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Hidden tunnels and ghosts: The secrets of Manchester’s iconic The Midland hotel

Have you stayed at this iconic hotel?

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Rept0n1x / Wikimedia & Manchester's Finest Group

As you walk through the streets of Manchester city centre, you’ll be impressed by both its old and new architecture, particularly the historic hotel The Midland.

We visited one of the city’s proudest landmarks to discover the secrets and stories it’s built upon, that make it more than just bricks and mortar.

This magnificent Grade II listed building was designed by architect Charles Trubshaw in an Edwardian Baroque style and opened by the Midland Railway Company in 1903.

Rept0n1x / Wikimedia

It was first used to accommodate wealthy rail travellers using Manchester Central railway station – which was later called the G-Mex but more recently renamed Manchester Central once again – to commute from London.

Visitors would enjoy the hotel’s luxurious features including an ornate Gentleman’s Concert Hall and theatre, a reading room and a billiards room.

But in 1922, the concert hall was converted into more bedrooms, which are the hotel’s modern-day hotel suites.

The Midland archives

In the years gone by, the hotel has welcomed a number of A-list guests including Sir Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti, the Queen Mother and The Beatles. 

But most famously, it’s the place where Charles Rolls met Henry Royce in 1904, which is marked with a blue plaque and a Rolls Royce car positioned on the steps to the hotel. 

Our team went down to explore the many layers that make up this iconic landmark, guided by the hotel’s human resources manager, Alex.

Manchester’s Finest Group

Starting with the foundations of this magnificent historic building, we began our journey in the basement as we made our way through its underground passages including the hotel’s very own moat.

These secret tiled underpasses would have once been used by the rich upper classes, perhaps so as not to mix with the general population or to avoid any attention.

Alex tells of how the basement on the gentlemen’s side of the hotel once housed an underground casino, a barbers and a post office – before it underwent a refurbishment in the ‘80s.

Manchester’s Finest Group

Also in the basement lies the old laundry rooms which are no longer in use. This is where the maids would wash the linen for over 300 rooms with the steam being seen from the pavement above on Lower Mosley Street.

As you can imagine, the hotel has a few ghost stories. As we headed up the stairs and looked over the Octagon bar, we discovered the tales of wandering ghosts along the hotel’s corridors.

The ghostly spirits, though rarely seen, include a barber who has been heard cutting hair in the space that was once the barbershop, a child and the Lady in Grey – who it’s assumed was once a permanent guest in the hotel and now walks the corridors she once called home.

The Midland archives

We then headed up to the rooftop via the grand old staircase and unlocked the doors to step foot above the building.

The roof terrace was once an elaborate Winter Garden where guests could enjoy afternoon tea and admire the views across what Manchester would have once looked like.

However, the smoke and soot from chimneys and fires at the time hampered the views and likely made it unpleasant for guests to breathe. The rooftop gardens closed in 1910.

But these days the skies look much clearer and a view of the city’s skyline from the top of the Midland reminds you just how impressive a city Manchester really is.

Manchester’s Finest Group

This hotel also offers top notch food where guests can indulge in some fine dining at chef Adam Reid’s The French.

If you’re looking for a luxury city break or even just a luxurious self-indulgent staycation, head to The Midland hotel.

You can book yourself a room HERE.

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Free festivals coming to Freight Island for ‘most electrifying season yet’

Get ready for a festival season of great food, drink and music at Freight Island!

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Freight Island

Freight Island is gearing up for an epic free festival series throughout the spring and summer months, which promises to be its ‘most electrifying season yet’.

Back open in full swing on Easter weekend, Freight Island is set to re-open fully on Friday, March 29th featuring world-renowned DJs and the city’s finest talents to present top tier entertainment.

All free to attend, this year’s epic series is set to welcome some of the music scene’s most revered talents such as David Rodigan, Greg Wilson, Norman Jay, Luke Una and his special É Soul Cultura, Crazy P (DJ Set), Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, and many more.

Freight Island

Supporting acts include some of Manchester’s most celebrated DJs and collectives, including the likes of Sit N Bun, Supernature Disco, SK1 Records, Me Gusta Collective, Semi Skimmed Edits, Ghosts of Garage, and more.

In addition to the sensational spring/summer programming, Freight Island also hosts regular events including the famous pop club night Cherrybomb, mass karaoke, creative workshops, and more. 

Continuing to champion independent traders from the North West, Freight Island will see a new addition to this year’s festival season with Liverpool institution Pattersons.

Freight Island

Guests can tuck into the North West spot’s famous mouth-watering fried chicken, which is brined for over 24 hours in Pattersons’ special mix of herbs and spices and dusted in secret recipe flour.

Hungry guests can also expect all of Freight Island’s amazing traders to be back open, including the premium smashed burgers from Burgerism, giant 22” pizza and slices from Voodoo Ray’s, slab shack from Lazy Tony’s Lasagnaria, and Indian and Nepalese street food from Payal.

As well as Greek street food from Mega Gyros, Venezuelan cuisine from Mia’s Arepas, pan-Asian cuisine from Fuku, open fire cooking from Smoking Coal, and cheesecake on a stick from Oh My Cheesecake.

Freight Island

Foodie programme resumes with Seconds carvery every Sunday, featuring quality roast meats and unlimited access to all the trimmings.

To book your FREE tickets for the Freight Island festivals, click HERE.

Freight Island opens for its epic spring/summer festival from Friday March 29th. Opening hours are Thursday from 4pm until 11pm, Friday from 4pm until 12am, Saturday from 12pm until 12am, and Sunday from 12pm until 10pm.

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Chester Zoo letting school children visit for FREE to ‘inspire new generation of conservationists’

More than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs

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Chester Zoo & @chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo is inviting children in education to visit for free as part of its aim to inspire a new generation of conservationists.

Pupils from nurseries, primary, secondary schools, and colleges can take advantage of the free places, which gives them the chance to explore conservation up close at the charity’s 128-acre zoological gardens.

Running since 2017, the zoo’s free ticket scheme has already seen more than 100,000 children and young people experience the wonders the zoo has to offer. This year, more than 35,000 of the free educational visit tickets are up for grabs.

Chester Zoo

This time round, the zoo is also opening the initiative to nurseries, schools and colleges that haven’t benefited from the scheme within the last three years.

Every school participating in the programme will receive a free resource pack to help maximise the educational impact of their zoo visit.

Charlotte Smith, director of conservation education and engagement at Chester Zoo, said: “Every one of us is a custodian of our natural world but it’s the next generation of conservationists – children and young people today – who are fundamentally important to overcoming the environmental and biodiversity challenges our planet is facing.

Chester Zoo

“They are inspiring and they give us hope, which is why we’re so keen to connect them with the awe and wonder of nature and help to nurture their passion and desire to make a difference.

“It’s proven that a visit to the zoo can significantly enhance people’s understanding of the huge efforts that go into conserving highly threatened species, while also bringing physical and mental health benefits, too.

“That’s why we particularly want to reach youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and ensure they are the primary beneficiaries of the initiative – so we can provide them with the skills and know-how to go on and make a real, positive difference to wildlife in their everyday lives.”

@chesterzoo / Instagram

Chester Zoo’s free educational visits are for between November 2024 and February 2025. 

To apply you will need to fill out an application form and submit it online. The deadline is March 22nd.

To apply for a free educational visit to Chester Zoo, click HERE.

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LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon painting to go on public display for first time in 57 years

It will go on display for the first time in 57 years before it goes to auction

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Christie's

LS Lowry’s painting Sunday Afternoon is to go on public display for the first time in 57 years.

The painting, worth more than £4 million will go on display in Christie’s London on March 13th before it goes to auction on March 20th.

Lowry, who was born in Stretford in 1887, painted industrial districts in Greater Manchester and around the North West. He mainly depicted Salford in his works.

Christie’s

Laurence Stephen Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon illustrates a densely populated industrial landscape, which shows what Lowry described as the ‘battle of life’. 

Before his death in 1976 at the age of 88, Lowry produced more than 1,000 artworks.

Auctioneers expect the painting to go for between £4 million and £6 million at the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale on March 20th.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

The artwork was previously sold at the Christies in 1967 for a ‘record price’ and was obtained from the collection of Keith Showering, who was a former chief executive of Europe’s biggest drinks business Allied Breweries.

Phillip Harley, senior director at Christie’s, said: “Sunday Afternoon by LS Lowry will return to the public eye at Christie’s for the first time since it was last seen here 57 years ago.

“This important painting has remained in the collection of Sir Keith and Lady Showering since 1967, offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a work of this magnitude and scale.

Gerald England / Geograph

“The composition represents the wonder the artist felt as he recorded his many observations of the evolving society around him.

“We are thrilled to bring Sunday Afternoon back to auction in the Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale. We look forward to welcoming our clients and visitors alike to view the painting when it goes on free display in London on 13 March.”

LS Lowry’s Sunday Afternoon will go on public display at the Christie’s London from March 13th to 20th.

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