5 Things You Didn’t Know About Portland Street, Manchester

Posted Apr 26, 2018
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5 Reasons To Live on Manchester’s Portland Street

There aren’t many places in Manchester that have so much to offer as Portland Street; arguably the true artery into the city centre, it’s so steeped in history we’re not sure where to begin. So, without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t miss it the next time you visit Manchester.

1. It’s home to Watts Warehouse, once the largest single-occupancy textile warehouse in Manchester

In 1906 there were just over 1,000 warehouses in the whole of Manchester; less than a decade later, the number of warehouses had skyrocketed to 1,819.

Watts Warehouse was the first warehouse to be built on Portland Street in the mid-1800s. Built to impress, the building had five storeys, each decorated in a different ornate style. By the 1870s, however, it was just one of many bustling warehouses in the area.

Inside these shipping, trade and textile warehouses on Portland Street, Basil House amongst them (one of our most luxurious Grade II listed apartment buildings to date), independent traders, manufacturers, wholesalers and others all contributed to Manchester’s growing economy. 

You can find out more about Manchester and its warehouses in this informative guide.

2. A tram service once operated on Portland Street

If you thought Manchester’s Metrolink was a wholly modern invention, think again. Manchester Corporation Tramways operated electric tram services in Manchester between 1901 and 1949, and trams didn’t return to the city again until the Metrolink opened in 1992, over 40 years later. Today, Portland Street’s closest tram stops are Piccadilly Gardens, St. Peter’s Square and Market Street, all of which are just a short walk away.

3. Chinatown is one short step away

Anyone who strolls down Portland St will soon discover Chinatown – its top-rated restaurants are so close, you can almost taste your favourite dishes! Some restaurants even spill out onto Portland Street itself, such as Red Chilli, which serves authentic Chinese food.

The iconic paifang marks the entrance to Manchester's Chinatown - one of the largest in the UK.

Other favourite restaurants on or near Portland St include: Try Thai, LEAF, Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant, 24 Bar and Grill… The options really are endless!

4. Palace Theatre is just around the corner

Fancy a show? Next month (March 2018) you can enjoy Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty performed by Moscow City Ballet, family-friendly musical The Sound of Music, and much more at Manchester’s Palace Theatre.

Originally opened in 1891, it is one of Manchester’s main theatres. The Rolling Stones, Judy Garland and Norman Wisdom have all performed there, and audiences have even included the Queen. You’ll find it on Oxford Street at the Southernmost end of Portland Street, just a minute’s walk from Oxford Road train station (where this magnificent photograph was taken in 1939).

Palace Theatre, 1939, captured from Oxford Road station

If you fancy a bit of stand-up, don’t miss the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club, which shows every Saturday evening until the 14th July. No matter what kind of show you prefer, Palace Theatre has something for every age and taste. Explore its many musicals, dramas and comedy shows here. 

Noteworthy places nearby: Central Library, Oxford Road train station, Manchester Apartments

5. Manchester’s Portland Street survived The Blitz, but only just!

During the Manchester Blitz, which occurred just days before Christmas in 1940, many buildings in and around Portland Street (and across Manchester city centre), were ablaze after a series of German air raids.

Photograph showing firefighters tackling the flames on Portland Street.

On the morning of December 23rd, just a few hours after Manchester Cathedral had taken a direct hit, Dr Garfield William, the then Dean of Manchester, said:

“Manchester will rebuild her city. She will rebuild her shops and warehouses and cinemas […] let us hope she will build thousands of nice little homes for her citizens to dwell in.”

Fortunately, Manchester did rebuild her city. And if there’s one thing we’re proud to say we’ve been a part of, it’s the building of “nice little homes” for Manchester’s young professionals and students.

Luxury Apartments to Rent on Portland St, Manchester

Always dreamt of living in Manchester city centre? One of our most luxurious apartment buildings, Basil House, could be for you! Basil House has a number of luxury 1 and 2 bedroom apartments for rent, and even an on-site coffee shop! Call 0161 228 6633 to find out more about our apartments in Manchester today. Alternatively, email hello@mapartments.co.uk and we’ll be in touch.

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