Ancoats is undergoing rapid changes at the moment. Nevertheless, it is still the best place to see the industrial heritage of the world’s fist industrialised city.
Ancoats is formerly an industrial area of central Manchester that is now being renovated and gentrified, but still it stands as a kind of open-air museum of the Industrial Revolution. There are building works being carried out everywhere and giant mills-cum-flats connected by old cobblestone streets with telling names such as “Cotton Street”, “Loom Street”, “Silk Street”, and the bizarrely named “Radium Street”.
The earliest mills were built here in the 1790s. The Royal Mill, however, was one of the last, built much later in 1912 along the Rochdale Canal. It was renamed following a visit from King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1942. Probably for the best, because its old name was the rather confusing Old New Mill.
Fast becoming a trendy area for affluent residents of Manchester, the area was once a cholera-ridden slum district of back-to-back houses for the town’s poorest. Its population was massive, but the only public building was a church amongst the “dark satanic mills”. This couldn’t be more different now than with the popular nightclub Sankeys and venue Band on the Wall moving in.
Though many buildings have become listed, there is, nevertheless, still some worry that the original character of Ancoats will be lost on the journey from slums to city pads. Now the effects of the “Credit Crunch” are being felt across British councils and private property developers, and much work has been halted. One example of this is the old hospital, which is sadly falling into disrepair, and the fact of the matter is that, for companies where profit comes first, it is easier and cheaper to build new properties rather than carefully renovating old ones.