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In search of "Hidden Manchester" for two day visit

I will be meeting a tour to Wales in Manchester in September and will fly in two days before meeting the tour group. Have done some research on things to do on my own before the tour and the following are on the short list: Imperial War Museum North, People's History Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Rylands Library. Seems that Manchester is the city that lots of people "love to hate." Lots of dissing. People go through there, but don't seem to visit there, except for football...not my thing though. I am looking for those interesting, unique, under-the-radar sites that don't get into the tour books, scanty as they are on anything at all. I am a 67 year old woman, traveling alone. For clues as to what I might like, read again what's already on my list. Will pick two things to do/see on one day and two for the second day. Thanks! Ann.

Posted by
1194 posts

You will be very near Stoke-on-Trent, home of English China Factories such as Wedgwood, etc. They have both museums and factory tours. We had a blast. Manchester was one of the Industrial Revolution cities and has several reminders of that such as canals, I believe there are canal boat rides somewhere near. Being the second biggest British city it has up to the minute music and art venues: just check What's on this Week. I like antique and flea markets myself...they must have some there. We stayed in Chester on our way to Wales...you may pass thru on your way. It has a vintage shopping street called the Rows that is very quaint. Hope you get to enjoy Edward's Castles in Wales!

Posted by
2634 posts

I would suggest taking the train to Chester for a day. Chester is a walled city, the black-and-white buildings are beautiful!! Chester Cathedral is so beautiful, well worth a visit. It's a little over an hour and half train ride, if you take the 9:17 train you would get to Chester about 10:40. It would be a great day trip.

Posted by
26074 posts

I went to Manchester. Once.

Chester is lovely. Liverpool isn't far. The beautiful Cheshire scenery is close.

You might have a look at Salford, I found it quite pleasant for a very short visit.

Having loved all the London installations of the Imperial War Museum, I found that the Manchester venue was very much IWM Lite.

Sorry. I wish I could be more positive.

Oh yes, I bought a jacket once at a shopping centre (The Trafford Centre) there once.

Posted by
4888 posts

Manchester has plenty to offer, but admittedly it's not as cute as Chester. The Lowry in Salford has a great selection of the artists work and is close to the IWM. Quarry Bank close to the airport is owned by the National Trust and is a fascinating glimpse into our former textile industry and life for the workers The guides wear period costume etc. Manchester's version of Williamsburg!

There are several walking tours of the city centre. Good for the first day if suffering from jetlag.

The Potteries in Stoke are about an hour from Manchester and would be a full day trip. Stoke is quite spread out and is best covered by car.

Chester is reached by train and is worth a day trip. Personally, I don't care for Liverpool.

Posted by
5703 posts

I've not visited Manchester but I find that by researching blogs about a city can be helpful. Sometimes you find little nuggets of info on places to go, food to eat, etc. Blogs on everything from food to lifestyle tips, from art galleries to film festivals, from choral groups to architecture tours. Here's a link I found ( bit out dated but a good starting point) http://www.wow247.co.uk/2014/11/12/manchester-bloggers-guide/
Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
115 posts

Thank you everyone! (Nigel, you are too much!) I wasn't aware that a National Trust property was that close--Quarry Bank. So glad it was mentioned. I am a member of the American arm of the NT. Dunham Massey is in the area but my research shows it will take a bit of doing to get there on public transit, so I eliminated it, but I'll check on getting to Quarry Bank. I like that sort of site. Also, I agree a walking tour would be fun and good after the flight. I do suffer the first couple of days, sadly. So, thanks Jennifer. I know a site for those walking tours and will research it. Always like to hear live music and maybe I'll luck into something there; will check closer to the date. Thanks for the comment in the IWM, Nigel. I spent a whole day last year at the London one with its FABULOUS WW I exhibit, but apparently the building in Manchester is pretty interesting on its own. Thanks again all! Ann.

Posted by
115 posts

Thank you so much Emma! This is helpful and interesting. Thanks for your advice and recollections. Curry mile sounds great. Ann.

Posted by
1277 posts

Ann, if you are into Victorian literature, Elizabeth Gaskell's home is in Manchester and open to visitors. It's had a recent renovation and has had great reviews.

Posted by
115 posts

Grier, this is perfect. Just the sort of thing I love. Thanks so much. It goes to the top of the list, partly because my very favorite (be still my heart) actor, Tom Hiddleston, played a role in the TV dramatization of Gaskell's "Cranford" early in his acting career, along side Judy Dench. I would love to visit her house -- add the garden, tea room, and bookshop...what could be better?! Ann.

Posted by
1277 posts

Ann, I loved that series too!! Just this week I read an article about Gaskell's house and kept the article for future reference. Gaskell is an interesting character. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Posted by
115 posts

Emma, I just added North and South to my Netflix queue! If it ever was on American TV, it was a channel/service I don't get. (If our Public Television system doesn't aire a British Show I can often find it on Netflix or You Tube. Currently I don't subscribe to any other options.) Thanks so much for mentioning it and Gaskell's other home. I did visit Lacock on my Rick Steves England tour, where Cranford was filmed. Armitage isn't completely unknown to me, but I haven't seen much of his work, maybe due to the second sentence in this email! Ann.

Posted by
1277 posts

Emma, I just read North and South and viewed the BBC series. Loved it!