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Feature

How the Trafford Centre became one of Manchester’s most iconic landmarks

How it became our favourite place…

Alex Watson

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Seth Whales

The Trafford Centre has been a landmark in Manchester for 22 years now, full of nostalgia for most of us, and the luxury of a ‘big day out’ to the land with fountains and a weird giant indoor ship.

With the recent sad news that the company who own the centre, Intu, has gone into administration, threatening the future of the Trafford Centre, we thought we’d take a look back at how it became the famous domed palace we all know and love.

Let’s kick it off with the initial building work, way back when Trafford Park was a huge industrial estate.

It might shock you to know, but a lot of people were against the idea of a whopping American-style capitalism-eat-your-heart-out mall in their beloved borough of Trafford.

Actually, maybe it won’t come as a shock to you…

The Trafford Centre, Manchester

Anyway, the proposals for the Trafford Centre flitted around for nine years amid concerns regarding traffic and what it would mean to the retail hub in the city centre.

By 1993 the Trafford Centre got the green light and was given full planning permission, but even that recieved a backlash that ended up in the high court. Eventually, in 1995, the House of Lords gave the go-ahead.

Construction took just 27 months and cost a whopping £600 million, and like any bit of building work it was over budget – only by a mere £350 million though.

Right, let’s move onto the design of the thing. It’s unforgettable, what with its giant blue domes that make you wonder whether it’s some sort of holy place of worship.

It’s pretty evident to see the Trafford Centre was designed with opulence in mind, the central dome is claimed to be bigger than St Paul’s Cathedral and cost a whopping £5 million to construct – and serves no real purpose but design.

Trafford centre

The palm trees on Peel Avenue are imported all the way from California, and The Great Hall is even home to the world’s largest chandelier, made from Chinese crystal and weighing a huge five and a half tonnes. That chandelier even has a staircase inside. 

The largest food court in Europe, The Orient, has a colour changing ceiling that you’ll find will be pink at dawn, blue in the afternoon, red and purple at dusk and features twinkling stars at night – just to really trick you into staying in the Trafford Centre all day.

The toilets are even grand, winning ‘Loo of the Year’ – a national award – for 17 years in a row. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Trafford Centre without some (read: a lot) of marble. Imported from across the globe, the Trafford Centre houses 45,000 square metres of marble and granite flooring that in 1996 was worth around £5.8 million.

The marble floors and 3.5 miles of brass found on the handrails and other detailing are cleaned and polished every single night.

intu Trafford Centre

The design was a collaboration between Chapman Taylor, an architectural practice, and Manchester-based Leach Rhodes Walker. In total, 24 architects worked on the project full time, monitoring the construction and interior design. That is after they produced over 3,000 separate shop drawings.

The Trafford Centre was even built equipped with an additional fourth floor during construction to make it ‘future proof’.

The whole building is stuffed full of little nods to important figures and places. The ship in The Orient nods to the Manchester Ship Canal and the industrial revolution, and in the window panes and interior cornices you’ll find the Lancashire Rose.

You’ll also find portraits of the owners along the walls and even the Mercedes that belonged to the mother of the Peel Holdings’ chairman.

FerdyMayne1/Twitter

In the early naughties, there were a lot of rumours that the Trafford Centre was home to thousands of body bags in its basement. Have a see for yourself here – we’ll let you come to your own conclusions about that one!

In 2013, Trafford Centre got its very own Sea Life Centre aquarium, adding to the cinema, Laser Quest, mini-golf, dodgems, bowling alleys and even the adjacent Chill Factore and indoor skydiving centre making it once and for all, a one-stop-shop for everything.

Since 2018, the Trafford Centre’s Barton Square has been getting a multi-million-pound redevelopment. Inside the square is a new dome, constructed of over 1,800 pieces of glass and weighing an impressive 250 tonnes. It also features 22 bees as a tribute to the 22 lives lost in the Manchester Arena Bomb.

There are also 33 detailed Roman murals and around the square are gold-leaf embellished columns, pilasters and the Grecian key cornices.

You’ll also find 43 bronze busts, 120 marble statues and most importantly a brand spanking (and massive) Primark store.

intu Trafford Centre

So what’s next for the place that welcomes over 30 million visitors in a (normal) year?

Well, things look set for a period of uncertainty due to majority shareowner Intu’s file for administration.

Some rumours are suggesting that the Peel Group will buy back it’s ownership of the Trafford Centre. It has been confirmed that TraffordCity and City Gateway developments are still going ahead, which also includes the brand new one of a kind Therme wellbeing spa!

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Feature

The driving habits we think are illegal but are actually myths

You actually can drive in flip flops…

Alex Watson

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Toyota UK/Flickr

From wearing flip flops to honking your horn, which are driving myths and which are actually illegal?!

There’s nothing quite like the freedom of passing your driving test, getting your first car and feeling like you know everything and can go everywhere.  

But some driving myths have stuck with us from even before we took our first lesson, despite what any teacher might say. Like keeping the interior light on while driving – we all still avoid doing it for fear of being pulled over.

Others we all do without second-guessing the fact it could be illegal, like letting your dog have a wee on the motorway!

How many others are there that we’re still too scared to do or should definitely stop doing now?!

A recent survey asked 2,000 UK drivers what they thought was actually the truth or a myth, and it turns out the vast majority of us don’t know legal fact from fiction when it comes to the Highway Code. 

Firstly let’s kick off with leaving the interior light on while driving. While your mum and dad probably shouted at you for turning it on when you lost your football stickers down the side of the seat, it’s not actually even mentioned in the Highway Code. 

46% of people surveyed thought it was though, so you’re not alone if you thought it too! 

Next, footwear. 

Most people – 75% – think it is illegal to drive in flip flops and while it definitely isn’t advised – and could leave you with a hefty fine and nine points on your license – it isn’t actually illegal in itself. 

As long as you can control your car in the correct manner, it’s not illegal. 

The same goes for driving barefoot or in heels. 

But if you have a crash, or you are stopped for driving without due care and attention – also called careless driving – you could be lumped with a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on your license if your footwear is deemed the problem.

There are a lot of other things we all do every day that are actually illegal. Like flashing your lights to give someone way, pulling over to check your phone or map and keeping your engine running or letting your dog out for a wee on the hard shoulder (even if you’re broken down!).

You’re also not allowed to sleep in your car while drunk, move into a bus lane to let an ambulance through or pay on your phone on Apple Pay at a drive-thru.

It’s bad news for those with road rage too, it’s actually illegal to beep your horn at someone angrily.

Despite all that though, the survey showed 95% of us flash our lights to let people through and 79% beep their horn due to anger.

Phil Morgan, head of findandfundmycar.com, which commissioned the survey, said: “Nobody wants to have to pay a hefty fine for something that they didn’t know was going to cost them, so it’s best to know these sooner rather than later.”

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Feature

Explore the abandoned Camelot theme park in these haunting photos

It could be a massive housing estate.

Alex Watson

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@pollyann27 / Instagram

Research shows that nearly £800m of unlocked property potential sits inside the abandoned Camelot theme park site.

Set over 140 acres, research suggests the area that was once Camelot could hold 6,294 properties with an average price of £126,000.

This equates to £793,016,000 of potential property value if a scheme could be arranged. 

However, the building of well over 6,000 properties is a huge scale production, unlikely ever to get approval – but there clearly a lot of potential for the area that just sits abandoned. 

Camelot Theme Park
Adele/Flickr

The research by togethermoney.com into derelict properties includes the Chorley based Camelot theme park in a list of similar abandoned properties all over the world, including Germany, China, Japan and even Namibia. 

The research states: “Inspired by the legend of Camelot, the UK theme park located three miles from Chorley opened its doors in 1983 and operated until November 2012 when due to declining visitor numbers the park closed for good.

“Whilst certain rollercoasters were sold to theme parks around Europe, many of the rides remain abandoned seven years later. ‘Urban explorers’, whilst warned off the site, are regularly found walking the tracks of the decaying rollercoasters, avoiding the 24/7 security that roam the perimeter.

“Several planning applications for housing estates have been submitted and subsequently rejected by Chorley Council, the most recent in March 2018.”

Camelot has been abandoned for years now, collecting dust and looking seriously creepy.

You can explore the park in these haunting photos:

camelot theme park 025
Scrappy nw/Flickr
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR

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Feature

Northern accents are all starting to sound the same, new study finds

This is weird!

Alex Watson

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David Dixon/Geograph

A new study at the University of Manchester shows that all Northern accents are beginning to sound the same.

Linguistics expert Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk and colleagues from the university have suggested that accents from the North of England are beginning to blend into one.

The study set out to uncover whether there was such a thing as ‘General Northern English’, something they have called the general accent spoken by the middle-class folk of the North.

Dr Strycharczuk said: “I often hear statements like ‘I’m from Liverpool / Manchester / Sheffield, but I don’t have the accent’ – however, there is very little systematic evidence that General Northern English really is a coherent variety, so that’s the question we asked ourselves.”

The study examined the accents of people from Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and more with the results struggling to find a difference between the accents, only finding that those from Liverpool and Newcastle have a more distinct accent.

The study also found that much of the traditional dialect isn’t present anymore, but typical characteristics of a general Northern accent are retained such as shortening words like ‘bath’ and ‘glass’.

Dr Strycharczuk added: “It may seem as though local accents are dying out, but we believe we’re actually seeing a new variety becoming established – educated, urban and northern.

“I think its prestige has increased, and people are now less tempted to lose their accent if they’ve been to university or they do a lot of public speaking.”

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