We take a trip around town, looking at the great places in Manchester to love and live your best life.
JUST to the south west of the city centre, bounded on two sides by Liverpool Road and Deansgate, Castlefield scoops up the canal basin, then crosses the A57 to take in the stretch of land between the Bridgewater Canal and Chester Road down to Cornbrook.
Lots. It's where the Romans set up camp and bits of the original excavated foundations of the fort still exist although the wall and arch at one end of the gardens next to the White Lion pub are replica. The first passenger train ended its journey at what is now the Science and Industry Museum and the Bridgewater Canal was the first industrial canal in the world. Before industrialisation the area the area housed the gentry with Hulme Hall, home of Lady Ann Bland (benefactor of St Ann’s Church) and Ordsall Hall across the river.
The expanded canal network brought magnificent warehouses, while the railways brought the four large viaducts which cross cross the basin.
In the early 20th century all was dereliction and decay but by the late 1970s the area’s potential had been identified by the City Council and others like Jim Ramsbottom, who invested and saved gems like Lock Keepers Cottage. It was designated a Conservation Area and in 1983 became Britain’s first Urban Heritage Park. The old Liverpool Road Goods depot, which shut in 1975, was snapped up for a quid to later become MOSI.
Probably the most neighbourly of the City’s neighbourhoods with a very high number of owner occupiers who have lived here for decades and a host of resident’s groups, including the standard bearer, the Castlefield Forum. The warehouses have been converted to both offices and apartments and historically any new build development has been low rise - such as Slate Wharf, 360 and Potato Wharf - to protect the nature of the canal basin.
Investment in the late 1990s, predominantly by Urban Splash, saw further development along the Bridgewater Canal with schemes like Timber Wharf and Box Works to join the landmark St George’s Church conversion. New residential schemes aimed at renters now march along Chester Road to Cornbrook while the canalside is still aimed at owner occupiers: the site of the Excelsior Printing and Bookbinding works, once one of the most prolific publishers in the country, is now Excelsior Works apartments by Mulbury City.
Home to some Manchester legends such as Akbars, the Ox Noble pub, Alberts Shed and Dukes 92 which still boasts the best sun terrace in the city. The Wharf with its open fires and Sunday roasts is the neighbourhood local, hosting all manner of events and clubs, while Banyan Tree serves up a fine breakfast. The original Cask is here – with the added bonus that you can take in a fish supper from the Fish Hut next door to complement your real ale.
While this is definitely not clubbing territory you can see bands at Castlefield Bowl and catch up on sport at Binary Bar or Barça. The revamped Y Club has a pool and the only indoor running track in the city.
What's the commute like?
The canal bank provides the most pleasant commuting route into the city and you can walk right across town without ever venturing onto a main road. In the other direction, you can get out to Stretford, MediaCity or Trafford Park via the canal towpaths. Access is easy to the tram network at either Deansgate-Castlefield or Cornbrook and you can hop on the main rail network at Deansgate ‘The Knott’ Station.
On the market - How much?
New build – £249,950 Excelsior Works Two-bed apartment with communal work-lounge space and private garden next to the canal in a new building designed by Tim Groom for Mulbury City, with interiors by Youth Studio. Launches on 27th February.
Re-sale – £285,000 Potato Wharf This fifth-floor two-bedroom apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and secure parking is one of the largest in this development on the Castlefield canal basin.
New build – from £950 to £1,300 per month The Trilogy Brand-new development built specifically for the rental market by Grainger, with access to a gym, co-working space, communal lounge and courtyard gardens.
Established – £1000 per month St George’s Island Two-bedroom flat in one of four towers built by Dandara adjacent to the canal, each making the most of the staggered views with balconies that run the full width of the apartment.
Castlefield is the neighbourhood to choose if you like a bit of character and don’t want to be surrounded by drunken hen and stag parties. You will, however, have to contend with the summer month tourists enjoying the canal basin.
What to say: “I love the heritage.”
What not to say: “Those bloody geese.”