North West Casual Classics
Length and Breadth of Briton Tour 52 Miles
1972 Triumph Stag
I set out early at daft o’clock for a Sunday morning, 5-55am to be exact. It was a lovely summer morning too, lets face it if it had been raining I would still be tucked up in bed! I stopped outside Worsley Courthouse for my first photo, a local landmark since 1849. It was used as a local court back in the day and is now a well known wedding venue.
It’s great to have the streets to myself as I continue through Winton, Monton, Seedley and Salford into Manchester City centre. Stopping for a moment on Quay Street at the Opera House (1912) where the musical performance of Back to the Future has been rudely interrupted by the ‘Scourge of 2020’ and I am able to stand in the middle of the street for my second photo opportunity.
The Midland Hotel stands proudly on Peter Street and it would be rude of me to pass it by, as it plays it’s part in the motoring history of the United Kingdom. For it was in this very building that Mr. Charles Rolls met Mr. Henry Royce and paved the way to the worlds most luxurious car brand in 1904.
My next stop is in Chepstow Street tucked behind the Grand Bridgewater Hall and a favoured watering hole of many a celebrity. The Peveril of the Peak is a grade 2 listed building, built around 1820. The Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel and many others have crossed its threshold.
Turning back I traverse St Peters Square ( previously St Peters Fields), the area known for the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. The Square is now home to the Central Library and the rear of Manchester Town Hall.
At this time the front of the town hall is undergoing major refurbishment and so an image of this iconic building is out of the question. I press on into Cross Street. Mr Thomas’s Chop House was opened in 1867 by a 32 year old Thomas Studd. It was a Boarding / Ale house where many a business meal has been consumed over the last one and a half centuries. During my butchering days I was a supplier of van loads of meat in the sixties and seventies.
Further along Cross Street the Royal Exchange Theatre has its frontage and I stop for another photograph. This rendition was the third Exchange to be built on the site, this one in 1874. Amongst its trade, cotton was by far the largest commodity to be exchanged here. It opened as the Exchange Theatre in 1976.
My last stop in the city is at a pub dated from 1552. Starting life as a slaughterhouse / butchers but later being The Wellington Pub. This structure has been moved, not once but twice! The first time to make way for the Arndale Centre in 1974 and again in 1999!
I’m clocking up the miles now but only just into double figures and I cross the River Irwell back into Salford. I’m driving through Ordsall and I stop briefly at Ordsall Hall which dates back to 1177. It has been extended / modified many times since then. Uses now include weddings, exhibitions and artisan workshops.
I traverse the Manchester Ship Canal into Trafford. The ‘Field of Dreams’ is the home of the worlds most famous football club, Manchester United and I stop once again for a piccie. As it is still early I am again able to stand in the middle of the road whilst I get a good shot. I never was a soccer fan although I have seen the Hallowed Turf but it was George Best that wowed the crowds on that occasion.
From the Field of Dreams comes the Building of Nightmares, the Trafford Centre. Opening in 1998 it is the third largest such centre in the UK. Previously owned by the Peel Group in 2011 control of the Trafford Centre was transferred to Intu. However, the centre has struggled financially over the years and in June this year Intu entered into administration. It has to be said that if it all goes belly up the car park would make a fabulous Classic Car Show ground!
Back towards Worsley and another photograph at the famous Humpback Bridge. As I have not completed the requisite 20 miles I decide to motor up to Belmont. This is an area to the north of Bolton and has a beautiful rural setting. The roads are still quiet as I drive through the centre of Bolton. The Stag’s exhaust growling as I drive between the high sided buildings and soon the hills are in view. I arrive at my destination, the Belmont Sailing Club, which is closed because it’s not even 8am yet! My final shot is of Belmont Reservoir built in 1826 to supply the town of Bolton.
I drive back home and check my mileage, 52 miles, what a surprise.