Across the River Irwell from Spinningfields is the new business area with the old name of New Bailey. Over the next few years the surface car park between the river and the Ancient Egyptian styled railway viaduct is going to be developed into another new business district for the city.
The current building that is being put up is this one.
All that is there at the moment is the double cores that have just reached their full height.
Before the building started, as usual, the archaeologists were sent in. I always like to go and see what they have dug up. Usually, it’s been some of those little working class houses that used to ring the the city centre. Always interesting to see but not exceptional. No Roman villas or Greek temples were ever erected in Manchester sadly.
But we seem to have hit the jackpot on this site. The area is called New Bailey after the New Bailey Prison, a Victorian house of correction that used to exist on this site. By the size of what they have found it must have been quite a substantial, imposing building. But as the city grew in population and so did the criminal fraternity and a new prison was built in the wonderfully named Strangeways area to cope with the demand. That prison, with it’s astonishingly rude chimney, is still in use just north of the Manchester Arena. In fact it’s actually commemorating an infamous anniversary. It’s 25 years ago there was a huge riot in the prison, the authorities lost control of the prison and the inmates spent 25 days on the roof. Fortunately they didn’t get out into the city but by the time order was restored £60,000,000 worth of damage had been done. The prison was rebuilt and renamed Manchester Prison but it’s still known as Strangeways in the city.
But back to New Bailey. This is what they found on the site of the new building. Thanks to the Manchester Evening News for this great picture.
And here are some old plans of the New Bailey Prison. The new building is going up over the curvy part of the prison.
At the other end of the prison site is this 1960s office block. Looking at the huge poster on the side of the building, it looks like it’s days are numbered.
Well, they have actually started the demolition round the back.
This is what the new building will look like. Hopefully, before the new building goes up, the archaeologists will be able to get in and have a dig around in the other half of the old prison.