UK Diaries-2 multifaceted manchester

The highlight of the Manchester trip was the visit to the beautifully restored historic home of Elizabeth Gaskell, the famous Victorian novelist
UK Diaries-2 multifaceted manchester

HYDERABAD: Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester is today a vibrant, global city with fine traditions of culture, arts, and sports. The many roles played by this city in the English history are often reflected in those refurbished warehouses, railway viaducts, cotton mills and canals –remnants of the past when the city produced and traded goods. On the second day, we set out on a cold morning to appreciate the diversity the city offers to visitors with varied interests.

Manchester Art Gallery
With massive collections of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts etc  (among 25, 000 objects, the oldest is an Egyptian Canopic jar from circa 1100 BC), Manchester Art Gallery is dominant in its collection of Victorian art, especially that of the Pre-Rapaelites. John William Waterhouse’s famous “Hylas and the Nymphs” was in the recent news, creating a controversy: I was keen on seeing this masterpiece. The abduction of Hylas by water nymphs was a theme of ancient art and has been an enduring subject for Western art in the classical tradition.

This renowned painting depicts a warrior Hylas, an incredibly handsome man in a pool of water, surrounded by beautiful nymphs who were bewitched by his good looks. He is stunned and pauses to kiss one of them and that’s when they pull him into the water to drown him in an eternal life of love- Hylas simply disappears. When the gallery took down this painting temporarily to encourage a debate as to how women’s bodies should be displayed, there was a strong backlash with accusations of censorship, puritanism and political correctness.

Among the countless works of art, “Only a lock of hair” by John Everett Millais is another impressive painting (1857-8), an enigmatic work that blends portrait and narrative that depicts a young lady cutting off a lock of her hair. The far away thoughtfulness of her face suggests all sorts of possibilities lying at this moment.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
The highlight of my Manchester trip was certainly a visit to the beautifully restored historic home of Elizabeth Gaskell, the famous Victorian novelist. Walking through the momentous period rooms, visitors learn about the lives of Gaskell family, the restoration of the house and Elizabeth’s literary career. One can browse the books in William Gaskell’s study and sit where Elizabeth sat to write, overlooking her beloved garden. The majority of the furniture and objects can be touched and used: they provide a rare hands-on experience.  

Imperial War Museum-North
This striking, shard-like building across the bridge in Salford Quays occupies a site overlooking the industrial centres that were heavily bombed during WW II in 1940. In addition to the physical exhibits, the walls of the gallery space are used as screens to project hourly audio-visuals called the ‘Big Picture’, which explore themes related to the modern conflict.

These presentations use up to 1,500 images from the Imperial War Museum’s photograph archive complemented by personal accounts from the museum’s oral history sound archive. Princess Indira of Kapurthala features prominently as she drove an ambulance during WW II, joined BBC and was known as ‘The Radio Princess’. Right across, the sprawling MediaCityUK, which is home to the BBC and many other media tech companies stands regally with its proud record of a longstanding reputation as one of the best creative centres in the world.

National Football Museum
In the world’s best football museum, there’s so much to see and do - “hands-on” fun for all the family and enough objects to fill a football pitch! It has the world’s finest collection of football artefacts and archives: exciting moments, unforgettable memories, legendary players, from the 1966 World Cup Final ball to Maradonna’s “Hand of God” shirt, “Cigarette Case with Footballer” (1880), over 140,000 boots, balls, programmes, paintings, postcards and ceramics including the prestigious FIFA collection.  Over 2,500 objects are on display at any one time.

The Refuge by Volta
Our Sunday Roast Dinner at “The Refuge” with Ryan Johns was over an engaging conversation and Yorkshire pudding. As I looked out of the window I saw snowflakes drifting in the air.

Palace Theatre
Post dinner, our theatre experience at Palace Theatre, originally known as the “Grand Old Lady of Oxford Street”, it is one of the best equipped and popular theatres outside London; often hosting major touring musicals, operas, ballets, comedy acts and one night concerts. “Flashdance” the musical: I felt that an immensely talented cast was wasted for lack of a good story and editing.

It was too wearisome, repetitive, long and boring- I snoozed in the warmth of the cosy theatre for most of the two hours forty minutes, the décor and the old world charm of a traditional theatre space notwithstanding. Finally, when the curtains were down, we darted to our hotel in the freezing cold, which was literally across the road. Under the warm glow of the chandeliers, the Manchester Horse in the lobby looked even more majestic. (The author is a documentary filmmaker and travel writer; she blogs at

Fact FilE
Northern Quarter is home to countless independent fashion stores, record shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. You can buy something handmade, personal and bespoke at Manchester Craft and Design Centre: jewellery, bags, ceramics, interior accessories, paintings etc.
At the very eclectic “Affleck’s”, an icon of indie commerce, you can find anything from top hats to tattoos.

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