Discover more from The Mill
Buyers getting 'plenty of property for their money' in Tameside
Plus the rest of your weekly briefing
Dear Millers — we hope you enjoyed the sunshine today. Welcome to this week’s briefing.
On Saturday we published a story about what life is like inside Briar Hill Court, one of Salford’s most infamous tower blocks. We sent our reporter Jack Dulhanty there over the course of a week to hear residents’ stories. You can read that piece here.
Thanks very much for your tweets and email about our win at the Regional Press Awards last week. We particularly loved this message from longtime Miller Lucy Ward.
This week’s weather 🌦
Our forecast comes from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says: “Tomorrow should be sunny and warm once early mist clears. It looks like the weather will become more unsettled from Wednesday. Models seem to be shifting to a less windy scenario, compared to what was showing a few days ago. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary for late September.”
Tuesday🌥 Cloudy to start with a little drizzle locally. The sun will gradually burn off some of the clouds and it turns quite warm. Highs of 19°C.
Wednesday🌦 Dry and humid to start, with sunny spells at times. Cloud will gradually increase from the north west, ahead of some patchy rain which will arrive late in the day. Highs of 19°C.
Thursday 🌦 Windy weather will dominate. Gusts in excess of 30mph are likely at times. Plenty of sunshine but expect a few blustery showers as well. Highs of 15°C.
Friday 🌦 Less windy, but still quite cool and very breezy with blustery showers at times. Highs of 16°C.
Weekend ⛅ Remaining mixed, although temperatures will recover a little.
For the full forecast, please visit Manchester Weather.
The big story: Work from home in Tameside
The top line: We’ve become used to the newspapers talking about their readers moving to the North for cheaper housing and a better quality of life, but those stories are normally about Manchester or Leeds. This weekend, we were surprised to see a feature recommending a few locations in… Tameside.
The Times published a feature about the “best places for first-time buyers who can work from home.” It said:
If they head east out of Manchester, first-time buyers can get plenty of property for their money. Top spots include Stalybridge, with its fine Victorian architecture, and for those seeking the quiet life there’s the village of Mossley, which has stunning views across the Pennines. Ashton-under-Lyne has the shops, including an Ikea, while Haughton Dale in Denton is the area’s largest nature reserve.
The numbers: The average property price in Tameside is £186,800. Here are a few unscientifically chosen prices in the borough compared to properties for a similar price in more traditionally sought after parts of Greater Manchester.
Benefits: In addition to being relatively cheap, The Times points out other benefits of living in Tameside:
Innovative broadband provider Fibre Tameside means the borough is one of the best areas in the country for fibre connectivity.
The fastest train from Ashton-under-Lyne to Manchester Victoria takes 10 minutes, and from Stalybridge it’s 14 minutes.
The context: As we reported earlier this year (‘Manchester's new arrivals: remote workers from London’) the pandemic has shifted working trends and given some people — particularly those in professional jobs with bosses who want to save on office space — greater flexibility about where they can live. That could see some areas benefiting and some areas losing out, as we explored in our members’ piece about the effects of “Zoomshock” (see below).
The local picture: In June, Tameside Council made a £40m bid from the government’s Levelling Up Fund for the redevelopment of Stalybridge and Ashton’s town centres. “We need game-changing investment to turn the town around, and this would allow us to do that,” one councillor in Stalybridge told the Tameside Correspondent. The paper reports:
Even without the £20m windfall, plans remain on course to regenerate the town which is a Heritage Action Zone as well as being Tameside’s nominee on Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge.
The catch: While Tameside’s prices will be attractive to many buyers, actually getting your hands on a property there might be easier said than done. In the MEN earlier this year, one first-time buyer from Ashton talked about the serious difficulty she was having. She said: "I'm told even though the agents prefer people to view the houses, just to secure themselves people are making crazy offers without even viewing the houses, so first time buyers don't even get a chance.”
Miller and restaurant guru Thom Hetherington is also a fan. He tweeted this weekend:
I've been banging on about the potential of Tameside generally, and Stalybridge specifically, for years. Proper communities, good transport, it's affordable, with the Peak District on your doorstep.
🕵️♂️ Grist to The Mill: If you want to tell us about a story or pass us some information, please email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.
Home of the Week
This Tudor-style 4-bedroom house in Eccles has a generous garden and large rooms. It’s on the market for £680,000.
Other local news in brief
The world’s first “variant-proof” Covid vaccine trial started in Manchester today. Andrew Clarke, 63, and wife Helen, 64, from Bolton were the first to receive the mRNA vaccine, The Telegraph reports. The phase-one trial was launched by US pharmaceutical company Gritstone in collaboration with The University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. Read more.
New police commanders have been appointed in every borough in Greater Manchester, a move that has been called the “most ambitious senior recruitment process in GMP history,” the MEN reports. It’s part of Chief Constable Stephen Watson’s drive to “improve local leadership.” Read more.
A Bolton GP has been suspended for three months. Dr Shaista Hanif was alleged to have “carried out an improper relationship” with a patient at Shanti Medical Centre between 2012 and 2016. The surgery had previously gone into special measures and was ordered to pay out a total of “nearly £150,000 after firing three of its reception staff for whistleblowing.” Read more.
Photo of the week
Mind the gap! 14-year-old Malcolm Parry (right) and friends in Gorton, 1969, learning how to walk on stilts. Photo: Mirrorpix via Getty Images.
Our favourite reads
In at the deep end — The Observer
This article explores the battle over England’s blue spaces and the growing popularity of wild swimming. Campaigners are fighting for their right to access inland waters, but they are up against concerns over safety. One opponent of wild swimming, Manchester-based Mark Seymour, who is a catchment manager for water services company United Utilities said: “‘These open-water swimmers could indirectly be the cause of another drowning tragedy.’”
Manchester demolished — Manchester Confidential
Jonathan Schofield looks at how Manchester’s historic streets and houses have been levelled under slum clearances and developers’ plans to reimagine the city. He writes that it was: “Driven by a kind of post-World War II self-hatred, the city of the first modern industrial society, scarred by the energy of those years, looked in the mirror and reeled back in horror. Better to wipe all that away, get rid of the old stuff, with its dodgy politics and Imperialism. Make a fresh start.”
The war on coffee — The New Yorker
This article, about the interplay between coffee and modern capitalism, touches on the story of James Hill, an Ancoats-born coffee producer who owned a coffee plantation in El Salvador. "Originally from Manchester, the birthplace of the British industrial revolution, Hill, in the nineteen-twenties, imposed a program of modern serfdom on the indigenous Salvadoran people."
The Manchester exhibition — The Atlantic
We enjoyed this firsthand account of the extraordinary Art Treasures of Great Britain exhibition in 1857. What emerges is a city at odds with nature and beauty. "Manchester is built and is worked for profit, not for pleasure; beauty is driven away from her as a thing at variance with practical life; and even the sky above her and the fields around her yield only at rare moments and for short seasons those precious and gracious shows of beauty which are the free and blessed gift of love to all the world."
The tricks being played on you by UK roads — BBC Future
There are hidden messages embedded in UK roads: different textures in concrete that nudge us to wait, slow down, or turn a different way. One particular “message system” in Manchester, can be found in the “lozenge-shaped blisters” which indicate the edge of a Metrolink platform. The article asks: “We have all this information we have put into the roadways to communicate with human drivers, but how do you communicate that with machines, as they start to take control of cars?”
Our To Do list
📚 Books | Don’t miss out on the last week of the Chorlton Book Festival, which is running until Saturday. This evening you can watch Flapjack Press at the Edge Theatre for some performance poetry. “Faint in surprise at seeing something not on Zoom!”, organisers say. Tickets here.
🍸 Gin | Manchester Gin Festival will be at Manchester Cathedral this weekend, starting on Friday. You’ll have access to over 100 gins. Tickets here.
😆 Comedy | If you’re for a laugh this week, Milnrow Cricket Club in Rochdale is holding a Comedy Night on Friday. More information here.
📷 Photos | Our neighbours, the Royal Exchange Theatre, recently turned 45. We enjoyed these evocative portraits in the Guardian, featuring Maxine Peake, Don Warrington, and Michael Sheen.
🎶 Concert | The Hallé is playing Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 this Thursday and we think it looks wonderful: "Infused with late-Romantic melodies, it was the Hallé, under Richter, who gave the British premiere.” Book here. Go deeper: Read our piece about the return of the Hallé.
💡 Festival | Oldham Library is hosting a free mini-festival of art, poetry, music, and debate, with a screening of environmental justice films. It should be a lively day with lots of debate and things to do for kids. Book here.
Book of the week: The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu
This novel, described as the “delicate negotiation of an identity between two cultures”, is by Manchester writer Okechukwu Nzelu. It’s about a young woman named Nnenna, who wants to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian roots. Her mother Joanie refuses to talk about Nnenna’s father, and “wonders how to love when she has never truly been loved.” It’s a novel filled with questions and often hilarious encounters of everyday Manchester.
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney is available to buy here.
Case rates: Cases are falling locally as well as nationally. The case rate for Greater Manchester is 259.6, down 24.1%, compared to England’s 254.4, down 21.5%. Stockport has the highest infection rate in GM, around the 300-mark. Manchester has the lowest, about 200.
Hospitalisations: The latest hospitals data shows the number of Covid-19 patients in critical care was 60, up very slightly from the previous week. The number of Covid-19 patients in our hospitals minus critical care was 328, up from 325 the previous week.
Vaccinations: 71% of all adults in Greater Manchester have now received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. That’s 93% of over-70s, 86% of 50-69s, and 59% of all 18-49s.
Letters to the editor
Loved the article on Mole Express and the Magic Village. (‘Underground publishing and domestic terrorism in 1970s Manchester’.) We used to get the last bus from Oldham on a Saturday night, hang out at the Village and get the first bus back on Sunday morning mixing with early churchgoers in Piccadilly. Not only could you see some great music but also chat to the musicians. Country Joe and the Fish came down after playing in Manchester and I had a strange conversation with one of them. Millard, Liverpool
I’ve always been fascinated with Briar Hill Court, (‘Life inside Briar Hill Court’) namely because of the lettering on it and found it strange. It’s great to get an insight into what the lives are like for the people living there — I do wonder why Sterling did not want to comment when your journalist approached them. Interesting piece nonetheless, thank you. Emilie, Trafford.