If you grew up in Manchester, you’re bound to remember these things.
They’re the things that were part of the backdrop of everyday life, the things that we looked forward to most – and many of them were unique to the city.
Here, the M.E.N looks back at childhood icons from Manchester’s past.
Introduced in 1979, the ClipperCard provided ten bus trips for the price of nine – and also doubled as playground currency. Slotted into a machine at the front of the bus – with a satisfying click – they were part of Manchester life until 2004. You felt rich whenever you found one.
Christmas at Lewis’s
Lewis’s was the place to be at Christmas. Generations of kids visited the department store’s grotto – you could try out loads of toys and meet Father Christmas, who arrived in a Batmobile in 1966.
The Christmas grotto and the Lewis’s chain went hand-in-hand – the world’s first opened in the original Lewis’s store, in Liverpool, in 1879. The Manchester branch closed in 2002, and is now Primark.
In the seventies and eighties it seemed like every kid had a snorkel parka – in navy, black or green – with an orange lining. The rules were stricter around trainers – Nicks, Dunlop and Gola were an invitation to a merciless ribbing.
By the 90s the same kids were in their teens and twenties – and hiking, sailing and mountaineering coats were big on the streets of Greater Manchester. Manchester brand Henri Lloyd was popular, alongside Helle Hansen and Berghaus.
But the daddy of them all was Chorlton-founded Sprayway, favoured by all the hardest kids. If you saw one of the teal and purple ones coming towards you at Alty bus station, or Grand Central Stockport on a dark night, you knew you might be in for some trouble.
The 60-mph white knuckle ride, at Belle Vue, was a big draw from 1929, until its closure in 1971. By then Belle Vue, near Longsight, had been a pleasure palace for generations of Mancunians.
At various times over the years a world-famous zoo, boxing, pop concerts, fireworks displays, the fairground and a ballroom had thrilled Mancs at Belle Vue, but now only the greyhound track and the Speedway remain.
Sweets by the quarter…or half-pound
Sweets just don’t feel right sold in anything but imperial measures. Grams are for bags of sugar and court cases. But toffee bonbons, strawberry millions, blackcurrant and liquorice? By the quarter-pound, by the half-pound.
Travelling down Oxford Road/Wilmslow Road could give you a complete education. The Manchester Museum, the Whitworth, not to mention the Universities…and three branches of Abdul’s.
They are all still going strong, of course – but the classic picturehouses which once graced this route, with their ‘courting seats’, ushers and old school projectionists, have all vanished in the age of the multiplex. This picture shows the Scala, in Withington village, in 1969.
On those long ago summers that seemed to last forever – mostly spent outside, on a Raleigh bicycle – there was no more welcome sound that the distant tinkle of Greensleeves.
South of the city centre, it was Sivori’s who served up screwballs and 99s to youngsters – from their factory in Gorton and a fleet of 40 vans.
Who came up with the phrase ‘Chufty Badge’? We’d love to know. Fondly remembered as a rapid verbal takedown to a boast – as in ‘So, what d’you want a chufty badge or summat?’
The phrase ‘shell’ was of a similar vintage. What we said when someone we didn’t like tripped over their laces – as in ‘Ah, shell!’
Anyway, real Chufty Badges can now be bought on eBay.
Kick scooters are a big deal for today’s primary schoolkids – but remember when roller skates were the wheels of choice? Birch Hall Roller Skating Palace – at the junction of Rusholme and Longsight – thrived from the thirties until the eighties, with some big stars playing pop gigs there in the sixties. It’s now a supermarket.
A short distance east, and Levenshulme’s defunct Arcadia roller rink hosted skaters over a hundred year period – excepting stints as a cinema in the forties, and a cash and carry in the sixties.
The famous font and the collectable toys made by Galt, in the sixties and seventies, are now celebrated as icons of modernist design. In the eighties and nineties their factory tours thrilled thousands of kids – and, like Gorton Tub a few miles east, it was popular venue for birthday parties. Galt – who date back to 1836 – have been based in Cheadle for over sixty years.
Manc kids’ telly
Chorlton’s Cosgrove Hall produced some classic kids telly for over thirty years. Rainbow, Noddy, Chorlton and the Wheelies, The Wind in the Willows, Danger Mouse and Count Duckula, and more recently Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, Roary the Racing Car, re-makes of Andy Pandy and Bill and Ben, not to mention film versions of The BFG.
Sooty and Sweep, Soo and Little Cousin Scampi are also honorary Mancs – Sooty was first seen on screen with Harry Corbett, live from Belle Vue, and in the 90s version the gang ran a bric-a-brac shop in Manchester.
Depending on your age and where you grew up, they were the clubs you either wanted to go to, managed to sneak into underage, the ones your parents told you about – or where they snook off to when they left you at your gran’s house.
Manchester is famous for the Hacienda, but many would argue that places like Wythenshawe’s Golden Garter, Moss Side’s Reno, Harpurhey’s Embassy Club, the Bier Keller, the Twisted Wheel and the Wigan Casino were the real face of Greater Manchester’s clubland.
And who could forget Discoteque Royales, Piccadilly 21s, and further afield, Warrington’s Mr Smiths?
Saturdays were not complete without a rain-spattered visit to a market like Longsight – which is still going strong – or Grey Mare Lane, which closed in 2013.
It was where you went for everything from cheaper versions of the latest fashion trend, to meat and fish, and for Manchester’s black and Asian families, they were among the few places you could find stallholders who sold good quality imported staples in the 70s and 80s.
Specialist markets are thriving these days – but the traditional market has had to fight for relevance in a world of ‘pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ clothing stores and all-in-one supermarkets everywhere.
Shirley Baker’s pictures are now famous for capturing Manchester of the sixties – where working class housing was poor but community tight, where mothers in headscarves polished the front step.
Many of the photos she took – in Hulme, Chorlton-on-Medlock and Salford – capture children at play. Soft play? No such thing. Baker’s photos capture kids making playgrounds of abandoned houses and post-war rubble, in between hopskotch and cricket. Anyone for wallie?
Sharp and Brother
Football sponsors seem to change every five minutes these days but back in the day they had real longevity, which meant certain logos were everywhere in Manchester for years.
Japanese electricals maker Brother sponsored Man City for 12 years (1987 to 1989), whereas Sharp, Man United’s first sponsor, backed the club for nearly twenty years (1982 to 2000).
You had everything from the groundbreaking to the nostalgic under the Piccadilly umbrella. The likes of Mike Shaft and Stu Allen were UK dance music pioneers in the eighties, playing house music long before the Londoners.
Meanwhile, over on Piccadilly Gold – on AM, in the 90s – you could hear ‘What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted’ and ‘Knights in White Satin’ three times a day if you wanted to.
Ireland’s Atlantic 252 – on longwave – was another 90s Manchester stalwart. They only seemed to have about 12 records but no trip in your dad’s Maestro was complete without them.
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