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Remembering Manchester’s iconic Dutch Pancake House and its massive plates

Everyone has a memory or story about this place

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KA_Morrison / Twitter

It’s almost Pancake Day – Tuesday February 16th this year – so it’s only right we look back at the Manchester institution that was the Dutch Pancake House.

Everyone has their own fond memories of this restaurant, and mostly they revolve around the giant-sized pancakes and the massive plates they were served on. 

The iconic pancake place shut its doors in the early 2000s, flipping the frying pan for one last time, and the building itself has since been demolished, replaced instead with 1 St Peter’s Square.

Sitting on the corner of Oxford Street and St Peter’s Square, the Dutch Pancake House was a basement restaurant before the resurgence of hip basement bars was even a dream.

Behind the plastic plant strewn entranceway was a much-missed pancake haven.

Opening back in the early ’70s, the Dutch Pancake House boasted an extravagantly large menu – we’re talking at least 100 pancakes to mull over.  That level of choice makes an indecisive soul like mine shake to its core. 

Once you’d had the first glance over the War and Peace-sized menu you’d quickly find that there was just about every flavour combination under the sun – like the Willy Wonka factory of pancakes. 

There were sweet ones, savoury ones, and some with a tooth-aching mix of both.

At this point in the UK’s pancake history, a savoury pancake was almost unheard of and a mix of both was borderline ridiculous. But not for the Dutch Pancake House, of course. 

By 2003 this place had become a bit of an enigma. You could peer through the windows to a seemingly open restaurant, dribbling onto your shoes thinking about the pancake you were about to demolish, when you’d disappointedly discover the door was locked.

Other times, probably when you were full to bursting, this place was open and jealousy would consume you.

Eventually, it saw its fate of being demolished and a swanky new building was put in its place – home to KPMG and a posh San Carlo Fumo restaurant on the bottom floor.

The people of Manchester will never forget the Dutch Pancake House though…

Neil eating his giant pancake

People have been banging on about their memories of this place on social media since the day Twitter was born, and there is definitely a lot of love for it.

One person even reckons the last time Manchester was awarded a Michelin star (before the recently awarded Mana) was indeed for the Dutch Pancake House.

A second person tweeted back in 2019: “Every Shrove Tuesday, I pause for a moment and remember the truly fantabulous The Dutch Pancake House. If you ever had the privilege of going there, you’ll know how much it is missed”.

This place has even had global recognition over on Yelp too. Two separate Americans offered their reviews of the place and gave it five stars each which is pretty telling, as America has it’s very own style of delicious and quite different pancake. 

What’s your favourite memory of this place? Let us know! 

Feature

The Manchester Canal Pusher: a real serial killer or just an urban myth?

Since 2006, there have been over eighty ‘accidental’ deaths down Manchester’s canals with no suspect ever being apprehended…

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N Chadwick / Geograph & Diamond Geezer / Flickr

For over a decade, rumours of a serial killer lurking down the canals of Manchester have been rife – however, there’s yet to be any evidence of any such killer.

So why is the Manchester Canal Pusher such a famous phenomenon, and is this so-called killer even real?

Let’s start from the beginning…

Rumours of the ‘Canal Pusher’ were born on January 11th, 2015 when the Daily Star Sunday published a two-page article headlined ‘Manchester’s Killer Canals.’ The article cited sixty-one deaths in the canal way, which stretches for over ten miles through central Manchester, since 2006 – though since then, that number is estimated to have grown drastically to eighty-five, though an exact figure for more recent years is unknown.

The paper labeled the mysterious pusher as a ‘serial slayer’ while pointing out that it’s ‘extremely unlikely such an alarming number of bodies is the result of accidents or suicide.’

Daily Star

A number of the alleged victims have since been identified – in 2011, the body of trainee sports teacher Nathan Tomlinson was discovered in the River Irwell two months after he went missing following a Christmas night out. 

According to Nathan’s mum, he had texted her regularly throughout his evening, saying he had been pacing himself on shandies. And, when his body was found, his coat, wallet, phone and passport were all missing, leading his mum to believe there had been foul play and that his death was not an accident. However, thanks to the lack of evidence, the coroner recorded an open verdict in his case.

A year on from that incident, twenty-one year old student David Plunkett was found dead in Manchester Ship Canal in 2012 after attending a music event in Trafford Park. A coroner ruled his death as an accident, though his parents protested otherwise, saying they had heard ‘screaming and howling’ in their last phone call with him.

GMP insisted that they had ‘no evidence’ of foul play and, similarly, a pathologist said there was ‘absolutely no evidence’ that David had been assaulted and that the most likely cause of death was drowning.

Ian Roberts / Wikimedia Commons

Have there been any witnesses?

While any evidence of this so-called murderer is yet to be unearthed and the countless deaths remain either unaccounted for or labeled as tragic accidents or suicides, there is one man who claims to have escaped with his life from one of the infamous canal attacks.

Speaking anonymously to the BBC, a man known under an alias name as ‘Tom’ recalled the moment a mysterious man ‘swung at him’ as he was cycling home along the Bridgewater Canal one evening in April 2018.

He fell into the icy waters of the canal as a result of the push and, when he tried to pull himself out, the man allegedly kicked his hand away. Tom recalled: “I started to think, ‘This is quite serious. It’s pitch black down there. There’s no lights. You look up, someone catches your eye and then in four seconds you’re in dirty water.”

Eventually, Tom was able to haul himself out of the water. However, following the assault, the city’s police and coroner continued to deny that there was any evidence of a serial attacker. Greater Manchester Police said the ‘speculation’ surrounding the deaths has been made without ‘examination of all the facts and evidence.’ The force said it would reinvestigate if ‘new credible evidence comes to light.’

David Dixon / Geograph

And what have the police had to say on the matter?

To this day, the police have continued to insist that the canal pusher doesn’t exist – Pete Marsh, a Detective Superintendent of GMP, pointed to a review the force had conducted into eighty-five waterway deaths and insisted that ‘most have definitive explanations,’ adding that ‘there’s no evidence to support the theory that a serial killer is at large,’ The Mirror reported in 2018.

And, to support the myth theory further, former Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Blockley said in a Channel 4 documentary: “If a serial killer decided to cause their deaths by pushing them into the water, how could that person guarantee they would die?

“In which case survivors would have come forward. Also none of the individuals have marks [on their bodies] which are consistent with a violent attack which one would expect to see. In the three cases I have looked at I don’t feel there’s a serial killer involved.”

Clive Varley / Flickr

If the notorious Pusher doesn’t exist, what on Earth is going on?

It’s probably worth mentioning that a large proportion of Manchester canal deaths are blamed on drugs and alcohol – hundreds of people make their way home along the narrow pathways of the canals after a heavy night out every year, making the likelihood of people tripping up and falling in all too high.

The risk of waterway deaths in Manchester has also risen dramatically over the last few decades during which the city centre has boomed, with more people living and working there than ever before.

And after all these years, the lack of any clear evidence – or even a suspect, for that matter – suggests that the notorious serial killer doesn’t exist at all. Serial killers are known for making mistakes, slipping up, and eventually giving themselves away. This simply hasn’t happened with the so-called Canal Pusher, suggesting that the myth could sadly be a product of grieving families searching for an explanation for their loved ones’ tragic deaths.

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Feature

FORGOTTEN MANCHESTER: The Blackpool Tower is actually from Manchester

I mean, all the best things come from Manchester…

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I hate to break it to you, Blackpudlians, but your iconic Blackpool Tower actually reigns from Manchester.

Well, Newton Heath, to be precise.

Now, this will hurt the feelings of many proud Blackpool residents because let’s face it, the Blackpool Tower – which stands at 518 feet tall, making it the 125th tallest free-standing tower in the world – is easily the most famous monument the town has to offer.

So, why exactly did it come from Manchester?

aboutmanchester.co.uk

Well, the Blackpool Tower Company was actually founded by (brace yourselves) London-based Standard Contract & Debenture Corporation in 1890; they bought an aquarium on Central Promenade with the intention of building a replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Two Lancashire architects, James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, were then put to the task of designing the tower and overseeing the laying of its foundation stone.

Newton Heath-based company Heenan & Froude were then put in charge of supplying the materials and actually putting the tower together – the company began its life as the Newton Heath Iron Works in 1884; a partnership between Mr Hammersley Heenan, an engineer with the East India Railway and the Public Works Department and Richard Hurrell Froude, English engineer, hydrodynamicist and naval architect famous for being the first man to formulate reliable laws for the resistance that water offers to ships.

theblackpooltower.com

Anyway, the company was truly put to the test when they were appointed as structural engineers for the Blackpool Tower construction in 1892, supplying and constructing the main tower, the electric lighting and the steel front pieces for the aquariums in Manchester before transporting it to Blackpool.

It was truly a sight to behold – never before had such an architectural challenge been attempted in the town – when it was built, over 10,000 lightbulbs were used to illuminate the tower (though these have been swapped today with 25,000 eco-friendly LED lights).  2,493 tons of steel and ninety-three tons of cast iron were also used, as were 985 tons of steel and 259 tons of cast iron for the base of the tower.

On the tower’s opening day in 1894, it was the tallest building in Britain at the time and the second tallest in the whole world. Over 3,000 guests were able to enjoy the the first of many lift rides to the top of the tower – an estimated 70,000 more people from not only Blackpool but the whole country swarmed the town to catch a glimpse of the seaside town’s new addition.

At the time of its opening, tourists paid sixpence for admission, sixpence more for a ride in the lifts to the top, and a further sixpence for the circus – ah, those were the days.

@Nathanemmison / Flickr

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing – the tower wasn’t painted properly during its first thirty years and became corroded, leading to council discussions about demolishing it. Thankfully, the tower was never brought down and, instead, the corroded steelwork was replaced and renewed between 1920 and 1924.

Following this new lease of life, Blackpool Tower enjoyed a number of monumental occasions – such as being painted silver in 1977 as part of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, having a giant model of King Kong placed on the side in 1984 and even hosting a cage-suspended wedding in 1985.

Yep, the Blackpool Tower truly has seen it all.

And as for Heenan and Froude? Well, by the end of the the First World War, they had been bought up by a Company in Worcester. Their name continued for some time but, by the mid 1930’s, they were no longer in Manchester.

Since the grand opening all those decades ago, the Blackpool Tower has become a staple part of the famous seaside town, and has enjoyed a rich and eventful history – though let’s always remember that it’s Manc born and Manc made – maybe we should rename it the Manchester Tower?

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Manchester’s response to the Rashford mural being vandalised proves hate will never win here

Manchester has done us proud

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Last night, hundreds of Mancunians gathered at the mural of Marcus Rashford to not only show their support for the footballer and the Black Lives Matter movement, but to demonstrate that here in Manchester, hate will never win.

While Manchester has always been known for its abundance of diversity and warm inclusivity, these last couple of days have really put the city’s spirit to the test – and boy have you all delivered.

It started on Sunday night in the moments following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final. The nation was devastated by the loss – this was England’s first major tournament final since 1966 so, of course, hopes had been high for the squad to finally bring it home.

However, while many fans merely expressed their disappointment, applauded the team for their efforts and turned in for an early night to sleep away the pain of losing to Italy, a small but loud minority began instantly directing vile racist slurs towards the three black footballers who had missed their penalty – Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho. 

The racist onslaught was nothing short of sickening and, ever since, the three footballers have been flooded with messages of support and solidarity from true England fans all across the country.

Countless children also penned heartfelt messages to Rashford – nine-year-old Dexter Rosier told the footballer to not be sad ‘for too long’ because ‘you are such a good person.’ His letter reads: “Last year you inspired me to help people less fortunate. Then last night [Sunday], you inspired me again to always be brave. I’m proud of you, you will always be a hero.”

Another letter penned by eleven-year-old Alfie informed Rashford that he’s proud of him and the rest of squad. He wrote: “Coming second may not sound great but it’s amazing [sic] you and your team mates should be proud of yourselves… you are the first squad to reach a major final in over 55 years.”

Alfie went on to inform Rashford that, while the world has ‘been paused’ for the last eighteen months, he has been the one to ‘keep us going’ and, while many people have waited a long time to see ‘the beautiful game’, Rashford has been ‘the star of the show.’

Perhaps most poignantly though, the Marcus Rashford mural in Withington was also vandalised in the wake of England’s loss, with hateful slurs being scrawled across the stunning artwork. A social media user alerted the rest of Manchester to the vandalism on Monday morning, sharing photos on Twitter and writing: “Someone vandalised Marcus Rashford’s mural last night. Do you know how sick in the head do you have to be to do that? This is a f*****g disgrace.”

The morning after the mural was vandalised, however, Manchester did its thing. 

Withington locals began gradually emerging from their homes and, throughout the day, worked together to cover up the hateful graffiti with their own hand-written messages and notes of love and support. People left flowers, photographs and letters addressed the Rashford, Saka and Sancho by the mural, with other residents even covering the graffiti with black card and hand made love hearts.

On Tuesday morning, Akse, the street artist who’d painted the mural in November last year, returned to his work to remove the vile graffiti completely. 

Yet the handwritten messages and gestures remained, and they continued to grow throughout the day. 

And at 5:30pm, hundreds more people – both Mancunians and those who had travelled from other cities – gathered at the mural to take part in a vigil to stand up against racism. The atmosphere was electric; people from all walks of life had gathered in unity to take a stand against the treatment of not only our footballers, but the people of colour being terrorised right here in our country. 

Nahella Ashraf of Manchester Stand Up To Racism, which organised the demonstration, told the crowd: “Three Black footballers have been viciously racially attacked on social media, but let’s be very honest – are we surprised? When the football team began taking the knee in solidarity, and against racism, they were booed, and what did Boris Johnson say? Not much. What did Priti Patel say? It’s an absolute disgrace.”

Protester Lamin Touray also told the crowd: “We know the powers that be want this to go away, and the attack on Sancho and Rashford and Saka has ignited the anti-racist movement in this country and in this beautifully diverse city… Those players have shown us everything that is good about this country, Black and white united against racism, taking a strong stance.”

At 6pm, the crowd then collectively took the knee – a symbolic action taken by sportsmen to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against systematic racism. As people knelt with their fists raised in the air, Nahella told the crowd:”We’re going to take the knee like the footballers do before every match.

“We’re going to take the knee to remember all those who have lost their lives at the hands of racists. We’re going to take the knee for all those who live with racism day in, day out. We take the knee to show a sign of resistance. Today we’re here, black and white together, standing in solidarity and showing that we will not be defeated, we will not be silenced, we will not be pushed off the street.

“Never apologise for being black and proud.”

Manchester, you’ve done the entire country proud.

Greater Manchester Police continue to appeal for any information on the culprits responsible for vandalising the Marcus Rashford mural in Withington – anyone with information can contact the police on 0161 856 4973, quoting 453 of 12/07/2021.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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