As the lighter nights and warmer weather is finally here, what better way to spend your sunny evenings and weekends exploring some of Manchester’s hidden gems. There are loads of interesting landmarks that are right on your doorstep, and we’re willing to bet you don’t even realise they’re there! As usual, we’ve got you covered and have put together a few options we think you’ll love. If you do visit any of our suggestions be sure to tag our socials in your city snaps.
Previously known as the ‘Eden project of the north’, Pomona Island sits between the Bridgewater Canal and Manchester Ship Canal, and connects to Salford, Trafford, and Manchester. After spending many years as an abandoned space, it’s fascinating to know that the island used to be thought of as a countryside escape from the city, way back in the day, as well as some docklands during the industrial revolution.
Originally called Strawberry Gardens, but soon after renamed as Pomona Gardens – Pomona being the Goddess of Fruit – it’s easy to appreciate that this area was really seen as an idyllic oasis in the centre of a city. With thriving plant and wildlife, Pomona Island also hosted leisure activities for the public, with their very own shooting gallery, maze, and bowling green, as well as the Royal Pomona Palace at its heart. Of which, 100,000 people are said to have visited within its first year of being open to the public in 1845.
The Royal Palace and surrounding gardens were unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1887, and since then, it has been left to thrive independently, attracting wildlife and plants naturally over the years. The island currently serves as a relaxed environment to wander and catch up with friends, but hurry – the area will be undergoing redevelopment soon, so visit while you can!
There are many reasons why the NQ is a popular spot for locals and tourists; the gritty warehouses, indie bars nestled into their red brick buildings, and it’s generally cool and hipster vibe. The old buildings and cobbled side alleys have also found themselves lending well as backdrops to some of our favourite tv shows and films over the years, and we’re talking some Hollywood blockbusters! Why not spend a day wandering these sites before returning home to watch their films and tv shows? After all, you can never watch Peaky Blinders too much.
Finlays Warehouse, Tariff Street and Mangle Street were transformed into 1940’s New York for Captain America: The First Avenger, where you can see Chris Evans in all his glory running through in an action-packed scene. This production was the first time Marvel Studios had ever filmed outside of the US, so it’s a pretty juicy claim to fame. Give the film another watch this evening and see if you can spot our Northern Quarter.
Most would assume that the phenomenal Peaky Blinders would be filmed in Birmingham, where the majority of the storylines are set, however, the Northern Quarter has featured heavily throughout all six series of the show. Pay homage to the flat cap wearing gangs by heading down to Mangle Street and Back Piccadilly this weekend, where some of the show’s most heart-breaking and pivotal scenes were shot.
In recent months, crews have returned to Manchester to shoot episodes for series four of the Netflix favourite, The Crown. Graffiti, shop fronts and American posters were littered all around Stevenson Square and Dale Street in order to recreate Princess Diana’s solo visit to New York City in the 1980s, right here in the NQ. The transformation of the buildings gave locals and fans a clue to the subject of the episodes ahead of the release, as one of the NQ’s most infamous Victorian buildings was given a sign titled Henry Street Settlement, which was a halfway house that Diana visited in 1989. Those who have watched the show will know that Diana stole the hearts of the US public during this trip and truly solidified her status as the People’s Princess.
Rylands Library, Deansgate
This library can often be overlooked as one of the University of Manchester’s impressive buildings, however, we cannot recommend you pay it a visit enough, it’s stunning! The library originally opened in 1900 and has been named the best example of neo-gothic architecture in Europe numerous times. The University acquired the site in the 1970s and it now houses over 250,000 printed volumes and over a million manuscripts and archival items. It’s also prestigious throughout the city, as it was one of the first buildings to be lit by electricity which was generated on-site. Venture inside to look around the atmospheric and historic reading room, appreciate the spectacular stonework, and ascend the magnificent main staircase to the journals ahead.
St Marys Church, Spinningfields
Considered one of Manchester’s oldest hidden gems, this iconic church has served the people of Manchester since 1794. The sculptor, Mr Lane of Preston, was responsible for the beautifully carved interior, which can still be seen today, and made from Caen stone and marble, it really is a sight to behold. The church prides itself on being a spiritual oasis in the heart of the city for both Catholic and non- Catholic alike, and it's only around the corner from the library so no excuses not to check these local landmarks out.
When it comes to sharing the best spots in Manchester, we think we take the win on this one! We hope there are a couple of spots here that tickle your fancy – there are so many amazing areas and buildings in Manchester, and we’re determined to share them all with you. Happy exploring!