I have just finished reading Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts Edgelands – Journeys into England’s True Wilderness. As it states on the cover, the wilderness is much closer than you think. Passed through, negotiated, unnamed, unacknowledged: the edgelands – those familiar yet ignored spaces are neither city nor countryside – have become the great wild places on our doorstep. It prompted me to scan some 120 roll film negatives taken in Manchester and around Trafford Park at a time when everything was verging on edgelands. The title for this post is inspired by the first photograph if you can spot the reference and also by the fact they were all taken in the mid-1970s – I would guess 1976.
I am almost disappointed by what has become of Manchester Central – still a functioning railway station when I was a boy, it closed to railway services in 1969 and for a time was used as an undercover car park. The picture included here shows some of the fire damage which closed the interior before the structure was eventually converted into the G-MEX Exhibition Centre. It has since been renamed Manchester Central in recognition of its heritage but that glorious smoke filled cathedral is no more – the dilapidated remains had a more direct association with its past. Sadder still, the Free Trade Hall opposite, once home to the Hallé Orchestra, is now a Radisson Hotel. I attended many an event in that fine building, most memorably, a Simon & Garfunkel concert in 1967 – Manchester ‘seems like a dream to me now’.