and the remains of something older and medieval nestle warily between the stones of something later
and the mock-up of the entrance to a Roman fort lines up with the shimmering walls of the Hilton tower
a beautiful girl poses for the camera, and draws my eye
almost as much as the mirrored Urbis centre; its walls apparently transparent but really reflecting the skies, while a camera keeps a watchful eye on assembled goths and other city-dwellers.
That is the world above but underneath it all there is this:
a disused workshop, a mine-shaft, a cemetery and whole streets. Abandoned canal junctions connect the functioning waterways
and culverts, and there are drains, coal mines, sewers, cathedral-sized spaces for telephone exchanges, cold-war shelters, secret hideaways for priests in times of persecution, half-finished and never used reservoirs, and mysterious brick-lined tunnels with elaborate arches large enough for a horse and cart...
For instance, the Manchester City News in 1911 described the discovery of a large tunnel that, according to one old man, was part of a network, and was then thought to be 200-300 years old. It is intriguing to think that the centre of the city is riddled with such passageways connecting cathedral to river, and even, in the middle of the eighteenth century allowed the escape of a man wanted for murder. He was trailed to a house on Cumberland Street, and was seen to enter it, but never to have left it, but had evidently made his escape underground arriving at a point 'beyond the ken' of his pursuers.
I discovered all this in Underground Manchester by Keith Warrender, a book I bought at the Urbis Centre after seeing a photographic exhibition there by Andrew Brooks called Hidden Manchester.
The photographs are remarkable and just the sort of thing I love - tunnels leading somewhere, lit by some unknown but promising source; and views of the city at night from the cathedral - the lights focused at some burning focal point. They are enhanced and skilfully composed, sometimes with a cubist manipulation of image so that the roof of a bell-tower is seen on the same continuous plane as the walls and floor. I now have a signed one of my favourite - an underground culvert called Big Humpty. You can see all of the pictures here.