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From pet shops to sex shops: how Manchester’s Northern Quarter has transformed over the years

The best place in Manchester?



Finest Media

This quarter of the city centre has seen it all! 

The Northern Quarter is Manchester’s Indie haven, where you’ll find everything you need and plenty of stuff you don’t need but definitely want. And the best bit is that it’s almost entirely independent! 

In the early 1970s the area that we now know as the Northern Quarter was massively suffering with neglect, impacted greatly by the opening of the massive corporate shopping centre, the Arndale. 

The NQ quickly lost all appeal and viability as the shopping destination it had been prior. The famous pet shops of Tib Street disappeared altogether – apart from just one surviving at the very top of the road that is still open today.

By the late ’70s the area was pretty much derelict and mostly residential thanks to the new housing estate near Smithfield Market. The old warehouses from the Industrial Revolution became the perfect occupancy for large, cheap storage for clothing and textile wholesalers.

Things stayed much the same for a few years until the ’80s saw a little spark ignite with the opening of Affleck’s palace. A one-stop-shop for all things boutique and independent, Affleck’s Palace became a destination with people flocking from all over to get involved at the new local market for artists. 

Around this time creatives began to flood the area again and those large spaces became studios and practice rooms for the likes of musicians and inventors.

A few boozers worked through the night to keep those in the area from going thirsty and hungry with plenty of cheap ales at the likes of The Millstone, Koffee Pot and Mother Macs – as well as This & That providing a much needed Rice & Three.

Manchester City Council commissioned the regeneration of the NQ in 1993, and Urban Splash moved in and set to work on redeveloping the area, turning it into a residential neighbourhood. If people live here, businesses open – or so the theory goes.

It turns out the theory was correct! The ’90s was a big moment for the NQ, cheap rent tempted just about everybody and as people moved in so did the businesses.

The public started to champion independents again and the plan, overall, was a great success.

Not everyone is quite so positive about the progress that happened to the area though.

Gentrification can often be described as the killer of culture and soul of an area, and people who once lived there are priced out. The NQ in particular is now a ‘party hot spot’ where rent has increased by 40%, and more and more plots of land are being sold to big time investors to create luxury flats that will likely become Airbnb’s.

But it’s not all bad, the Northern Quarter is a haven for artwork, there are parrots on the walls, poets on the floors and ever-changing graffiti that even has entire tours dedicated to it.

And there are still independents to shop at, dine in, drink dry and dance on the tables of.

There is no denying that the NQ is still the place to be – Ancoats might have reached worldly heights but the NQ has the Castle, the Millstone, newbies like Federal, Another Heart to Feed and Feel Good Club, shops like Noma, Blue Rinse and plenty more that keep it the bustling spot all the cool kids hang out.

Even as more and more areas see regeneration, the NQ still comes through with that star quality that some areas will just never have.

You can follow NQmanchester for daily updates on going’s on in the area!  

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If you’re having really weird dreams this lockdown here’s why

(Don’t worry, you’re not the only one)



Matthew Henry / Unsplash

If you’re finding yourself having super weird dreams and actually being able to remember them in the morning, don’t panic, you’re not alone.

Tonnes of people across the country have been reporting the exact same thing during lockdown. Luckily a scientist has given us a clever explanation that will calm down all our fears that self-isolation might be getting to us.

There are a lot of contributing factors that stem from being in lockdown that are changing our dream patterns. One of the biggest one is increased stress and anxiety levels due to the uncertainty of the world right now.

Credit: Stephen Oliver / Unsplash

Many, in fact, most people are finding themselves with financial worries and pressures like never before.

Cabin fever is also a huge factor to our unconscious thinking patterns and a lot of people are having dreams of being stuck, whether that formulates as a room with no doors or a shipwreck you’re stuck on – it all comes down to a feeling of being stuck inside. Which is pretty self explanatory.

We’re all also spending more time than ever with the same few people which will be having an effect on your dreams.

Other reasoning comes down to the fact that our homes are physically warmer because we’re all in it, potentially with the heating on. When we’re asleep and warm we have more vivid dreams.

Credit: Kate Stone Matheson / Unsplash

Some people’s dreams might not be that spectacular – finding themselves down the local having a frosty pint of their favourite beer (which does actually sound spectacular tbh) – and that’s completely fine too.

Life has become monotonous, what with ‘going to work’ including rolling out of bed and walking the 10 steps to the dining table. Basically we’re just missing normality and craving the things we would do in an average week.

There’s even a reason as to why we’re all remembering our dreams like they’re a blockbuster movie too.

Credit: Damir Spanic / Unsplash

As we’re all having a little lie-in in the morning, with some of us not even setting an alarm, we can move into that REM sleep.

While we’re in REM sleep our brains are more active, dreams get longer and more vivid. With our alarms not going off, we stay in this type of sleep for longer, dreams extend, get weirder and we can then remember them when we get up.

So whatever your dreams involve, you’re not crazy just isolated!! Keep dreaming kids!

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Who remembers Manchester’s hugely popular Granada Studios Tour?

Ahh the memories…



cantwont & Markus Schroeder/Flickr

It was Manchester’s answer to Universal Studios, but with the Coronation Street set…

After a successful decade-long run of providing fun for Manchester, the demise of the Granada Studio Tour began after visitor numbers dwindled – meaning the tour sadly shut up shop for one last time.

One of the biggest reasons as to why can be put down to poor businesses practises at ITV, which saw the company lose millions.

The main culprit was the Sky-like service called ‘ONDigital’, which launched in 1998 and was forced into administration just four short years later.

Granada Studios Tour, Manchester
davekpcv / Flickr

It was pretty much the exact same concept as Sky, only the exclusive shows were essentially rubbish and the whole thing flopped.

At this point the Granada Studios Tour was seen as a large and unnecessary expense, and unfortunately closed down.

The tour was the brainchild of Granada producer David Plowright, who proposed to create a ‘Hollywood-on-the-Irwell‘ – and that he did. Sort of, anyway.

The tour first opened its doors in 1988, expecting to welcome 250,000 in the first year, but in the initial eight months alone 600,000 people visited to take in the sights.

Arguably the most popular attraction was the Coronation Street set which in 2013 moved to MediaCity, built on an even bigger scale with the chance to go inside too!

In 2018 Victoria Street was added, which features a garden and memorial bench paying tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing 22 victims and Coronation Street super fan Martyn Hett.

The old Granada Studios Tour might not have been the bright lights of LA or Hollywood, but you don’t get much more Mancunian than that cobbled street! 

What are your favourite memories of the tour? 

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The brand new bars and restaurants opening in Manchester after lockdown

Can’t wait for these to open!



southmannyflavaz / Instagram & PopCity/Populous Jump Studios

Here are some of Greater Manchester’s newest businesses to look forward to visiting when things open back up…

southmannyflavaz / Instagram

South Manny Flavaz
Opening their first ever venue on Deansgate, the popular fried chicken shop South Manny Flavas will be offering takeaway until lockdown permits dine-in customers.

The brainchild of Aaron Lee, South Manny Flavas has an already successful site in the Arndale Food Market serving up homemade fried chicken. The restaurant will also have dessert waffles, milkshakes and signature dishes like Manny Cheese Steak.

ramonamcr / Instagram

The new food and drink venue, from Albert’s Schloss founders Adelaide Winter and Joel Wilkinson, is taking shape in the former M.O.T garage opposite Mackie Mayor. There will be Detroit-style pizzas plus a beer garden, margarita bar and coffee counter.

ezraandgil / Instagram

Ezra & Gil
Second Site
Popular Northern Quarter cafe Ezra & Gil is set to open a second site on Peter Street in the former Subway shop. The shop is ready to open as soon as lockdown permits!

foursideveganpizza / Instagram

Four Side Pizza
Taking over the former Earth Cafe site, Four Side pizza will be serving up Detroit-style pizzas, all plant-based, and with no booze on site! Four Side is the brainchild of Dan Hope from Firebird Hope, Krum doughnuts and Plant Grill. Diners can also expect doughnuts too, and a restaurant when lockdown permits!

joe_schofield / Instagram

Schofield’s Bar
A brand new cocktail bar set to open in the city’s historic Sunlight House this spring. From two award-winning bar tenders, Schofield’s Bar will seat around 70 customers inside and a further 60 on the outdoor terrace with a menu of 24 cocktails.

prestwichsocial / Instagram

Prestwich Social
Set to be finished just before lockdown restrictions ease, Prestwich Social is taking over the Orange Tree site.

Founders Doug Waldron and Brett Collier are behind the cafe-bar concept which will see an all-day ‘chameleon’ with coffees, breakfast and brunch in the mornings, cafe-bar in the afternoons and late-night opening hours on weekends.

slicepizzerias / Instagram

Set to back open after almost two years of closure, the Northern Quarter gem is heading to a new location on Oxford Road serving Roman-style pizzas by the slice. Plans also include sandwiches on freshly baked bread and homemade gelato in summer time.

PopCity/Populous Jump Studios

The £1m food hall from founders of Assembly Underground in Leeds is set to open this year spanning 8,073 sq ft.

There will be space for five independently-owned kitchens, a cocktail bar, and a craft beer taproom. Already confirmed on the lineup is Ancoats classic, Elnecot bringing their new concept Dokes Pizzeria.

jimmys / Instagram

Music venue and bar Jimmy’s will be opening in Ancoats just off Cutting Room Square. Plans include a first-floor restaurant similar to the second site in Liverpool.

lattsam_mcr / Instagram

The Scandi-style cafe bar created by the team behind Beatnikz Republic brewery and bar opened briefly in lockdown but closed again due to low footfall. The artisan coffee shop will serve an all-day menu including everything from acai bowls to sandwiches.

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