The Guides Guide to Manchester

1. ASHTON CANAL

Waterways were the arteries of Manchester’s industrial might. This picturesque ten-kilometre stretch is part of the popular 92-lock Cheshire Ring. Join Green Badge Guide Emma Fox for a canal side walking tour though Ancoats –the world’s first ‘industrial suburb’ –past Manchester City’s home at the Etihad Stadium and on to Portland Basin, where you can visit the canal museum and relax at the Bridge View Café. Tue-Sun 10am-4pm tameside.gov.uk

2. ELIZABETH GASKELL’S HOUSE

Elizabeth Gaskell chronicled Manchester life during the Victorian times. The author of Cranford and North and South lived with her minister husband and daughters in Plymouth Grove. This grand neoclassical villa is now beautifully restored. Join Blue Badge Guide Kate Dibble on a tour of the drawing room and hear stories of famous past visitors, including Dickens and Charlotte Brontë. Wed/Thu/Sun 11am-4.30pm elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk

3. MANCHESTER ART GALLERY

This superb collection includes work by British and European masters. Explore the gallery with Blue Badge Guide Jonathan Schofield who will show you exciting modern works by Hepworth, Freud, Hockney and Bacon and classic paintings by Gainsborough, Turner, Constable and Stubbs; plus the crazed but colourful creations of the Pre-Raphaelites, including Jonathan’s favourite, Work by Ford Madox Brown. 10am-5pm manchesterartgallery.org

4. MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL

In 1847 this medieval parish church became the city’s cathedral. Inside is an artistic treasure trove, with wonderful misericords (hinged seats) featuring carved images of comic morality tales – one shows rabbits roasting a human. Former Manchester Bishop John Moorhouse was previously Bishop of Melbourne, spot the kangaroos on his throne. Not the biggest cathedral in England, but one of the most interesting. Discover more cathedral secrets with Green Badge Guide Andrew Derbyshire.  8.30am-6.30pm, Mon/Fri closes 5.30pm manchestercathedral.org

5. MANCHESTER UNITED FC STADIUM, OLD TRAFFORD

The ‘Theatre of Dreams’ is home to a club with the largest fanbase in football. You can take a behind-the-scenes stadium tour, relive the great moments in the museum, eat at the Red Café, shop in the megastore, and reflect at the poignant Munich air crash memorial. Visit the stadium with Green Badge Guide Pauline Lloyd, who will show you United Trinity statue of Best, Law and Charlton, who she supported in the 1960s as a soccer-mad teenager.  9.40am-4.30pm, except match days. manutd.com 

6. PEOPLE’S HISTORY MUSEUM

‘There have always been ideas worth fighting for’ is the ethos of this museum. Marvel at beautiful trade union banners, delve into the archive of the Labour Party and wonder at the mind of Tom Paine as you stand by the desk where he wrote Rights of Man. Green Badge Guide Suzanne Hindle will tell you about the wealth of artefacts on display here and bring alive the history of Radical Manchester, including exhibits on the Peterloo Massacre and the Suffragette struggle led by Manchester-born Emmeline Pankhurst. 10am-5pm phm.org.uk

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7. ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE

In the 1970s a theatre was built inside the magnificent setting of the former Victorian Cotton Exchange. Since then, a generation of great actors has worked here, from Albert Finney to Dame Helen Mirren. Attend a theatre workshop, browse the craft shop or simply pop in for a cup of tea, lunch or pre-performance drink. Let Blue Badge Guide Jean Bailo tell you about the show-stopping architecture that makes this a must-see on any visit to the city. 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm royalexchange.co.uk

8. SCULPTURE HALL CAFÉ IN MANCHESTER TOWN HALL

Cool, traditional comfort in a sumptuous Gothic setting. Relax on generous Chesterfield upholstery and enjoy local treats like Lancashire hotpot, Eccles cakes or Vimto, or treat yourself to one of the best afternoon teas in the city. Green Badge Guide Anne Beswick’s favourite statue is of engineer William Fairbairn because, as she explains, the important people in Manchester are practical people who get things done. 9am-4pm, Sat/Sun 10am-4pm thetownhallmcr.co.uk

9. THE PORTICO LIBRARY

Opened in 1806 in what was then Manchester’s most fashionable residential street, this subscription library has attracted membership from the city’s great and good; from Elizabeth Gaskell to Jenni Murray, John Dalton to Eric Cantona. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a superb exhibition space under an inspiring painted glass dome. Find out more with Green Badge Guide Peter O’Grady. 9.30am-4.30pm, Sat 11am-3pm theportico.org.uk

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