It’s been a big week for the tram system and Manchester generally with the Second City Crossing opening at long last. It links Victoria Station with the new tram station in St. Peter’s Square and goes through Exchange Square, down Corporation and Cross Streets, into Albert Square and then down Princess Street to join the existing line.

The idea is that it will allow more trams to cross the city and, if there’s a breakdown, find a way round the bottleneck in the city centre. It’s allowed the Airport trams to come right into the city centre as well. Unwary foreign visitors have found themselves pushed off the tram in the middle of nowhere surrounded by building sites and scrap yards at Cornbrook wondering ‘Is this Manchester?’ ‘Where the **** have I come?’ Now they arrive in the impressive station at Deansgate/Castlefield, under the shadow of the Hilton Tower. And if they are not staying there, they are a short tram or taxi ride to their appointed hotel.

The Second City Crossing has been an expensive and lengthy project. If it was just about laying tracks it would have been simple but every underground service, not to mention the inhabitants of the Cross Street Chapel cemetery, has had to be moved so if they need to be got at (not the bodies, they are now at rest in the suburbs in Southern Cemetery), they can be without digging the tramlines up again. Back in the early 20th century, the city built a city wide tram system in less time than it took to build the new section across the city centre.

Heres a little tour. You start at St Peter’s Sqaure where the new tram station is now completely open…

You travel along Princess Street with the Town Hall on your left…

This view, with tram, will probably be all over the city’s tourist information soon. Tram and Town Hall…

Along Cross Street…

And by comparison, a picture of the early 20th century system with a double decker tram on Cross Street leaving Albert Square…

Tram passing the old Lloyd’s Bank building…

Cross Street is now closed, in places, to cars so we can appreciate the beautiful buildings that line it…

Past the Royal Exchange Theatre…

Under the glass sky bridge on Corporation Street that links the Arndale Centre to Selfridges and Marks & Spencer’s…

And finally into Exchange Sqaure for the Arndale, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, URBIS and all the restaurants of the Corn Exchange. From here it turns a corner and into Victoria Station…

« »