Go mad for Manchester
Date Posted: 11/05/2010
We tell you why Manchester is a must.
Manchester is one of the UK’s most exciting cities, where the birthplace of the industrial revolution meets outstanding modern attractions.
The legacy of warehouses, mills and canals has left the city with an intriguing character that can be explored through museums and heritage sites. Groups are often surprised at the compact size of the city centre, with many attractions accessible on foot. Alternatively, there is a free Metroshuttle bus service that runs throughout the day.
All itineraries should include a visit to the Quays, the impressive waterfront destination next to the Manchester Ship Canal. A 15-minute journey by tram from the city centre, the area is home to a host of major museums and attractions, including Imperial War Museum North, The Lowry and Lowry Outlet Mall, along with a wide choice of places to eat and drink.
When it’s time for some retail therapy, the options range from historic markets to discount outlet malls and famous name stores including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. Located in the heart of the UK, Manchester is also an ideal base to explore historic cities such as York and Chester and scenic areas including the Peak District and Lake District. All in all, it’s a great group destination.
Full steam ahead at transport museum
Bury Transport Museum, ten miles from Manchester city centre, has just reopened following a £3 million refurbishment. The museum closed in 2003 due to the structural condition of the Grade II listed building, once a warehouse for the East Lancashire Railway.
If you visited in the past, the new museum now looks very different from the one that closed. It’s bright and spacious, with outdoor displays of historic road and rail vehicles along with exhibitions of transport artefacts and interactive exhibits telling the story of local transport through the ages. One of the highlights is a bus simulator, enabling your group members to try their hand at being a bus driver!
Something to write home about
Novelist Elizabeth Gaskell also wrote the biography of her friend Charlotte Brontë and will be familiar to many groups through BBC adaptations of her works, including Wives and Daughters, North and South and most recently Cranford. Her writing focussed on the working lives and hardship of people living in the industrial age.
This year marks the bicentenary of her birth and it is being celebrated in Manchester, where she spent her married life and did most of her writing. Groups will be able to visit 84 Plymouth Grove, her Manchester home, which opens to the public on 6th June following a period of restoration. Known for years as ‘the pink house’, the elegant detached villa was built around 1838 when Plymouth Grove was on the outskirts of the city. A programme of commemorative events will be staged for the rest of the year, including an exhibition at the John Ryland’s library, which is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Europe. For a full list of events visit www.elizabethgaskell.co.uk.
More at MOSI
Located on the historic site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station, and housed in five listed buildings, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) showcases Manchester’s scientific and industrial past, present and future.
A £7 million refurbishment of MOSI’s main building is currently underway. Scheduled to be completed this summer, it will include an exciting new gallery called Revolution Manchester telling the story of the city, a new entrance and bigger and better places to shop and eat.
The museum offers a wealth of fascinating experiences. Your group members can take a trip down memory lane and visit recreated living rooms of the 1930s and 1950s in the Electricity Gallery, marvel at the sights and sounds of the cotton mills in the Textiles Gallery, and see the mighty moving wheels of industry in the Power Hall, which houses a large collection of working steam engines. Entrance to MOSI is free and special talks and demonstrations are available for groups.
Let’s go to Legoland
Family groups will want to build in a visit to the newly opened Legoland Discovery Centre at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.
Offering a fun, hands-on experience for youngsters aged three to 12, the centre is based around themed attractions. In the Lego Factory visitors can discover how raw plastic is turned into the famous building bricks and Miniland, created from 1.5 million bricks, features key landmarks from Manchester and the surrounding area. The centre also includes a 4D cinema, interactive Lego ride and Master Model Builder’s workshop.
Power to the people
Following a two-year closure and a £12.5 million redevelopment, the People’s History Museum reopened its doors earlier this year. This impressive museum has doubled in size, allowing more of its fascinating and thought-provoking collection to be on display.
Groups can join a march through time and explore world-changing ideas fought for by the working people of Britain. Charting the history of democracy, the story starts with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 when 60,000 mill workers and their families held a reform meeting to protest against appalling living and working conditions. Other exhibits include the formation of the Women’s Social and Political Union in Manchester by famous suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and like-minded women. The new museum includes the world’s largest collection of political banners and admission is free.
Ten great group attractions
1 Imperial War Museum North: This award-winning museum reveals how war shapes lives through a series of powerful exhibitions. Entrance is free and benefits for pre-booked groups include a themed welcome session and access to the Air Shard Viewing Platform with spectacular views across the Manchester Ship Canal.
2 Trafford Quay’s Leisure Village: The ultimate getaway destination for active groups, facilities include the Chill Factor indoor ski centre, Airkix skydiving tunnel and Playgolf with 64 driving bays.
3 Trafford Centre: If you prefer shopping to sport head for the adjoining Trafford Centre. Benefits include a meet and greet service for coach parties and group discount voucher booklets offering savings of up to 30 per cent.
4 The Lowry: One of the north west’s premier art centres, the galleries house modern and contemporary art including one of the largest collections of works by L. S. Lowry, famous for his matchstick men paintings.
5 Manchester United Museum & Tour Centre: Walk in the footsteps of legendary players, admire glittering trophies and embark on an enthralling behind-the-scenes stadium tour at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United.
6 Manchester Wheel: For unforgettable views of the cityscape take a 13-minute ride in the sky on the giant wheel.
7 Palace Theatre: A visit to the ‘grand old lady’ of Manchester’s Oxford Street is a wonderful way to spend an evening. Hosting major touring musicals, often starring celebrities, the theatre offers group discounts and combined ticket and meal packages.
8 City Centre Cruises: Enjoy a different view of Manchester with a floating tour around Salford Quays. Ranging from two to four hours, options include lunch and afternoon tea cruises for groups of 25 or more.
9 Manchester Museum: Explore the world in a day through 15 galleries featuring collections from all over the world, including Egyptian mummies and prehistoric creatures.
10 Chinatown: Take your group to experience the lights, sounds and tantalising smells of Chinatown, where many restaurants welcome group bookings.