I had an interesting day. My Mini needed a service and a little job done on it. I decided to take the day off, drive the car to the garage and then go into Manchester city centre for a mooch, some lunch and some Tom time. But yesterday afternoon the plan unravelled when I got a call and was asked to come into work to do a specific job. So I dropped the car off and took one of those bus things, that the public use, to get to the office. I have problems with public transport. I’m happy to use the tram system which is quick and straightforward and often faster than driving around the city. Buses, I find, are too full of the public for my liking and they do tend to wander about a bit when getting from point A, where I am, to point B, where I want to be.
The bus I got on was full of kids off to school. In spite of being the oldest person on the bus, none of them seemed to want to stand to let me sit down. It was weird being the oldest person somewhere. Barring accidents I would be the first person in that group to die! Sobering thought. At one point the bus driver turned round and shouted down the bus to whoever was constantly pressing the bell to stop the bus, stop it now! He eyed all the kids. It was actually, inadvertently, me who was leaning against a post on the bus and every time the bus jolted my back hit the bell. We got to the kids’ school and they all trooped off. I was impressed as every one of them said ‘thank you’, ‘cheers’, ‘nice one’ or some other appreciative phrase to the bus driver. Kids get a lot of criticism but this bunch were stars. I felt guilty letting them take the collective rap for the bell pushing.
I got to the office where someone had had another think. The job I had to do went to someone else and I was sent off to Altrincham, about ten minutes walk for home where I’d been two hours earlier. At least I could use the tram. I did my job and made my way back to the tram station.
In spite of living near Altrincham, I don’t post much about it which is a shame. It’s in the affluent south western suburbs of the city where the city come to a dead stop as it hits Cheshire. Some people say it’s in Cheshire (hasn’t been in it for years) and some people refer to it as a country market town but it was surrounded by sprawling Manchester suburbia nearly 100 years ago. Having said that, the suburbia surrounding it isn’t at all bad with nice properties along tree lined streets connecting parks. If you want to buy into this suburban idyll you will need a healthy bank account. Small houses and apartments sell for £500,000. And if you want one of the large detached houses behind the wrought iron gates you are talking millions.
Altrincham has had a market since 1290 and it is still a thriving enterprise. Reimagined recently as a foodie paradise, it is doing well in its Victorian market hall. But the existing building is not on the original site. The original site is a 100 metres away on the Old Market Place on Dunham Road part of the busy A56. Today the A56 is one of the main routes in and out of the city centre and you don’t get the sense that the area used to be a market. The A56 is an interesting road itself as it is the road that linked the Roman legionary HQ at Deva (Chester) to the the little fort at Mancunium which would eventually become Manchester. People have been travelling along this road for 2000 years and probably longer. The original market would have been set up around the market cross on market day. The original cross has gone but this replica has been put up.
Around the market place, inns would have sprung up to cater for the influx of visitors into the town for the market. They are still there but now converted into restaurants. I’ve cut the busy A56 out of the pictures and you do get a sense of the old market town that Altrincham once was.
My favourite building in this part of the town is this next one. It’s a very grand one that used to be a bank I think. It closed as such years ago and the banks moved down to Stamford New Road, closer to the shops. The ground floor is made of the local red sandstone like Tarvin St Andrews last week. The top floor is Tudor inspired with black and white half timbered walls and Tudor style windows. It’s a fake of course, a Victorian pastiche of Tudor architecture. It’s all too perfect, everything is very straight and calculated. Real Tudor buildings would have sagged and warped over the centuries.
A lot of money was thrown at this building, looking at the detail in the chimneys.
Another building I like on Market Place is this very simple brick built, Victorian office block that occupies a triangular site across the A56 from the Market Cross. I call it the Flatiron Building as it reminds me of the more famous on in New York City. This one is older than New York’s though.