started outside the Apollo but then we wouldn’t have been able to introduce Ardwick slowly from its boundary with Manchester (the River Medlock). We could have started from Ardwick station except only 2 trains a year ever stop there and both of those have been cancelled.