During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to stay connected with your loved ones, whilst observing the government led social distancing guidelines. We hope Archives+ can help you to do this by publishing our popular memory boxes online which can be used as a starting point in discovering your family history, find out what their childhood was like, look back at the area where they grew up, discover their fondest childhood memories and maybe uncover some hidden gems in your family’s story. 

Whilst children are off school and many adults are at home, why not take this opportunity to find out about those important stories thus ensuring this history is passed on to the next generation which can often get lost or put off for another day as we lead our busy lives. Sharing memories of days gone by can bring families closer together, listening to elderly relatives can be a comfort for families as they gain an insight into their life stories.  

Each week Archives+ will publish a memory box for an area in Manchester, this week our archive collections cover Manchester City Centre and the surrounding area. Below you will find a collection of images from the City Centre, alongside 6 worksheets. The worksheets are set around 6 themes: Industry, Place, Health and Living Conditions, Pastimes, Radical Thinking, Communities. Using the worksheets as prompts to start up a conversation, write down your findings on a piece of paper, or if you prefer type into a tablet or PC. 

In addition to this blog, the online memory box will be published on the Archives+ Facebook page. Dig out your old photos too, these can also be a brilliant resource to trigger fond memories of family times.We encourage you to share your findings on social media, either as comments on our Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ArchivesPlusMemorybox

Instagram manclib_archives

Twitter @archivesplus

Facebook @archivesplus

If you are unable to share your photos and stories online, when the libraries reopen bring copies of your family memories into your local library.  In the coming year we will produce an exhibition in your local library of selected submissions, shared both online and in person.  

Please make sure that if you share any information with us that the person you have spoken to is happy for you to share it with Archives+. When sharing your findings try to avoid sharing too much personal information such as surnames and date of birth as these details can identify your loved ones.


Unlocking Your Sound Archive have produced a blog about conducting oral history interviews with family members. The audio clips included in this online memory box have been kindly supplied by Unlocking Your Sound Archive. 

Manchester Local Image Collection

Archives+ Flickr

NSPCC Staying safe online guide for children.

Age UK Staying safe online guide for older people

Kendal Milnes, Deansgate 1977
Woolworths, Oldham Street, Corner with Piccadilly 1967
Pauldens, Market Street 1966
King Street, Cross Street to Deansgate 1953
Trams on Deansgate 1921
Burtons, Cross Street/Market Street 1962
Marks & Spencer, Market Street/Cross Street 1962
Model of the Arndale Centre, 1966
C&A, Oldham Street 1969
Henry’s Department Store, Market Street 1967
Bus Stop, Market Street 1970 (the grass lawn on the right is where No 1 Deansgate is now situated)
Smithfield Market 1927
UCP (United Cattle Products) Pall Mall, 1967
Journalist Harry Whewell describes his first day at the Guardian offices on Cross Street in 1950.

London Road Station 1945 (now Manchester Piccadilly Station)
Town Hall, Albert Square 1960
Piccadilly Bus Station 1982
Exchanges, Royal Exchange, Market Street, third building, Manchester 1905
Canal Street 1970s (The Gay Village)
Central Station 1968
Manchester Cathedral 1910
Ken Howarth explores artifacts in the old air raid shelters below Victoria Street near Victoria Station and Manchester Cathedral.
Mancunian Way, Views of Booth Street and Downing Street End 1967
Albert Square from the Town Hall 1973
Free Trade Hall, Peter Street 1930 (now a Radisson Hotel)
Victoria Bridge 1859
St Peters Square, during the Commonwealth Games 2002
Manchester Victoria Station 1991
Mr. S recalls the areas he worked in when he was attached to D Division for 10 years; he was then promoted to A Division in the city centre, where he “…enjoyed every minute of it.” When asked what he liked so much about the work he comments that it “varied so…  so much of interest… attract your attention… lively…”

Ancoats, Henry Street (facing west) 1962
Mrs. Fitzgerald describes her childhood home in Deansgate – a 2 up 2 down – and the rent they paid.
Manchester Royal Infirmary Piccadilly 1908
An old man remembers his early life being brought up in a pub on Major Street. Carters got free food and drink in the pub, and Piccadilly Gardens was still home to the hospital.
Ancoats, Oldham Road, shops (Spittal Street), Workmen’s Dwellings 1896
Ancoats, Blossom Street & Loom Street, backs formerly Blossom Court 1900
Buxton Street/London Road 1960
Manchester Royal Infirmary, Oxford Road 1910
Cromford Court/Arndale (housing on rooftop) 1985
Anita Street (Victoria Square can be seen at end of road) 1963
Ancoats, Blossom Street 1962
Aqueduct Street/Ducie Street 1968
Victoria Square Tenements, Oldham Road
Ancoats, Oldham Road, backs of Tenements 1898
Mrs. Fitzgerald shares her family connections to Deansgate; her parents were born there; her grandmother’s memories of the area and her grandfather’s work as a stonemason.

Palace Theatre, Oxford Street, station approach 1939
Mrs. Rawding talks about her father who worked in a theatre on the Broadhead circuit; she describes taking his supper to him and being allowed to watch plays from the box.
The Gaumont Cinema, Oxford Road 1962 (The Picture House next door is now McDonalds)
James Gilligan remembers being pickpocketed in the old Manchester Hippodrome theatre on Oxford Street. The building then became the Gaumont cinema.
Piccadilly Gardens 1940
Mrs. Hanham shares an anecdote about when she heard WWI was over whilst at work; they “downed tools”, went home to change and went to Piccadilly to celebrate!
University Rag Day 1974
Opera House, Quay Street 1963
Manchester Central Library 1934
The Ritz Ballroom, Whitworth Street West 1964
Granada TV Studios, Quay Street 1965
Halle Orchestra and Chorus 1930
John Rylands Library, Deansgate 1971
Albion Street Bridge/Hacienda 1972
City Art Gallery, Mosley Street 1910
Manchester Aquatics Centre, Oxford Road 2002
Mr. Lawlor talks about his childhood close to the University Settlement; including their indoor activities, the museum at Ancoats Hall and a May Day parade.

Gay Unity February 1988. Up to 120 local lesbians and gay men came to NWCLGE meetings in the Town Hall to plan this rally. NWCLGE adopted the ‘Never Going Underground’ symbol for its campaign against Section 28.
Group of Suffragettes including Emmeline Pankhurst (Founder of the Women’s Social and Political Movement) and Emily Wolstenholme.
Pan-African Congress, Chorlton-On-Medlock Town Hall 1945. The congress demanded an end to colonial rule in Africa.
In 1980 Manchester became the world’s first Nuclear Free City.
The Trades Union Congress was founded in Manchester in 1868. Their mission has not changed: “standing up for working women and men, and making sure their voices are heard”.
Richard Cobden Statue, St Anns Square. Cobden was a prominent figure in the Anti-Corn Law League, a campaign to reduce the tax on corn and oats to make food more affordable.
The Peterloo Massacre 1819, St Peters Fields. 60,000 men, women and children demanding political representation and freedom from poverty were attacked by local yeomanry and Hussars, killing 18 and injuring nearly 700. This event was a turning point for democracy in the UK.
Manchester University Oxford Road 1950. Alumni included scientists John Dalton (Atomic Theory), Earnest Rutherford (split the atom), Hans Geiger (the Geiger counter), Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov (discovered Graphene, the world’s strongest and thinnest material).
Alan Turing, statue in Sackville Gardens. He decoded the German Enigma Machine in WW2, and through his work at Manchester University, is known as the father of modern computing.
Liverpool Road Station 1895, the world’s oldest passenger railway station, built in 1830. It is now part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefield.
Humphrey Chetham left instructions in his will to create the Children’s Hospital/ Chethams Hospital library ‘The Wickets’, which was established in 1653. Chethams Library is the oldest public library in the English speaking world.
Ratepayers demonstration 1957
The Friends Meeting House, Mount Street. Built in the early 1830s this was the Quakers main place of worship. The Quakers were active in campaigning for the abolition of slavery.

Church of the Holy Name, Oxford Road 1878
The Holy Name, Douglas Grove 1967
Synagogue, Manchester Reform Synagogue 1866
St Peters Church, St Peters Square 1907
St Ann’s Church from St Ann’s Square 1940
The Italian Community, Whit Friday Walks, Albert Raffo c1890
Albert Hall, Peter Street 1960
Aerial Views, All Saints, Oxford Road 1937. Image shows the church and surrounding area, the Victoria University in top left-hand corner.
The Irish Community, Manchester Town Hall 1988
Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street (East side) 1909
St Mary’s Church, Mulberry Street, 1974. ‘The Hidden Gem’
The Chinese Community: Chinese New Year in China Town, 2010

We hope you have enjoyed looking back at the photographs of Manchester City Centre. More areas will be covered each week and if you would like to see more images, don’t forget to check out the photograph albums on Flickr and the Manchester Local Image Collection .