Discover more from The Mill
Try Greater Manchester's new 200-mile walking trail (well, bits of it)
Plus: Arty workshops at Manchester Art Gallery and a Home of the Week with planning permission for not one but two extensions
Dear Millers — get your summer wardrobe open because this week is gonna be a scorcher! Today’s weather forecast from our friends at Manchester Weather features tempting descriptions like “Muggy with patchy rain and drizzle” and “spells of heavy rain followed by sunny spells and showers”. It ends, however, with great promise: “No sign of a big change next week, either.” Why do we live here again?
Anyway, welcome to this week’s Mill briefing, where we’ll be taking a look at a new walking route that threads its way through all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. It is opening on a pilot basis this weekend, offering the public an opportunity to suggest improvements.
We also bring you great reads from the Economist and the New York Times about Manchester’s links to slavery and our chances of emulating the urban miracle of Bilbao — plus some excellent recommendations for the week ahead, including Kurdish folk music and a film exploring violence and trauma in Moss Side.
A warm welcome to the 20 new members who joined at the end of last week to read our blockbuster story about Crusader Mill, the high-profile city centre development where some residents have badly fallen out with the “social impact” developer who built their flats. Our story, by a journalist and Crusader Mill resident Luke Hewitt, explored why things have become so tense, and whether it’s true — as the developer Tim Heatley claims — that the problems are all caused by a tiny minority of troublemakers. Click below to read it (and join if you’re not yet a member — this one is members-only).
Soon after we published this piece, we made a correction after being told by a resident at Crusader Mill that the defamation action threatened by Capital & Centric was not directly related to the social media post about a model/influencer who had bought a flat in the building, but instead relates to other social media posts. We regret that error, although just reading the correction probably gives you a taste of how strange this story became. Here’s how Luke ended the piece:
There’s another thing that strikes me about what’s happened at Crusader Mill. Perhaps the irony of this story is that a company that talked so much about wanting to create a real community ended up getting a real community — including all the gossiping, bitching and negativity that real communities tend to have. What I’ve seen around me is community alright — it just wouldn’t make for a very good marketing brochure.
People are still responding to our weekend read about a group of parents protesting the relationship and sex education curriculum at a primary school in south Manchester. The parents’ principal cause for concern was a video of a 7-year-old trans girl, which they felt was not age-appropriate for their children. “Parents should be allowed to know what their children are being taught,” one Mill member responded in the comments. “They should be allowed to sit in if troubled. If the lessons are age appropriate then the school has nothing to fear.” Another replied: “Sometimes kids need to know stuff that their parents won't tell them. I think the video was not age-appropriate (at that age sex Ed only needs to cover the fact that the animal kingdom is made up of male and female) but parents sitting in on lessons? Really bad idea.”
⛈️ This week’s weather
Tuesday ⛈️ A day of bright spells and frequent showers, with a risk of turning thundery. Max 19C.
Wednesday 🌧️ Breezy with spells of heavy rain followed by sunny spells and showers. Max 18C.
Thursday 🌥️ A calmer day with hazy sunny spells and a few showers. Feeling warmer. Max 20C.
Friday 🌧️ Muggy with patchy rain and drizzle. Max 21C.
Weekend 🌦️ Windy and changeable as low pressure dominates. Temperatures in the high teens. No sign of a big change next week, either.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
A rare chance to explore one of Manchester’s most storied buildings
From our sponsor: It once brought in business people and tourists from across the country, many arriving at the grand old Victorian station in high-speed trains from London St Pancras. Nowadays, renowned conference and events venue Manchester Central attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, providing a massive boost to the local economy via events like the Manchester Art Fair. In fact, it’s estimated that for every £1 delegates spend at Manchester Central, £6 gets spent in the city’s restaurants, cafes and shops. On Wednesday you can explore one of Manchester’s most important buildings yourself at a special Open House event. It’s a rare chance to learn more about the venue’s amazing history since its distinctive railway arches were built in 1880, including the times it hosted New Order and The Smiths, enjoy some refreshments and use the pop-up shared workspace. Click here to find out more.
The big story: Greater Manchester’s 200-mile walking route opens to the public
Top line: The Greater Manchester Ringway, a 186-mile walking trail covering all ten of GM’s ten boroughs, will part-open on a pilot basis this weekend. There will be guided walks through five of the trail’s 20 stages, to allow the public to give feedback before the entire route is opened.
Context: The scheme got the go-ahead last October, supported by a £250,000 Heritage Fund grant. Built around existing footpaths, parks and public land, the trail will pass more than 40 heritage buildings, 14 ancient monuments and 13 museums.
The trail is split into four main sections, covering the north, south, east and west of the city region, with each section split into five stages, featuring walks of varying difficulty. Andrew Read, the ringway’s project lead, said:
The trail features a number of natural sites that only locals know about. Many of these offer easy access for all, with step-free routes that allow visitors to take in the surroundings whatever their access needs may be.
The idea of the ringway is to encourage active travel, improve public health and reduce Greater Manchester’s carbon footprint. All 20 stages of the trail are designed to be accessible by public transport.
The stages open for this weekend are all in the city centre and Trafford, around the earlier and final stages of the route, which are lighter and more accessible.
Starting on Saturday with a six-mile stretch from the city centre to Sale Water Park.
Then, an accessible circular walk around Sale Water Park.
On Sunday, there will be walks from Altrincham to Timperley, a one-mile stroll around Longford Park, and a route from Altrincham to Dunham Massey.
Spaces on the pilot walks need to be booked, which you can do here. Participants will also be able to try out the Ringway app, plus a “trail passport” that will allow users to track their own progress.
Bottom line: The pilot will offer an opportunity for Read’s team to make improvements and tweaks to the Ringway ahead of its opening next year: “The Trafford weekend will also help us in our plans to introduce signage, which will help less experienced walkers feel more confident about trying the trail”. See you there.
Your Mill briefing
Greater Manchester’s clean air zone is being delayed again. This time it’s because the retrofit of 1,150 of the region’s buses — designed to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide emission — hasn’t delivered the expected reductions. So the government has paused the rollout of these buses, putting another spanner in the works of the long-suffering CAZ. The scheme has been on hold since last February, initially due to backlash over charging the owners of certain higher-emission vehicles.
Manchester Art Gallery has a new leader: Dr Inbal Livne has been appointed to the slightly confusing role of Senior Creative Lead (not director). She previously worked at the Powell-Cotton Museum in Kent and most recently was a curator in charge of “diversifying collections” at the John Rylands Library. The council-run gallery says it is about to embark on “an ambitious programme of collection review, research, and re-think.” The aim of the review is to “create the conditions for new understandings, ideas, and knowledge that can make a tangible difference to people's lives.”
Diecast, a new “creative neighbourhood” by Piccadilly station, opened over the weekend. Turns out, it’s actually a food hall — another food hall. Earlier this year, we wrote about problems at a similar venue, Escape to Freight Island, where issues with the business model led to the management, in an attempt to tweak it, accidentally telling all the staff they were being let go: Escaping Freight Island: Inside Manchester's latest hospitality meltdown.
Speaking of what’s new in hospitality: The iconic but vacant Stockport Pyramid — the slightly surreal glass landmark by the M60 — may be set to become a restaurant. It’s been confirmed that the building’s owner, Dr Abdullah Alnaeem, is in talks with Royal Nawaab, a chain with Indian restaurants in Manchester and London, about turning the pyramid into a banquet hall. Does Alnaeem’s name ring a bell? You might remember he starred in our recent story The Saudi developer and the burning pub: What happened at Hardy’s Well?
Home of the week
This Marple home has two bedrooms, one bathroom, French doors opening up to pretty views of the countryside and the nearby river and its own private woodland area, with planning permission for up to two extensions. Because who could live with only one! It’s on the market for £475,000.
Our favourite reads
A Top U.K. Newspaper Explores Its Ties to Slavery, and Britain’s — The New York Times
This long read shows how a chance discovery of an “old and fragile little book” in the Derbyshire Record Office revealed that the founder of the Manchester Guardian played a prominent role in the transatlantic slave trade. The book holds the name of enslavers who ran cotton plantations on islands off the coast of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, including John Edward Taylor, founder of the Manchester Guardian. The Cotton Capital project — the Guardian’s project examining its links to slavery — has been met with praise from historians but also criticism from those who say it is covering well-worn ground. Maya Wolfe-Robinson, the project’s editor, said: “We are adding information, we’re adding context. Doesn’t that paint a fuller picture? Doesn’t that mean we can have a richer understanding of our past, and therefore our present?”
Governments are using culture to spur economic regeneration — The Economist
This feature takes a look at the cities betting on culture as a catalyst for regeneration. Does the risk pay off? What about the many cities that have tried it and failed? The Guggenheim, a contemporary art museum which cost $100m and was entirely funded by local government, was built in Bilbao in 1997 and is often credited with attracting millions more visitors and revitalising the city’s economy. In Manchester, Aviva Studios has similar grandiose ambitions: to contribute £1.1bn in “GVA” (gross value added, a measure of output) and create over 1,500 jobs. However, Juan Ignacio Vidarte warns against drawing the wrong conclusions from the success of the Guggenheim Bilbao: it was one component in a much broader programme of regeneration that included investing in transport infrastructure and cleaning up the Nervión river. It is not enough to commission an architect to design “a flamboyant building and think that’s going to be the magic wand to turn everything from dust to diamonds,” Mr Vidarte says. “That’s so naive.”
‘We are at risk of a lost generation’ — The Spectator
We enjoyed this interview with the shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, about growing up in working-class Salford and his ambitions for reforming welfare under a Labour government. “You could say to [mayors] Andy Street or Andy Burnham: ‘Help us with this group of people. You decide which private sector or voluntary sector organisations you should contract with to give people more support’,” he says. Local areas know what the local labour market needs, he argues, and “the idea that everything has to be done from a desk in Whitehall is completely wrong.” The job feels personal to him, he says, because he saw his mum get trapped in a benefits cycle and how getting a decent job changed her life. “A good wage gave her a sense of pride, a sense of dignity and meant she could build the life that she wanted. That’s what I want for everybody else.”
Our to do list
🎨 Manchester Art Gallery is hosting a series of free art workshops which includes a tour of Suzanne Lacy's Uncertain Futures, an exhibition that addresses the issues women in Manchester face as a result of joblessness. Art materials and refreshments are provided throughout the day. Reserve a spot here.
🎭 The Lowry is showing a contemporary ballet adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which locates the star-crossed teen lovers in an unnamed, prison-like space where they are forced to risk everything to be together. Book here.
🎷 As part of Manchester International Festival, The Comet is Coming is performing at Aviva Studios. Best known for their loud, frenzied free jazz, their performance is a specially-commissioned collaboration with visual artist Daisy Dickinson, who adds a nice counterbalance with calming, mesmerising dreamscapes using light installations. Book here.
🎞️ A City Seen / Scratching the Surface explores the violent history and trauma of Moss Side, based on the oral histories of young people and short documentary films they made about their community. It’s showing at HOME at 6pm, followed by a panel discussion with director Neville Thompson about the impact the film has had so far. Book here.
🎸 There’s a night of Turkish and Kurdish folk music from Paula Darwish & Friends at the Carlton Club in Whalley Range. The trio, who are renowned for their catchy rhythms, sing in over six languages. Book here.
🎤 It’s free entry at Matt & Phred’s on Thursday evening, with happy hour between 7pm and 8pm and Slye, a funky indie pop and neo-soul band from Liverpool, performing until late. More here.