Those of you who have been following Russell T. Davies’ recent series about gay life in Manchester in the early twenty first century, ‘Cucumber, Banana, Tofu’, might recognise this building as the one that housed the amazing, but too cheap and too good to be true, loft apartment inhabited by Freddie and Dean and then Henry.
Russell T. Davies wrote the groundbreaking series about gay life in Manchester at the turn of the Millennium, ‘Queer As Folk.’ At that point Manchester’s Canal Street was up and running as the centre of gay life in the city, well known in Manchester and in the wider gay community in the UK but not much beyond. It concentrated on the difference in age of consent between gay and straight people. The series was a huge success and catapulted Manchester into the first rank of cities known around the world for their gay culture.
The world has moved on, at least in the UK, the age of consent battle was won years ago and now legally based civil partnerships have been introduced, enjoying similar benefits as marriage for the straight community. Henry, in the series, doesn’t have one and nearly loses the house and the money he shared with his deceased partner. And, back in the real world, gay people now have the right to marry in the UK but don’t expect that to happen in your local Roman Catholic Church, orthodox Jewish Synagogue or Mosque any time soon. Some churches have allowed same sex couples to marry though. The attitude of the general public ranges from indifference to why ever not? There have been a few people speaking out against this but they are in the minority. If people disagree they have the sense and decorum to keep their thoughts to themselves mostly.
‘Cucumber, Banana, Tofu’ has been fun to watch mostly. Though there was a murder scene that shocked us to say the least. The series comes in three parts. ‘Cucumber’ was the main part of the story focussing on the relationships of Henry, Freddie and Dean and was on Channel 4. ‘Banana’ took one of the lesser characters from ‘Cucumber’ and developed their story on E4. And ‘Tofu’ was a drama/documentary thread that focussed on the themes of the main story. That had to be accessed on the Internet.
This building, Dale House, was the site of Freddie and Dean’s wonderful loft apartment in the N4. The actual building is on Dale Street in the real N4. As you can see, it’s not been done up yet which was a boon for this programme who could use it and a surprise to the rest of us who thought every half decent industrial building in the city has already been converted and was full of hipsters enjoying their wonderful lives. I’m pretty sure someone will do something about it soon.
Across the street from it are these two grand Victorian, cotton warehouses that have a already been converted. They are typical of the type of building that was put up in Victorian times. The back of the building is simple and brick while the fronts have these ornate facades to impress people visiting. They are also covered in highly glazed tiles which stood a chance of staying clean in the polluted air of Victorian, industrial Manchester. The rain, for which the city is famous, would wash off the worst of the soot.
Under these tarpaulins just down Dale Street from the ‘Cucumber, Banana, Tofu’ building is a similar brick built warehouse (no where near as good at shedding soot) which is in the middle of being converted into spacious lofts for affluent hipsters. The population of Manchester is soaring as new businesses set up and attract new people to live in the city. We have a massive shortage of places to live at the moment and it’s having an effect on house prices in the city. People are talking about the ‘Manchester Bubble’ an explosion in house prices similar to what has happened in London. Great if you have a house already but bad if you are trying to buy.
I love the old fire escapes on these buildings. They have to be kept. They may not be used as a fire escape in the event of a real fire any more but they are part of the city’s heritage and need to be kept. And these fire escapes have given the N4 a certain atmosphere similar to New York and this has attracted movie makers to the area. The recent movie ‘Captain America’ was partially filmed here on Dale Street using these very buildings as a backdrop.
Round the corner, on Newton Street, another brick built, Victorian warehouse is also being converted into apartments.