Jonathan Schofield ponders the implications of another 'street food' destination for Manchester
Allied London has allies in London it seems.
Mike Ingall, the chief exec at Allied London, let slip on Linkedin that the old Albert Shed complex on the River Irwell (close to The Factory arts centre construction site) is on the verge of being transformed by Boxpark, a London operator.
We all know what it will be. It will be a street food ‘concept’ with entertainment and some retail.
Albert Shed here is not to be confused with Albert’s Shed in Castlefield. The latter is not a shed but a restaurant owned by the Ramsbottom family and is a proper building. Albert Shed on the River Irwell, at the junction of Water Street and Quay Street, is most definitely a shed.
The shed's one moment of fame was brief. It was the home of the ill-fated and short-lived Granada TV soap Albion Market. In Manchester folklore, the programme’s sorry existence has been forgotten, blasted into oblivion by the Madchester Summers of Love in '88/'89.
So, what will Boxpark be? A roller disco, a vast antiquarian book fair, an aviary for tropical birds?
Of course not. We all know what it will be. It will be a street food "concept" with entertainment and some retail. It will probably be constructed out of reconstituted shipping containers. It will probably be Hatch mark II. That’s what Boxpark do after all.
Boxpark currently has three sites, Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley. Place North West magazine, which found the story on Ingall’s Linkedin, was told by Ingall the full deal isn’t done but he’s shaken hands on it and that’s enough for him.
'Street food' has become a tiresome phrase. Maybe Boxpark could introduce an element of originality to the idea by ensuring the street food is exclusively Lancastrian: rag pudding, hotpot, tripe, black peas, Eccles cakes, Morecambe Bay shrimps, Lune smoked eel, Lancashire cheese - the list is huge. This won't happen, of course.
The odd thing about this news, if it becomes reality, is that just last Wednesday (14 July) Confidentials broke the story of the closure of the Air and Space Hall at the Science and Industry Museum on Liverpool Road. That is a couple of cricket sixes away from Albert Shed to the south-west.
In our story, both the Science and Industry Museum and Manchester City Council, the owners, made much of the fact the former Air and Space Hall and the nearby Upper Campfield Market were to be retained and new uses for the lovely old buildings were being sought with Allied London. The smart money was for at least one of them to become a food hall. After all, they were designed in the 1870s as food markets.
Allied London's Boxpark plan would surely scupper this notion. It scarcely seems sensible to position two food hall type venues so close to each other.
Maybe those Liverpool Road buildings can become roller discos, vast antiquarian book fairs or even an aviary for tropical birds.
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