Knott Mill is a little known district of the city centre. It’s the area at the top of Deansgate, bounded by Medlock Street, Chester Road and the River Medlock. In Victorian times it was an area of little factories and offices in red brick buildings. It never had the grand cotton palaces along the likes of Whitworth, Princess and Oxford Streets. The little red brick buildings, turned black with industrial soot, lined narrow winding streets and lanes. The area suffered in World War II when the Luftwaffe were trying to hit the railway infrastructure in the area. After the war the little buildings still standing were gradually abandoned as companies moved or went out of business. By the 80s the area was all but forgotten and sliding into terminal decay.

In the 90s, forward looking people began to see the potential of the area as Manchester began to revive. Some of the World War II bomb sites had apartment buildings put up on them. The streets and pavements were renewed and improved and the remaining little red brick buildings were cleaned up and restored. It’s a quiet part of the city centre. It hasn’t been filled with bars and restaurants like the Northern Quarter. But it’s close enough to those in the CastlefieldĀ Basin and along Deansgate Locks to walk to. And the swish bars and restaurants of Spinningfields are just a short walk up Deansgate. A lot of people who want to live in the city centre but want somewhere quiet choose Knott Mill. It’s a mixture of apartments and offices for hi-tech businesses earning lots of money for doing goodness knows what.

I like the area, dominated by the Hilton Tower, with its miss of new build apartments and simple, red brick Victorian offices and workshops. And of course, the massive Owen Street development is just across the river from it. Manchester starhitect, Ian Simpson, designed the Hilton Tower and the Owen Street Towers. He’s designed No1 Spinningfields, No1 Deansgate and the URBIS/National Football Museum. Also he designed the beautiful Deansgate/Castlefield tram station with its gardens. He designed No2 St. Peter’s Square and refurbished Central Library and the Town Hall Extension. He’s designed more towers in Newcastle, Birmingham and London. He loves his glass towers but the entire enterprise is run out of a little, restored red brick building on the River Medlock overlooking the site of the Owen Street Towers.

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