Clearing the way

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Oxford Road and the Mancunian Way. Shops, housing and industrial buildings around Oxford Road were cleared to make way for the future Manchester Polytechnic.

Subsequent to the 1956 White Paper on Technical Education, the government committed itself to building a tranche of new technical colleges. Manchester’s LEA, lacking a centrally located municipal technical college, proposed creating a new Central College of Technology; a substantial site off Oxford Road had been identified in an area once dominated by the cotton mills of the Birley family and the Macintosh Rubber Factory. The Ministry of Education (MoE) was generally supportive of the LEA’s proposal, but the acquisition of the mostly residential site required a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). Home-owners and local small businesses were reluctant to sell, and the subsequent objections resulted in a Public Inquiry. This took place on 30th October, 1958

Hulme sweet Hulme

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Hulme in the 1970s. Dominated by the now demolished Crescents, Hulme’s Victorian ‘slums’ were cleared for a brave new world of high density, deck access housing. Poor build quality and lack of adequate maintenance by Manchester City Council soon led to problems. Large parts of Hulme became home to students and squatters. This cheap (well free really) housing attracted the ‘alternative’ community of the 80s and 90s.

Hulme is now home to the MMU’s new Birley Fields Campus..  a short walk to, and yet a far cry from the bridge made famous by Anton Corbijn’s portrait of Joy Division.

Coming Soon!


Coming soon: Sci-Eng50 – an exhibition celebrating 50 years of sciences at John Dalton.

We would like to welcome you to the Preview of the Sci-Eng50 exhibition, please be sure to book your ticket early to avoid disappointment. 

Opened by Harold Wilson in December 1964, the John Dalton Building heralded the dawning of a new age of UK technology. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this landmark event, Manchester Metropolitan University, together with the Manchester Modernist Society and the North West Film Archive, brings you Sci-Eng50- a public exhibition and programme of walking tours and film shows documenting the transformation from John Dalton College into a new university for the city of Manchester.

The exhibition is organised into three clusters: People, Places and Machines. You will have the chance to see the architectural models of university buildings and original architectural drawings of the John Dalton building showing how the site has grown and developed over the past 50 years. There will be images of staff and students throughout the decades as well as archive magazines and publicity. On display there will also be a range of various scientific machines and artefacts from the site. Don’t miss the original guest book from when the site was opened. Sign your name and share your JD memories next to Harold Wilson’s signature from 50 years ago.

Refreshments will be served during the evening.

The exhibition is open 10am – 4.30pm weekdays between 27th October and 21st November, at the Holden Gallery Cafe Space, Manchester Metropolitan University:  See venue information here.

The walking tour will take place on the 25th October starting from the Chester Street entrance of the John Dalton building, find out more information and get a ticket here.

Richard Brook, of the Manchester Modernist Society, is giving a talk in the Manchester Central Library on the 29th October titled Oxford Road; the promise, the planning and problemsGet information and buy your ticket here.

The film screening of The Inquisitive Giant (1957) and Garbage In / Garbage Out (1969) will take place on the 30th Oct. at Manchester Central Library, find out more information and book your ticket here.

john dalton and the manc way


Opened in 1967 by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the Mancunian Way passes close by the John Dalton Building. You can catch a glimpse of JD here at about 42 seconds into the clip.

Reputed to be the UK’s shortest motorway, the Mancunian Way was awarded the Concrete Society Award in 1968 and it has a lovely concrete plaque to prove it.

Harold Wilson’s plaque however, is not doing too well…

manc way plaque 2014