In his epic poem ‘The Wasteland’, T.S. Eliot wrote ‘April is the cruellest month.’ It certainly was this morning. Two weeks ago we were basking in temperatures in the mid 20s in Manchester, this morning I had to scrap ice off my car. And it’s snowing in the northern parts of the city this afternoon. All a few days away from May. The apple trees are in blossom. This weather won’t do the blossom any good and won’t be tempting the pollinating insects out either. I fear for the apple crop in a few months time. They do say it will be warmer by the May Bank Holiday weekend coming up though.

Back to yesterday. I’d taken the tram to Media City for my first meeting. It wasn’t an arduous one so I had time to wander around the Quays and see what was happening. 25 years ago this area of the city around the abandoned Manchester docks (we used to the 4th largest port in the country, 30 miles from the sea) was a wasteland. Today it’s a vibrant community with swish apartments and glass office towers, truly iconic cultural buildings and nice places to chill, drink and eat. It’s the northern home of the BBC who have attracted all manner of hi-tech businesses and highly paid jobs. I love Media City, the security guys glide around the area on segways and there’s always the chance of spotting a famous face around the area. There are plans to double the size of Media City with more office towers, studios, apartments etc… Another panorama of the Erie and Huron Basins on the Quays.

This project is taking shape overlooking the Eire and Huron Basins of the old docks. There will be 4 of these towers, three have been sold out already (we’re very short of accommodation for the growing population of the city; it’s one of the problems of success). They look great in the artist’s render. Each one is as high as Manchester Town Hall. The people who like to keep an eye on such developments in the city got very excited about them when they were announced.

They were less than happy when they started putting the cladding on them and the colour was entirely battleship grey instead of the promised shades of grey and white. Fortunately second panels, in the expected colours are now covering the battleship grey. The first tower is shooting up.

Across the road from the Harbour City tram stop, BUPA are building a purpose built Manchester HQ building. They already have offices at the head of the basin in The Anchorage but are expanding their Manchester base. This is what it will look like.

People are surprised that in a country famous for its National Health Service, we have private health care as well. BUPA is a company providing this. Some people, or maybe their employers, pay into this for immediate treatment. I’m not convinced. I’ve had a little health worry myself recently and it’s been less than a month from consulting my doctor to getting to a point where I’ve been sorted. This including an ultrasound in a NHS hospital that would be the envy of any country in the world. Here’s where they are with the building at the moment.

Not a new project but I’ve always like the three buildings that make up the NV apartment scheme with their curved fa├žades set at an angle to the water.


At the Manchester Ship Canal end of Huron Basin there is this little but exciting looking development. It’s not the iconic Lowry Centre, Manchester’s waterside theatre and art gallery complex; one of the projects that the city gave itself as a present for the Millenium back in 2000. It’s the smaller gold roofed building that Artisan is having built. Artisan is a fashionable restaurant and bar in Spinnigfields, much loved of the famous and wannabe famous of the city. Mr Beckham likes to hang out in it when he hooks up with his buds in the city. This is what it will look like.

This is where they were with it yesterday. In a few months it’ll be full of BBC types and the famous people who have business in the studios.

It’ll have a great view of Media City and the Quays other truly iconic building, the Imperial War Museum North.

I walked through to Trafford Road. This used to be the edge to the Quays but, recently, the developments have jumped the road into the roughty toughty area of Ordsall. Trafford Road connects the end of the M602 to the western suburbs. It’s wide and busy, nasty in the rush hour or if you catch it when people are trying to get to or from Manchester United’s stadium at nearby Old Trafford. I’ve driven along this road, and been stuck on it a lot. There was one famous occasion, Manchester United were playing on a cold night, and a guy who’d been to see the match, opened the door to my car and sat in to get warm. I’d always been told never get into a car with a strange man but wasn’t sure what to do when a strange man gets in your car. We had a chat and he had a warm and then he got out. Weird! My present car locks itself if I forget these days. The people behind the four apartment towers on Erie and Huron Basins are also building this tower on Trafford Road. It seems to be a continuation of the apartment blocks they have already built next door.

So far they have only done the core.

There used to be a multiplex cinema and car park overlooking where the River Irwell empties into the Manchester Ship Canal at the bottom end of Trafford Road. When a newer, plusher multi screen cinema opened next to the Lowry Centre it closed. They are now building six apartment buildings on the site with a bridge linking it, across the canal, to the Manchester United side. The development is being called Clipper’s Quay.

At the moment it’s a sea of green cranes and construction. One of the pictures is reflected in the mirrored glass World Trade Centre buildings across Trafford Road. You might see a little Tom.

Someone has been busy clearing away the bushes and vegetation on the bank of the river under Trafford Road Bridge. This is happening all the way through the industrial area of Trafford Park where a new tram route is being pushed out to the massive Trafford Centre and, eventually, to Salford Reds rugby stadium and the new docks at Port Salford, being built to bring ships back to the city.

 

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