Filthy buildings, royal visits and demolished slums - a pictorial snapshot of Greater Manchester in the sixties

STRANGE decade the sixties. So much excitement; a new world, new buildings, new music. Yet so many opportunities missed, so much sliding away.

In 1962 the CIS Tower became the tallest office block in the UK, three years later the Piccadilly Plaza complex opened, with another ‘skyscraper’ and the oddest looking hotel in the country. This became five-star glamour central, where stage, screen and sport stars would pile in for dinners and balls. The film Billy Liar features Julie Christie strolling across a flowery Piccadilly Gardens, while the closing credits for the Graham Norton of his day, Simon Dee, has the talk-show host drawing up outside the hotel in an E-type Jag, whereupon a mini-skirted girl jumps in and off they go.

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View across Piccadilly Gardens in early 1964. MMU

The Beatles came from Liverpool but Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Freddie and the Dreamers all came from Manchester, where there was a much better club scene in the early sixties, with venues such as the Twisted Wheel breaking new ground. 

The city was also the original host for Top of the Pops (though let’s not mention the blond-haired weirdo who fronted it), and had the best and most influential independent broadcaster in Granada TV, which along with campaigning documentary World in Action, had provided the country from December 1960 with its most popular soap, Coronation Street.

Construction Of Granada Tv 1960
Construction of Granada TV HQ in 1960 Granadaland

Meanwhile the university was expanding apace, Belle Vue was still one of the great British entertainment centres with gig venues, an amusement park and a zoo. United would win the European Cup, City would win the League, and George Best and Mike Summerbee, best mates, one a red, one a blue, would be the apogee of the stylish young man.

But...

The Manchester Guardian, which became The Guardian in 1959, had moved its headquarters to London in 1961; heavy manufacturing, despite a sixties upsurge, was hanging on for grim death; and most symbolically, the Royal Exchange, representing more than 300 years of textile domination, would not see the decade out. And while there had been a building boom in central areas during the 1960s, there were still old bomb sites, hangovers from WWII, which the economy couldn’t reach.

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Hulme, cleared for redevelopment, c. 1967 MMU

Worst of all, the planners and architects of the city were eviscerating Manchester and Salford, shipping their populations out to council estates in peripheral areas of the conurbation. The idea was well-meaning but utterly short-sighted. Of course, the hideous slums needed to be upgraded ('enveloped', we’d call it now), but the mass-murder of housing in these inner areas - seen below with the eerily post-apocalyptic images of Hulme post-clearance – was socially disastrous, destroying well-established communities.

Cities need people. They need flesh and bone. In 1961, the City of Manchester’s population was 662,000. By 1971, it would be 544,000. By 1981, following slum clearance and economic decline, it was 437,000 - more than 200,000 less than in 1960. It’s only in the last twenty years that the population of the city has grown past 500,000 again.

Strange decade, the sixties. So much excitement, so much sliding away...

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Manchester Whit Walk, 1966 Whit Walk procession along Market Street
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A group of five 'K6' public telephone boxes at the edge Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, around 1969.
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A British European Airways (BEA) plane on the apron at Ringway (Manchester) Airport in 1964.
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The concourse at Manchester Central Station in the mid-1960s
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The Bank of England branch office building on King Street, photographed around 1967. Designed by Charles Cockerell in 1845-46.
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Interior of the Whitworth Art Gallery in the mid-1960s, after a refurbishment scheme designed by Bickerdike Allen & Partners.
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Shoppers outside the Marks & Spencer store at the junction of Cross Street, Corporation Street and St Mary's Gate in 1964.
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Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, in the mid 1960s
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The Lass O' Gowrie pub on Charles Street in the late 1960s.
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Students working in the sculpture studio at the Regional College of Art, Manchester, around 1962.
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The Scala cinema on Wilmslow Road, Withington in October 1969. Built in 1912, the Scala was renamed Cine City and was demolished in 2008
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Display of Industrial Design students' work at Manchester College of Art and Design's diploma show, 1969.
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The elevated section of the Mancunian Way under construction in 1966. The tower of UMIST's Faraday Building, also under construction, can be seen rising beyond the flyover on the left of the picture.
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View of Hollings Building (aka the Toast Rack) from the tower of Owen's Park student residences in 1967. Originally built for Hollings College (formerly the Domestic and Trades College) in 1957-60, and designed by the city architect, L. C. Howitt. Ashburne Hall is in the foreground.
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View looking north over the site of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in the mid 1960s. Taken in the vicinity of Grosvenor Street, Chorlton on Medlock, before the construction of the Mancunian Way and the Brunswick housing estate.
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View along Mosley Street towards Piccadilly from the junction with Princess Street in 1966. The City Art Gallery is on the right, with the Commercial Union Assurance building under construction beyond it.
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The official opening of the extension to the Manchester College of Art and Design by Princess Margaret on 2nd October 1966. John Holden (Principal) accompanies Princess Margaret through the link from the old building to the new extension.
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ABC Television House on Mount Street, from the junction of Oxford Street and Lower Mosley Street, c. 1960. Designed by J. E. Beardshaw & Partners and built 1959-60.
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Work by a student at the Regional College of Art, Manchester, 1962.
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View looking north along Oxford Road at All Saints, Manchester, 1966.
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Balloon Structure in the University Quadrangle, 1968
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Student fashion show at Manchester College of Art and Design, 1966. Held in the Assembly Hall in Chatham Building.
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Corner shop and terraced housing in Hulme c. 1967.
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View over Hulme looking north from near to St Mary's church around 1967, showing the extensive area cleared in readiness for redevelopment. The Hippodrome and Playhouse Theatres can be seen near the centre of the picture, with the then newly built South Hulme High School (later Birley High School) to its right.
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Preliminary construction work taking place on open ground on the east side of Hulme, around 1967. The photograph shows the extensive clearance of the area that took place in readiness for its wholesale redevelopment in the late 1960s and early 70s. The newly-built extension to the Manchester College of Art and Design (now Manchester School of Art's/MMU's Chatham Building) can be seen in the background.
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View over the the Victoria Park housing estate in Macclesfield, around 1968. The estate comprised slab blocks of deck access flats built using the Jesperson system of precast concrete units, and linked by overhead walkways. Designed by the Macclesfield Borough Architect in association with Sydney Greenwood.
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View of the train shed from the goods entrance at Manchester Central Station in the mid-1960s.
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A student working in a workshop at the Regional College of Art, Manchester, around 1962.
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View along Ackers Street towards Oxford Road, showing the Church of the Holy Name from the south east. Photographed in the early 1960s. The church of the Holy Name of Jesus was designed by Joseph Aloysius Hansom and built in 1869-71.
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Victorian office buildings on King Street in the early 1960s.
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View of the John Dalton College of Technology from Cambridge Street, around 1967.
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The Plymouth Grove Hotel at the junction of Plymouth Grove and Shakespeare Street, around 1969.
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The woodworking workshop at the Manchester College of Art and Design in April 1968.
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Display of Industrial Design students' work at Manchester College of Art and Design's diploma show, 1968.
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Display of work by Joan Hoverstadt in the exhibition by Foundation Studies staff at the Manchester College of Art and Design in December 1963.
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View along Burlington Street around 1968, with the University of Manchester's Mobberly Tower student residences, Staff House and Refectory building designed by J. S. Beaumont (built 1960-65).
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The elevated section of the Mancunian Way and adjoining slip road at All Saints, c. 1968. Taken from the Cavendish School on Loxford Street looking west towards north Hulme. The space in the foreground was subsequently occupied by the Loxford Tower (completed in 1974), and is now the site of the new MMU Business School.
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The official opening of the extension to the Manchester College of Art and Design by Princess Margaret on 2nd October 1966.
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View across St Peters' Square to the Cenotaph, Library and Town Hall Extension. Taken before the cleaning of the Town Hall in 1965-66.
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View of Radnor Street, Hulme, looking south-east around 1967 shortly before the redevelopment of the area. The George pub at the junction with Pinder Street is on the right of the picture.
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View along Crowborough Street from the junction with Greenhill Street, showing the rear of the Webster Street School, around 1967. One distinctive feature of the school was the playground on the roof.
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Students (and the librarian) working in the library at the Regional College of Art, Manchester, around 1962.
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Diesel trains on platforms 5 and 6 at Manchester Central Station in the mid-1960s.
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The warehouse of James Brown & Son at the corner of Portland Street and Aytoun Street, photographed in the 1960s. Now part of the Portland Hotel, the building was designed by Edward Walters and built in 1851-52.
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View of Albert Square and the Albert Memorial in the early 1960s.
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The Manchester City Art Gallery at the junction of Mosley Street and Princess Street, photographed in the early 1960s. Designed by Charles Barry as the Royal Manchester Institution and built 1829-36
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Clay preparation area in the ceramics workshop at Manchester College of Art and Design in April 1968.
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View of the 'Sehen' exhibition about the Foundation Studies course at the Staatlichen Werkkunstschule Saarbrucken, held in the gallery of the Manchester College of Art and Design in September - October 1968.
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The rear of Peter House from Lower Mosley Street in 1967. Designed by Amsell & Bailey for the Clerical Medical & General Life Assurance Company, 1958.
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Model wearing work by a fashion student at the Regional College of Art, Manchester, 1962. Photographed among exhibits in the College's gallery (now the Holden Gallery).
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The University of Manchester's Mathematics Building on Oxford Road in 1969. Designed by Scherrer & Hicks and built 1967-68.
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View towards Manchester city centre with Grosvenor Square and Oxford Road in the foreground, September 1965. Taken from the roof of the newly-built extension to the Manchester College of Art and Design (Chatham Building).
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Terraced houses in Lucknow Grove, Hulme, mid 1960s.
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View south along Oxford Road from the junction with Booth Street during the construction of the University of Manchester's Precinct Centre in 1969. The newly built Mathematics Building, can be seen beyond the bridge.
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The Embden Street Junior School in Hulme, photographed around 1967 shortly before the redevelopment of the area. [UGM-07
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Display of Painting students' work at Manchester College of Art and Design's diploma show, 1968.
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The Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) Building from Miller Street in the late 1960s. Designed by Gordon Tait of Sir John Burnet, Tait & Partners with G.S. Hay of the CWS and built 1959-62.
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A student draws a sculpture in the exhibition of the work of Cliff Wilkinson and William Bailey in the gallery of the Regional College of Art, Mancheter in February 1963.
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View along Portland Street on the eastern side of Piccadilly Gardens, early 1964.
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The official opening of the extension to the Manchester College of Art and Design by Princess Margaret on 2nd October 1966. The crowds gathered outside.
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Facade of Chorlton on Medlock Town Hall, photographed in the late 1960s.
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Entrance to the John Dalton College of Technology on Chester Street, late 1960s.
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The George Inn on the junction of Radnor Street and Pinder Street, Hulme, left isolated by the demolition of surrounding houses and shops.
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View along Boundary Street West shortly after completion of the Manchester College of Art and Design's extension in 1966.
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Work by a fashion student at Manchester College of Art and Design, photographed in All Saints Square, 1967.
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Unidentified street in Hulme, with a terrace of early 19th century back-to-back houses. Photographed around 1967, shortly before the redevelopment of the area.
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The Reform Club on the junction of King Street and Spring Gardens, photographed in the late 1960s. Designed by Edward Salomans and built 1870-71. On the left of the picture is the Midland Bank, designed by Edwin Luytens with Whinney Son and Austen Hall, 1933-35.
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Crowborough Street near the junction with Ridley Grove, in the Hulme/Greenheys district of Manchester, photographed around 1967.
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A student working in a studio at the Regional College of Art, Manchester, around 1962.
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The Marist School for Girls, formerly the Denton Street and Bangor Street schools in Hulme, photographed around 1967 before it was demolished as part of the redevelopment of the area.
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The George Street facade of the Athenaeum, designed by Charles Barry and built in 1837-39. Originally designed as a club, it was later incorporated into Manchester Art Gallery. Here photographed in the late 1960s.
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View along Rosamond Street West from Cambridge Street, with the Sikh temple (Gurdwara) and the York Minster pub on the corner of Higher Chatham Street, around 1967.
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View along Higher Ormond Street towards the (then) new extension to Manchester College of Art and Design (the current Chatham Building), around 1968.
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Unidentified street in Hulme, photographed around 1967 shortly before the redevelopment of the area.
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Students working in a ceramics workshop at Manchester College of Art and Design in April 1968.
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View along Radnor Street, Hulme, near the junction with Fenwick Street, around 1967. Photographed at the time when most of the area had been cleared for wholesale redevelopment, All the buildings in the middle ground, including the Raglan Hotel (on the right) were subsequently demolished to make way for the extensive housing scheme of the late 1960s and early 70s. St Mary's church on the left of the picture is still standing.
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View over Hulme looking south west towards St Mary's church around 1967, showing the extensive area cleared in readiness for redevelopment. The then newly built South Hulme High School (later Birley High School) can be seen to the right of the church
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Fine Art students' work displayed in the Dip AD exhibition at Manchester College of Art and Design, Summer 1966.
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View from Chester Street of the tower element of the John Dalton College of Technology in 1966-67. Designed by S.G. Besant Roberts (City Architect) and opened in 1964.
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View of the Piccadilly Plaza development whilst under construction in early 1964. Taken from the junction of Portland Street and Chorlton Street.
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Display of Industrial Design students' work at Manchester College of Art and Design's diploma show, 1968.
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View of one of the side-aisles of the gallery of the Manchester College of Art and Design during an exhibition of work by sculpture students in June 1968.
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St Andrew's House (left) and Telephone House (centre), two newly built office blocks on the south-east side of Portland Street in 1963.
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Broomhurst Hall shortly after completion in 1963. Designed by S.G. Besant Roberts (City Architect) for Didsbury College of Education.
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Students drawing in the exhibition of the work of Cliff Wilkinson and William Bailey in the gallery of the Regional College of Art, Mancheter in February 1963.
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View of Highland House on Victoria Bridge Street, designed by Leach Rhodes Walker and built in 1966. In the foreground is the Grosvenor Hotel at the northern end of Deansgate, demolished c. 1970.
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The newly-built extension to Manchester College of Art and Design (now MMU' s Chatham Building) in 1966. The site in the foreground is now occupied by the Royal Northern College of Music (i.e. Rosamond Street West runs from left to right).
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View across Hulme showing areas cleared for redevelopment. Taken from the extension to the Manchester College of Art and Design (the current Chatham Building) around 1966.

This is Manchester 1970s will follow soon...

Images from the Visual Resources Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections. All rights reserved.