This is the second installment of our 'Rooftopping' series (you can see the first from The Midland here), in which we scale some of Manchester's most iconic buildings and get the camera out.
AS TOWERS start to scrape the sky all around the city it's good to don the hi-vis jacket and scale the mother of them all.
Nobody is alone on Manchester Cathedral tower. Here is a community of the ages
Manchester Cathedral tower was the tallest structure in the city for centuries until it was ousted by factory chimneys as industrialisation took over two hundred or so years ago (check our article here).
It was the acid rain created by those chimneys that did for the second tower on the site which had stood since 1421. The Collyhurst sandstone from which it was constructed was crumbling badly, so an architect called JP Holden rebuilt it in a much tougher yellow sandstone in 1868. He added 6m (20ft) and based his design, loosely, on the original.
Curiously, while scaling the spiral staircase of the tower the walls still appear lined with the local sandstone from a mile north. Was this recyled from the older tower?
You emerge into daylight, 41m (135ft) above the city, into a forest of finials and pinnacles. The effect is magical, a Gothic wonderland of light and detail. There are a few more steps to the flagpole and the uncontained view there.
What is very sweet here and a detail impossible to see from street level are the heads carved around the pinnacles on the tower. These represent faces from the long centuries the various churches on this site have witnessed. Nobody is alone on Manchester Cathedral. Here is a community of the ages, a host of Saxon, Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian people.
Modern Manchester pulses below and its skyline moves and shifts pushing way higher than the tower on this ancient site. Yet having a population of its past watching over us in 2016 I find comforting. We wouldn't be here without those people having been there. No time lives in isolation, the past is always with us, almost as palpable as the present and as uncertain as the future.
Expanded view south east
Manchester and Salford kissing at Greengate Square, with the shadow of the tower bridging the river