Tell your own Ancoats Story

Posts tagged “Construction and Maintenance

The Last Walkway

The last remaining walkway in
Ancoats was given planning
consent for demolition in
the summer of 2003. The
mill buildings on either side
were coming under separate
ownership, and the lawyers for
both parties wanted rid of the
liability. The walkway didn’t
qualify for protection from
demolition by the listing process,
but the regeneration group
recognised the value in trying
to keep the structure. However
without a clear function for the
walkway they could not see how
a case could be made to keep it.
Later in 2003 an artwork
proposal was accepted based
on retaining in perpetuity some
of the ‘lost’ spaces in Ancoats,
and it included the overhead
walkway. Just as the scaffolding
was being erected the developer
agreed that the walkway could
be retained.

Artist’s Tale

It all Started with a Phone Call

It all started with a phone call on a Thursday night from Stephen O’Malley the engineer. ‘Dan, the contractors doing the road have uncovered a brick arched tunnel under Henry Street. We’re filling it in on Monday so they can carry on with the road. I thought you’d like to see it. Its walled up at either end, we’re going to break into it in the morning if you want to come and have a look at it. When I arrived I was greeted by the sight of a man with his head in a hole in the pavement. Ten minutes later we were in the basement of the adjacent mill, breaking down a wall to get into the brick arched cavern with a stone flag floor and a plethora of stalactites dripping from the ceiling.

Another 10 minutes and I was negotiating with the contractor if there was not another stretch of road he could be getting on with for a few days. “What do you want to keep an empty space for?” I don’t know yet, but there is something about it. When we broke through into the walled up cavern under the road a dense and pungent smell was released and washed over us. It was a strange moment for all of us. I am sure for each of us it evoked a different experience and memory. For me it was a flashback to a visit to an ancient underground temple, the Necromanteion in Greece, said, by believers, to be the door to Hades. The latter had underground light-sensitive slugs the size of whales so I was not a little nervous as we clambered into the tunnel.

Engineer’s Tale