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Feature

The most brutal reviews of Greater Manchester’s towns

These are ruthless…

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Bill Boaden / Geograph

While we definitely think Greater Manchester is the greatest place on earth, we can’t help but have a laugh at these terrible reviews of areas of our region.

ILiveHere.co.uk is a website specialising in providing terrible and brutally honest reviews of areas across the country, and each year it releases a list of the top ten worst places to live in the UK – here’s the list for 2021, if you’re interested.

We’ve hand-picked some of the best insults the site has dished out to areas across Greater Manchester – take it all with a pinch of salt and remember it’s just a laugh!

Credit: G-Man

Mossley

In an article titled ‘Mossley, home of ‘Who’s got the most toes competition’ you can imagine what the rest of the review was like.

In a small section that’s without profanities, the review describes the town with a nod to evolution: “Darwin clearly left Mossley out when he wrote origin of species.” Not exactly something you’ll see on a poster board for the town…

Credit: Martin Clark / Saddleworth Church / CC BY-SA 2.0

Saddleworth

The reviews of Saddleworth are all pretty similar in their incredibly derogatory comments.

This one sums it up: “Saddleworthians are easily spotted in a crowd amongst their fellower Oldhamer’s. They’re the ones who have fake accents, no wit and a false sense of superiority. Yes if you like a bit of bullsh*t and self congratulations you’re in for a treat.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Rochdale

Unfortunately, Rochdale has made the site’s top 10 worst places to live in the entire country list two years running.

Most of the reviews see some pretty catty comments about the inhabitants of Rochdale, with one stating: “Majority of the residents disdain this town. The sole act of living here, and even being associated with Rochdale is a disgrace. Not for trivial, but rather major reasons. In fact, the (not so) respectful residents may just happen to be the contributory factor!

“Possessors of low IQ, users of unknown speech codes, devoted to ‘grime’ and overly fond of drugs, in particular marijuana- are few of the admirable traits and practices common among the youth.”

Ouch…

Credit: Keith Williamson

Harpurhey

All I know of this place is to avoid it, and this review seems to agree: “When me mam told me we were moving to Harpurhey in 2002, I was devastated.

“When she showed me the estate we were going to move on to I tried to throw myself under the 52 bus. Unfortunately it never turned up on time, I don’t think it ever has since. Here lies the problems with Harpurhey.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Bolton

One of my few experiences of Bolton involves venturing to a nightclub called J2. I got attacked by a girl for looking at her in a takeaway, after being served triangle shapes of buttered toast in J2 a few hours earlier. Great times.

This reviewer really isn’t a fan of the place either: “Superficially at first the greenery, rivers Croal and Irwell seem appealing… unfortunately, soon you have a suspicion that all is not as it appears-in fact the whole place gives the impression of nature reclaiming post-holocaust man-made destruction, the greenery taking from direct sight the utter ruination wrought by hundreds of years of poisoning the land, and utter despoliation of the environment.

“The place has a sort of chemical stink…a miasma…even on the freshest of days.”

Credit: Eugene Regis / Flickr

Salford

Salford has come a long way in recent years so I’m going to guess this review was left a while back, probably by someone from Walkden: “Charles Darwin would have had a field day here, as Salford not merely proves the theory of evolution but actually allows a casual observer to witness the process in reverse.”

Credit: Andrew Stopford / Flickr

Stockport

This one really paints a picture of the home town of Blossoms, maybe it was left before the Plaza had a revamp: “The average Stopfordian seems to roll out of his bed around eleven, take a 192 – or better still a deathtrap Corsa with a stolen stereo more powerful than it’s engine – down to sign on and then simply hangs around in the town.

“They aren’t even entertaining like the drunks in Manchester they’re just, well… ****!”

Credit: Rept0n1x

Bury

I’ve never ventured to Bury so I can’t vouch for how true this one might be: “Bury has its own perfume – Eau de Weed which is particularly noticeable between the Spotted Cow and the Old Crow on Bell Lane.”

Credit: Parrot of Doom

Stretford

Widely recognised as the next victim of gentrification, here’s a cracking and detailed review of the south Manchester suburb: “The local park is full of teenagers who have broken the children’s climbing frames. These teens are usually swearing their heads of pissed off white ace and that’s just on a Monday afternoon.

“The local council then put a murder tape round it for nearly two years. The people who cant escape have taken to impaling themselves just to end it all.”

What you waiting for, get on the property ladder here and cash in?!

Credit: Gerald England / 28-32 Wallgate, Wigan / CC BY-SA 2.0

Wigan

Honestly, I’ve only ever been to Wigan once and I went to Spoons, so my view of it wasn’t too dissimilar to this review: “The hub of the pissed-up activity at the weekend is King Street, a place where (to nobody’s surprise) there seems to be a murder once every couple of years.

“The road is closed to traffic every Friday and Saturday night, giving the drunken oafs the freedom to lurch around trying to find the taxis that aren’t allowed to drive down that road, or the takeaways that apparently aren’t allowed to serve anything that won’t make you ill for a couple of days.”

Credit: Rept0n1x

Droylsden

This is my hometown so I can say what I want about this shithole. Enjoy this considerably kind review: “Let us begin with the very heart of Droylsden – the precinct. Dominated by the vast grey concrete tumour that is the Concord Suite.

“A building so hideous that to gaze upon it leaves a stain on the scorched retinas of the observer. Imagine if you will, a building so hideous it makes the newly built Tameside Council Pension offices look like Cologne Cathedral.”

The square has got a little better since the Silly Country opened, still…

Credit: Rept0n1x

Wythenshawe

This one makes you do that deep breath in you do through your teeth when someone says something a bit risque: “It actually has some decent shops here to be honest, well catered for the masses of ball bags, moaning about paying 5p for a JD bag they’ll use for the rest of their lives until the black paint has come off and it looks like a dandruff encrusted version of it’s former self, sleeveless bubble coats to match.”

So there you have it some of the most brutal and degrading reviews of Greater Manchester we could find – we still love it though.

You can read more ruthless reviews here. If you’re offended, please please please, don’t let us know in the Facebook comments.

Feature

It’s been 25 years since the IRA bombing and victims are still waiting for justice

Why was no one ever arrested for the attack on our city?

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Robert Wade / Flickr & Manchester Fire / Flickr

Twenty-five years ago on this date, Manchester fell victim to one of the biggest bombs ever exploded in the United Kingdom. 

It was a beautiful, unusually sunny morning in Manchester on June 15th, 1996 – England were about to take on Scotland in Euro ‘96, football fans were swarming the city centre for the next day’s Russia v Germany fixture at nearby Old Trafford, it was the Saturday before Father’s Day, and the Arndale Shopping Centre – built just twenty years prior – was heaving with weekend shoppers. 

However, the festivities of the warm summer’s day were all set to change when a security guard on the other side of the city received an anonymous tip off. 

Sometime after 9:38am, Gary Hall – a security guard at ITV’s Granada Studios – received a phone call from a man with a ‘very calm’ Irish voice, as per The BBC. The anonymous man went on to inform Gary that he had planted a bomb in the city centre and it would be exploding in one hour. Following the phone call, the police were immediately notified and they sprung to action locating the bomb and evacuating 80,000 people from the area. 

However, this proved to be quite the task. At first, people were not keen to go; it was the 1990s and Mancunians had become seasoned to bomb scares. One hairdresser allegedly refused to let his clients leave because they still had chemicals in their hair, arguing it would be ‘too dangerous.’ Alternatively, a group of workmen wanted to stay put because they were on weekend rates.

Slowly, though, the severity of the situation began to sink in, and authorities were able to successfully evacuate the centre, with some people screaming and running for their lives. 

Amid the chaos, police spotted a stationary white lorry parked on double yellows outside of Marks & Spencer with wires running from its dashboard. A bomb squad was swiftly dispatched from Liverpool; however, their attempt to dismantle the device using a remote-controlled robot failed.

At precisely 11:17am, the 3,300lb device exploded.

Smoke mushroomed above the city as the explosion shattered glass windows and rained building debris onto the people below. In the aftermath, emergency services scrambled to deal with the injured civilians – around 220 of them, to be precise – and fire crews searched shops and offices for casualties. In the confusion, some fallen shop mannequins were briefly mistaken for bodies while, over at Manchester Royal Infirmary, they were treating dozens of casualties within minutes.

Yet despite the horror and the devastation, not a single person was killed in the explosion.

Nevertheless, Manchester’s city centre lay in ruins, historic landmarks such as Manchester Cathedral and the Royal Exchange Theatre needed what has been estimated to be billions of pounds worth of repairs and renovations and, most gravely, hundreds of people were left with life-changing injuries, both physically and mentally. 

But now, a quarter of a century on from the devastating attack, the people of Manchester are still waiting for justice.

Quite remarkably, an arrest for whoever was responsible for the bomb was never made – it is widely believed that, while both Greater Manchester Police and Special Branch investigations identified the prime suspect, he was never actually arrested because of fears it could derail ongoing peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.

Graham Stringer, who led the council between 1984 and 1996 and who is today MP for the city’s Blackley and Broughton constituency, told The Independent: “I am sure the security services know who did this and I think it got caught up in the peace process.

“It’s appalling. In a democratic society, for someone to blow up the centre of a major city and injure hundreds of people, and then get away with it? It is wrong.”

Stringer, who’s own mother was injured in the explosion, added: “Justice should be seen to be done. If bombers are going to be let off then we should at least know who is being let off and why and what the greater benefit of that is… I do think somebody should have been [prosecuted] even if they never got sent to jail.”

In a 2006 review, GMP said there was no longer any ‘realistic possibility’ of a prosecution. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole said: “The Manchester bomb affected many people which is why the case has remained open and has been kept under constant review. As the 20th anniversary of the incident approaches, it is now the right time for another assessment of the case in order to identify and explore any possible potential investigative opportunities.

“If new information comes to light it would be considered, and I would urge anyone with information relevant to the investigation to get in touch with police.”

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Feature

Celebrating Manchester’s proud history of support for the LGBTQ community

Happy Pride Month, Manchester!

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@manchesterpride & @love.manchester / Instagram

With Canal Street having dominated Greater Manchester’s LGBTQ+ scene for decades, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the monumental role the region has played in the growth and establishment of the community. 

Outside of London, Manchester plays home to the UK’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGB&T) community – but quite predictably, the sparkling lights and rainbow flags of its Gay Village centred down Canal Street have continuously remained at the forefront of the entire movement.

The recognised street found its fame back in 1999, when three and a half million people tuned into Channel 4 to watch Queer as Folk; the series showed Canal Street to have both a vibrant nightlife and an amazing atmosphere, thus making it internationally renown. The area remains an overwhelmingly popular destination today, and continues to be somewhere for LGBTQ+ people to feel safe and express themselves.

But what happened before the explosion of Canal Street?

@manc_wanderer / Instagram

Well, decades prior, Greater Manchester was already setting the wheels in motion for a more inclusive region, and would eventually become the birth place of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality – starting in Manchester as the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC), it initially worked for the removal of laws against gay sex between men.

After this aim was partially achieved in 1967, it changed its name and broadened its scope to include the provision of social facilities for gay men and lesbians. In 1971 it then adopted its present name, and had expanded to setting up local groups in London and elsewhere, as well as continuing to campaign for full equality. At its peak, CHE was the largest LGBT organisation this country has ever seen, with 6,000 members and over 100 local groups spanning across the country.

Just four years on from that in 1975, the LGBT Foundation was established, and today continues to support the needs of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans; each year, the foundation serves over 40,000 people, as well as providing information to over 600,000 individuals online.

As a result, they serve more LGBT people than any other charity of its kind in the UK, according to their website.

@manchesterpride / Instagram

But that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Manchester City Council played an integral role in campaigning against Section 28, a controversial 1988 addition to the Local Government Act 1986 that stated local authorities must not allow the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ or allow the ‘acceptability of homosexuality’ to be taught in schools.

This archaic act prevented teachers from tackling homophobic bullying and permitted them to openly oppose homosexuality in schools. It also assumed that LGBT people were inherently dangerous to children and implied a link between homosexuality and pedophilia.

After Manchester City Council spearheaded the opposition against Section 28, it was eventually repealed by the Labour government in November 2003.

And fast forwarding to today, the region is continuing to make waves in LGBTQ+ communities all across the country.

@manchesterpride / Instagram

Greater Manchester Police recently pledged to serve and protect the region’s LGBTQ+ community, with Assistant chief constable Garry Shewan, the GMP’s lead on hate crime, telling Buzzfeed: “The public now has increased confidence in our ability to deal with these offences.

“We have improved training for officers so they are able to provide better support for victims and risk-assess the potential for repeat victimisation, and our Pride Network has also done a lot of work to raise awareness of homophobic hate crime, particularly during Manchester Pride.”

Annual events like The Sparkle Weekend – two whole days dedicated to the celebration of gender identity – and the Penguin Weekend – an evening showcasing queer authors and writers – are also unique fixtures here in Manchester’s city centre, and just one part of the bigger machine working to make the world a safer, more inclusive place for those who identify as LGBTQ+.

For more information on LGBTQ+ charities, foundations and events in Greater Manchester and how to get involved, visit the LGBT Foundation website here.

Happy Pride Month everyone!

 

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Feature

The famous film and TV scenes that were actually shot around Manchester

Could Manchester be the next Hollywood?

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BBC

It’s no secret that Manchester is growing in popularity among film makers these days, what with the recent rise of Salford’s very own film and TV hub, Media City.

But I bet you had no idea that so many huge TV shows and movies had been filmed here over the years. Here are some of the best ones…

Channel 4

Shameless

Let’s start with an obvious one.

Though the Channel 4 series is famously set in a fictional Manchester council estate, it was actually filmed in a real Manchester council estate – Wenlock Way, in West Gorton. Other filming locations included Miles Platting, where Sheila lived, and The Pie Factory in Salford.

Frank Gallagher’s bleak yet rowdy haunt, The Jockey, was also set at a real-life pub, The Wellington Inn. However, it was knocked down by the council a few years ago, so I’m afraid there’ll be no recreations of some of Shameless’ more barbarian scenes.

Fresh Meat

Another Channel 4 special, Fresh Meat followed the comedic antics of an unlikely group of students who attended the fictional Manchester Medlock University.

In the series, the students were said to live in Rusholme though, in real life, a lot of the scenes were filmed at The Sharp Project. Manchester Metropolitan University’s campus and its student’s union also provided the backdrop for a lot of episodes, as they were at the University of Manchester.

Morbius

Quite surprisingly, the latest Sony movie in the Spider-Man universe had several scenes filmed here in Manchester.

In early 2019, filming began on Sony Pictures’ Morbius – set to be released in 2022 – with location shooting taking place in London. However, the production team then moved to Manchester in late March to make the city’s Northern Quarter their home while they filmed a number of scenes featuring lead actors Jared Leto and Matt Smith.

The Northern Quarter was transformed to resemble New York (because why go to the Big Apple when you can visit the capital of the North instead?) and both Oldham Street and Stevenson Square were cornered off as extras adorned the streets.

Peaky Blinders

Despite being famously Brummie, many scenes from the popular BBC series are actually filmed here in Manchester.

Some of the most prominent filming locations have been the Northern Quarter’s Dale Street, Mangle Street and Back Piccadilly – which can be spotted during some of the most pivotal moments throughout the series. Other locations include the Castlefield Canals – as recently as March 2021, Cillian Murphy, who plays the lead role of Tommy Shelby, was seen filming on a barge on the Bridgewater Canal.

The Stockport Plaza, Rochdale Town Hall and Victoria Baths are other locations where the film crew has been spotted.

Netflix

The Crown

Despite having a somewhat different vibe to Peaky Blinders, the fourth season of Netflix’s royal smash hit, The Crown, also had scenes filmed here in Manchester.

In the episode, Princess Diana – portrayed perfectly by actress Emma Corrin – embarks upon her now-famed solo trip to New York to visit the not-for-profit Henry Street Settlement to meet with homeless mothers and children, as well as an AIDS patient at Harlem Hospital.

Our trusty Northern Quarter was used once again as an alternative to the Big Apple, with Stevenson Square and Dale Street being magically transformed into NYC, all decked out with yellow cabs, Subway entrances and a whole lot of extras wearing outfits reminiscent of Diana’s time.

The Stranger

Netflix’s 2020 crime drama, The Stranger, featured a ton of locations right here in Manchester.

Stockport, Manchester city centre, and Bolton were just a few of the spots used to serve as a fictional area called Cedarfield, Greater Manchester.

Some of the locations used on the series included the city’s St Peter’s Square and Whalley Range, as well as the disused Moor Lane Bus station in Bolton, the Plaza theatre and cinema in Stockport, and the Peel Memorial in Bury.

Meanwhile, indoor scenes were filmed in the suburban district of Didsbury in Manchester, while the animal farm scene was shot at White Peak Alpacas in Mobberley, Cheshire.

@filmtourismus / Twitter

Captain America

Another unexpected one!

Viewers can spot a glimpse of Dale Street, Finlay’s Warehouse and Tariff & Dale early on in the 2010 Marvel blockbuster, Captain America. The film is one of the early instalments in the huge Disney franchise, following Steve Rogers – played by Chris Evans – as he becomes the Captain America fans know and love today.

It marked the first time Marvel Productions had filmed outside of the US, with producers picking the Northern Quarter to recreate the Big Apple in the 1940s because of its towering buildings and pre-war architecture.

Skins

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the grungy teen drama series, Skins

The E4 show took the UK by storm during its six seasons on air, so much so, that an additional seventh season was commissioned, which followed three of the most popular characters from the previous seasons.

Skins Redux revisited Jack O’Connell’s Cook and were shot here in Manchester, with filming locations in the Arndale shopping centre, Dale Street in the Northern Quarter, and alleyways in Salford.

The Darkest Hour

Manchester Town Hall and the John Rylands Library could both be seen doubled as the WWII-era Houses of Parliament in the 2019 Winston Churchill biopic, The Darkest Hour.

The Working Title Films production team chose the two staple Manchester locations to film key scenes in the film, recreating the Houses of Parliament in 1940.

The locations offered the perfect period back drop, and with permissions secured and with Manchester’s long established film friendly approach to film & TV production, it ensured the crew had a hugely positive experience of filming in the city.

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