‘Ancoats ... is to Manchester what Manchester is to England’
Morning Chronicle, 21 December 1849
Manchester’s Ancoats area formed the destination of the second al-fresco autumn outing for the society members. Led by Mark Watson, of the Manchester Victorian Society, we enjoyed a two hour Ancoats tour, in the morning, with thirty one participants; the afternoon optional walk drew seven of the thirty one.
In a little over 50 years, from the late 18th century, a rural landscape on the eastern outskirts of Manchester was transformed into the most densely packed industrial landscape in the world. As a pioneer industrial suburb, Ancoats holds a unique place in industrial and social history.
Mark our guide for the trip, met us on the Piccadilly Station, to begin the morning’s exploration. We were first guided outside to a quieter spot, overlooking London Road. Mark gave a synopsis of the station’s history, from steam to electric, from London Road to Piccadilly. We then descended into the lower reaches of the station, the undercroft and the adjacent brick pillared car park. It was while in the latter, in the midst of its brick splendour, that we were ushered off the site by a very keen car park attendant. We had apparently wandered into