Regeneration Manchester: Len Grant and a city in transition

How a local photographer captured the city’s growing pains in words and images


I’ve grown up with Len Grant and so has Manchester.

I became an official tour guide for the North West in 1996, and a couple of years later, I became a writer and a commentator. All of these roles had their main focus on this city.

It makes me shiver that was a generation ago.


Many people have said the book holds a mirror up to their own time in the city

Reading Len Grant’s new book Regeneration Manchester is the equivalent of flicking through a photo album of my working life – although his book stretches a little further back to 1990, covering a turbulent thirty years of Manchester’s transition.

1997: The demolition of Marks and Spencer after the IRA bomb of 1996.

Len Grant, for those unfamiliar with him, has been the visual archivist of many of the notable projects in the city over that period. It’s all in this book: the demolition of the Hulme Crescents, the construction of the Arena and The Bridgewater Hall, the post-bomb city centre rebuild, the creation of The Lowry, Airport development, Ancoats renewal, Gorton Monastery rebirth, the arrival of The Imperial War Museum North, the New Islington renewal, the Maine Road ground demolition and much more.

There are inevitably lots of photographs of builders and building sites. These often take on an elegiac air. I’m thinking of the one with builders lost in a web of girders during the rebuild after the 1996 IRA bomb, or the exact moment of demolition of one of the stands at Maine Road with the man on his phone in the foreground unheeding.[…]

After the 1996 bomb


Continue reading: Regeneration Manchester: Len Grant and a city in transition

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Director of Manchester School of Samba at
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