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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.  Take a canal-side walking tour through 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.” Guide Emma Fox 

open: Tue-Sun 10am-4pm

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. Take a tour of the drawing room and hear stories of famous past visitors, including Dickens and Charlotte Brontë.” Blue Badge Guide Kate Dibble

open: Wed/Thu/Sun 11am-4.30pm

Elizabeth Gaskell Blue Plaque

Elizabeth Gaskell Blue Plaque

3. 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.”  Guide Andrew Derbyshire

open: 7 days a week

Inside of Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral

4. MANCHESTER ART GALLERY

“This superb collection includes work by British and European masters. Explore the gallery and discover 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 my favourite, Work by Ford Madox Brown.” Blue Badge Guide Jonathan Schofield

open: Monday 11am–5pm, Tuesday-Sunday 10am–5pm

Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery

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 and see the United Trinity statue of Best, Law and Charlton, who I supported in the 1960s as a soccer-mad teenager.” Guide Pauline Lloyd

open: 9.40am-4.30pm, except match days

Old Trafford, Manchester United Stadium

Old Trafford, Manchester United Stadium

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.  There is a wealth of artefacts on display here illustrating the history of Radical Manchester, including exhibits on the Peterloo Massacre and the Suffragette struggle led by Manchester-born Emmeline Pankhurst.” Guide Suzanne Hindle

open: 10am-5pm

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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. It has show-stopping architecture that makes this a must-see on any visit to the city.” Blue Badge Guide Jean Bailo

open: 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm

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. My favourite statue is of engineer William Fairbairn because the important people in Manchester are practical people who get things done.” Guide Anne Beswick

currently closed for refurbishment

Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall

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.” Guide Peter O’Grady

open: 9.30am-4.30pm, Sat 11am-3pm

Read more in our free Guide Magazine

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