August 29th, 2010


It was our nineteenth wedding anniversary yesterday- and we thought we'd go eat for old time's sake at the Shalimar in Manchester's Northern Quarter. It is no longer there. We went round a couple of corners and found something similar- but smaller and cheaper- where Ailz got to eat shami kebabs and I got to eat lamb karahi. Then, since we had the afternoon in front of us, I suggested we go visit the Museum of Science and Industry- which is something we've been meaning to do for years. Many of the streets in the inner city were closed to traffic- and we had to wiggle around a bit- and when we arrived at the museum we found the tail end of a procession juddering past. Ailz thought it had to be the Lord Mayor's show, but it was actually Manchester Pride. The half naked blokes rather gave the game away. Later we found out that if we'd been there earlier we'd have seen Sir Ian McKellen- in the flesh- riding a tractor. I'm kicking myself for missing that opportunity.


The Museum of Science and Industry is partly housed in the old Campfield Market (1878). I'm not keen on Victorian architecture- except when it's in iron and glass- and then it takes my breath away. 

The sticky-up thing in the background is the Beetham Tower (2007)- Manchester's tallest building.

In the 18th century it was still possible to see the remains of the Roman fort that gave the area its name. Campfield, Castlefield. The Industrial revolutionaries levelled them and covered them over with railways and warehouses. More recently the archaeologists gave the site a good digging over and found all sorts of interesting stuff- including a fragment of the famous "magic square" which may or may not be early Christian and which looks like this

The Roman name for the town- a military settlement at a meeting of rivers- is Mamucium- Mammary Hill.  Presumably the gently rolling landscape reminded some lonely soldier of the delights of home. The things in this picture that look like sandpits are the reconstructed footings of a set of buildings- a shop and and workshop- in the Roman vicus.

The Museum houses a shed full of planes and cars and early technology- including a working replica of one of Stevenson's steam engines. When the little old puffer is hauling itself backwards and forwards along its track you can actually smell the industrial revolution.