Let’s just get this bit out of the way – I am not an urban explorer. I won’t lie, I’ll be the first to leave at any sign of mild peril. The fear of crawling through tiny spaces and stepping on barely there, three story high floor boards does not appeal to me at all. I do however love perving on urban exploring websites and living through these much more adventurous folk, with much fancier cameras. Manchester holds some beautiful empty spaces that have been taken over by its surroundings. Some, like London Road’s Fire Station are subject to passionate petitions to restore iconic and historically important landmarks, some unfortunately have been lost to the elements. Here are a few of my favourite photos taken around some of Manchester’s forgotten spaces.
Barnes Hospital, Cheadle – This hospital, built in 1871-75 in the outskirts of Manchester, was seen as an escape from the smog of the city centre. The hospital however closed in 1999, and quickly became derelict. Its gothic architecture is a local landmark, sitting on a mound overlooking surrounding roads, and has been the backdrop of zombie horror Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue.
St Phillip’s Crypt (St Phillip’s Church, Salford) – This church is still in use, although the crypt has been used as storage for many decades.
Whittingham Asylum (near Preston) – This asylum was in a little world of its own, complete with church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers… The hospital was hit with an abuse scandal in the 1960s, exposing stories of terrible neglect, abuse and embezzlement. Due to new drugs and therapies discovered in the 90s, many long stay patients were released into the community and the hospital closed in 1995.
Albert Hall (city centre) – Now a thriving music venue, Albert Hall was built in the early 1900s. It was briefly reopened for MIF13 and now after much renovation is open to the public.
Winstanley Hall, Wigan – This beautiful Grade II listed hall was built in 1560 for the Winstanley family, and stayed within the family until the mid 21st century where the upkeep of the building cost too much. Now owned by Dorbcrest Homes and may be seen with permission prior to visit.
Hulme Hippodrome – I walk past this building all the time, and only recently have I actually found out what it was. This incredible theatre was last used in the 1960s, 60 years after it was built on Preston Street, Hulme. This beautiful building is currently owned by not-for-profit company The Youth Village who aim to sensitively restore the building (with enough funding), opening it for the youth of Hulme.