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June 29, 2021

Fascinating Vintage Snapshots of Manchester in the ‘80s

In the early 1980s, several traditional and local industries were declining and many of them were closed under the radical economic restructuring often known as Thatcherism. “In the decade from 1979, when Mrs Thatcher applied ‘monetarism’,” said one commentator. “94 percent of all job losses occurred north of a line drawn from the Wash to the Severn. Of the manufacturing jobs lost, 70 percent were from the North.” The city, however, was also developed rapidly in the 1980s. On November 5, 1980, Manchester became a nuclear-free city. It was a progressive gesture but largely symbolic.

There were many physical changes in the eighties as well. The city center was contracted and became a shadow of its nineteenth-century self. The abandoned Central Station was converted into the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre (now Manchester Central) in 1982. It was also during this decade that Chinatown came into its own and the Gay Village eventually became reality instead of mere fantasy. The Museum of Science and Industry opened in 1983 and Castlefield was brought back to active life. Then came the opening of The Jewish Museum in 1984 and The Chinese Arts Centre in 1986. In order to renovate former warehouse areas and canal basins, The Central Manchester Development Corporation was created in 1988.

Take a look back at the city in the 1980s through 26 fascinating vintage snapshots from the Visual Resources Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections and Manchester Archives Plus:

Piccadilly Gardens, 1980

Central Station, 1980

Hollings Building, 1980

St Mary's Gate, 1980

View along St Mary's Gate towards Market Street, around 1980

Oxford Street Cinemas, 1982

Rotter's night club, formerly the Gaumont cinema on Oxford Street, 1982

Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, 1983

The Wellington Inn and Sinclair's Oyster Bar in Shambles Square, 1983

Shambles Square, 1983

St Ann's Square, 1984

Tib Street, 1984

Corner of Hilton Street, 1984

Demo, Albert Square, 1984

The Grosvenor Picture Palace building at All Saints, 1985

St Peter's Square Gardens, 1985

Manchester Arndale Centre, 1985

Manchester Arndale Centre, 1985

Manchester Arndale Centre, 1985

Demolition of flats on the HulmeMoss Side border, 1985

Piccadilly Gardens, 1986

Santa on Manchester Town Hall, 1986

Chinatown, 1987

The former Picture House cinema on Oxford Street, 1987

Rotter's night club, formerly the Gaumont cinema on Oxford Street, 1987

Market Street and the Arndale Centre, 1989


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