The changing face of Manchester
Regeneration in focus
It was 25 years ago last week that the face of Manchester changed completely.
An IRA bomb was detonated on Corporation Street on 15th June 1996. As Det Ch Supt Scally, the head of Counter Terrorism Policing Northwest said, “The bomb… was so large, the city centre architecture physically changed forever.”
The explosion caused damage across 100,000 sq. m of commercial space, taking out the central retail hub for three years. The city was granted aid from the government to recover and rebuild, with the winning bid to redesign the city centre put forward by the consortium EDAW, which included Manchester practice Ian Simpson Architects (now SimpsonHaugh).
Being so involved in the property and real estate sector here in Manchester, we are fascinated by the changes our city has seen since then.
While some parts of the bid were never completed, others were; the creation of pedestrianised areas, the connecting of various parts of the city centre, the transport links, Arndale centre improvements, the Corn Exchange and the Printworks are just some of the successes that have attracted big retail and leisure names to the city centre, along with millions of consumers.
In 1996 we didn’t have Spinningfields. Ancoats and New Islington were a far way from the contemporary residential, professional and commercial hubs they have become. There was no Etihad, the infamous Hulme Crescents were a recent memory. The skyline was very different – Beetham Tower was still 10 years off and the Salford site of MediaCity was still looking pretty industrial.
Because of this, there has always been the myth that the bomb shaped Modern Manchester, but Manchester was already steaming ahead with change.
In 1996, the Trafford Centre and Bridgewater Hall were both about to open and Castlefield’s regeneration had already started. Consent was given to transform Northern Warehouse into an extensive leisure and retail complex and the Northern Quarter was taking shape. The recovery from the bomb simply accelerated change in a significant section of the city centre – a city centre which was already on its way, and has since evolved into a dynamic, world-famous business, tech, sporting and creative hub.
Bridge Insurance Brokers was located in a different part of the city centre in 1996 – we were yet to move into our Charlotte Street head office. In the fifty years we have operated in this city we have seen a great deal of change – and there is more change to come, thanks to the vision, creativity and skill of the developers, architects and building professionals that live and work here, and who we have the privilege of working with.
We continue to be proud to be working with so many industry leading developers and property owners that are shaping the futuristic skylines across Manchester. We’re seeing the reinvention of some long forgotten but aesthetically pleasing old buildings, making sure Manchester represents the bright future of the thriving city, but also remembering and encapsulating the history of its industrial roots.
We look forward to seeing what the next 25 years will bring to this brilliant city.
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