VISIT MANCHESTER – WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ? A southern ex pat’s reflections after some forty year’s in residence.

Posted in Visit Manchester on September 28th, 2012 by John Coxon


( click on any image to see an enlarged view)

Manchester and its County Greater Manchester has within it the best of British. It is diverse but far less stressful, far more friendly, far more human in feel and compact than the official capital. It is  the ultimate destination for the visitor to Britain. London for the obvious ; Manchester for the discerning with an open mind and a location you should never underestimate.

The bottom line perception is of a place where it is always raining.  I suggest that it does not rain any more than elsewhere and rain , indirectly, actually  was integral to the City’s extraordinary success.   Rain  helped  grow it and still helps sustain its magnificent industrial heritage  indirectly.

Central Manchester’s retains a network of canal’s once the chief form of haulage transport ,now focus of leisure boating and waterside accommodation, cafe’s and bars.

But what’s a Southern Ex Pat  doing here, inspired to  write an unsolicited  testimonial for Manchester as a visitor destination of the highest order ?  For me  it is just the best place to live  and work and full of surprises everywhere you look . I could never get bored with it, even after forty years in residence and me  an outsider that decided it was the ultimate home from home.

In my late teens (1960’s) before I moved here to live and study at the University, Manchester  conjured up visions of high daily rainfall,  grimy industrial landscapes , urban sprawl, Coronation Street style  terraced homes ,  and musically the Hollies, the Bee Gees and Herman’s Hermits. Abroad on holidays in Spain, Italy or France, when asked by natives where I lived, my reply, “Manchester”  got the same reply universally – “Ah! Bobby Charlton. ” For all those overseas, back then , Manchester was only synonymous with one of it’s  football team’s, and even that was only half the story, the half of the  city that played in red.

I left coastal Dorset, my parents home at Weymouth, 40 years ago to come and live permanently in Greater Manchester and never regretted it. Portland Harbour here, my former childhood playground.

Why forsake the coastal location of my childhood where I spent  balmy formative years, sun, sea and sand ,  rock hopping and swimming,  at  the very spot where the 2012  Olympic Sailing took place ? What keeps me still, far  away from parochial rural seaside bliss and here  in  vibrant northern urban clamour, the grit and rain and likely living  a slightly shorter life span in prospect by settling in the North?  In short it is real here and a great place to work, rest and play and happy to shout about just how good it is as a place to live and visit.

Manchester University  was  where I landed up after leaving home  and was also to change my life and curiously that all started when I was kicked off a four year Town Planning diploma course as a duffer at Maths and Economics but yet , threateningly, highly literate and inclined to speak my mind thus successfully to  transfer faculties  to study for a BA in Literature to save the professor’s face. Life changing ?  Well in a sense , the beginning of an affair with the  camera that will no doubt see me through to the finish. The  Oxford Road  based School of Architecture had a basement planners could share , and  our course work and field study came with the need to develop photography skills and use them.  It gave  me an eye for architecture, developed my existing passion for local history, and recording  evidence in the detail.

Near the now empty Colgate Palmolive factory, looking east from the Eccles to Manchester metro tram, near Pomona Strand  with a huge  spur from the Ship Canal and the modern skyline of the City in the distance, a delicious cocktail of heritage industrial and modern builds that define Manchester.

Better still it  offered free daily use of  live darkroom and all the paper you could use back in my days of film and compromise by virtue of  the lack of enough disposable income to be able to afford top of the range photography gear. At a point  following graduation, I wanted to put down roots and lurched into teacher training when I should have looked for journalism work. I qualified as a Primary teacher but curiously completed  my “probationary” year in inner city Salford with disturbed and challenged and challenging kids for an incredible fifteen years , ending up as Acting Head before “the shake up” which saw me work a year in a school for “normal” kids with physical disabilities and then the  next decade in  a ground breaking special  school for kids with every learning difficulty you can think of. I was rather good at  , used photography to support learning and self belief, until excessive government intervention  took control and put measurable exam results over all  actual useful learning and people like me making an actual difference to young lives. I put kids lives before completing the mountain of paperwork I was forced to waste so many hours getting filled in and resigned when the paperwork was more important than anything I could do with lids.

Newtown Mill 1874 ( renamed Lowry Mill following recent refurbishment and now a storage bushiness & offices) within five hundred yards of where I live.. Few people lived very far from a Victorian red brick cotton mill in this region during Lancashire’s industrial golden age.

All that was a while back now and I have been in blissful retirement for nearly a decade, self employed as a professional freelance photographer and journalist.  Out of my office window, here in Salford, I can see a huge restored cotton mill, re-used now as a storage and office complex close to LS Lowry and Ghandi actor Ben Kingsley’s former homes . I love Salford and love Manchester equally and both are far better as destinations for visitors than most people can imagine so here I am telling people why they should have a rethink about this wonderful location! The best testimonials are those that are unsolicited; writing and photography are my source of income but Manchester here is a freebie in your honour !

It was the Olympics that inspired me to celebrate this City here at this time – a city where already I had covered professionally, over a number of years, World Cup events, international field hockey and international track cycling at our home of GBCycling ,to the east of the City , at  the National Cycling Centre Velodrome.

Bob, friendly Mancunian posed for me in front of a Manchester pillar box gilded to celebrate the extraordinary sporting achievements of its Paralympic and Olympic gold medallist cyclists.


On my way to cover grass roots sport , having to pass through the city centre ,  I had planned to take detour to detail and later celebrate on social media, the gold post box on Albert Square  because of news that the Council wanted it gold permanently in honour of the extraordinary GB Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the Manchester area, particularly our world record breaking  cyclists. Did that but then had to walk across town with time to kill because a section of the Metro was due to essential maintenance work and I was once again blown away with how many wonderful sights there were to photograph walking through the city centre down to Deansgate and Castlefield, via St Peter’s Square. (Simultaneously I also focused on transport provision for people in wheelchairs with a view to illustrating a feature on those issues planned for next week.  I found transport on the whole very wheelchair friendly.)   So it was that album of images I came home with  on the way in the morning and on the way back ,as I made my way home early evening, that stimulated me to write a kind of unsolicited testimonial here for the city and to proclaim it as a great place to visit.

Manchester’s palatial brick art Midland Hotel , where , Henry Royce and Stewart Rolls met in 1904 to form the Rolls-Royce Motor company. Call in even today for a silver service afternoon tea in wonderful surroundings.


An ex pat Southerner I came here to get a degree.  From 1971 till 1976 I lived in student shared accommodation in West Didsbury, Withington Fallowfield and Whalley Range. I fell in love with the North and what I’d call it’s capital, the City of Manchester which to this day , for me , is far more attractive than London having studied and then worked here all my working life. It is a photographer’s dream everywhere you turn.

George Wylie’s giant bicycle one of many modern street sculptures that brighten up the city , here at Deansagte , and called “Life Cycle” commissioned in 1995 for an environment conference. For me the city is a photographer’s paradise with surprises at every turn.

London for me is massively overwhelming by comparison, the home of national Government, its reactionary, conservative,  jobs worth bureaucracy, the Monarchy and all over , stacked with showy architecture  and national monuments  that proclaimed the Empire and which were designed in the main to impress.  Manchester is far away  from all that capital  self proclaimed centre of fashion, its brash  front, the centre of banking and accountancy, money markets, and first refuge of the wealthy and the preferred home of  “I.T.” people  ( not technology but the seriously vain who think they are it )  and the fake class infested social “season”. It is haven, and is for me , HQ to those  who grow ever richer on interest and effort of those who actually do the real work, those who  create the wealth, and for a long while , in the Empire days, that was  Manchester. Manchester is the place of genuine debate , more earthly genuine things,  a place that gave me my degree , a home,  where I have worked all my professional teaching life with inner city kids with Special needs in its neighbour City, survived divorce  and finally found  the woman of my dreams, a local lass  with whom I now share my life.

Beetham Tower, tallest residential accommodation in Europe tower’s above Manchester’s red brick industrial heritage landmarks ,in a city where the past and the present blend in harmony and pointing towards a confident future .

These day’s I am my own boss and can think of nowhere else better to live and work professionally as a freelance   photographer and journalist , with its heritage , its varied locations within the City, ,  and the Greater Manchester conurbation,  and Manchester, the magical mix of old and new ,as well as a number of world class venues for world class sport.

No apologies for beginning this visual walk around Manchester with a shot of a drain cover! Manchester’s strength is in it’s fabric , its heritage ,  echoes of that heritage if you have the eyes to see it.   Here for me is a thing of simple beauty most people would walk past without even noticing . It is  a fusion of design and function, cast no doubt,  in the day’s when iron cast  street furniture  down to the very grid covers were  made in local foundries and they  put their name or the  Lancashire town of origin on their work with evident pride.

We can talk about the weather and examine Manchester’s legendary rainfall but I propose that rain had a vital part to play in the success of this magnificent city. Without water  there can be no life. Without rain Manchester would not have become in terms of generating wealth for the nation, the real work capital of Great Britain!

Untrue that frequent rain dominate’s Manchester’s weather but rain water drove the creation of it’s original industrial wealth.

Manchester’s “rains everyday” reputation  is a bit of a myth -it does not rain everyday contrary to popular belief ! Yes the air is inclined to be damp , chest problems are historically more common here  than down in the warmer South. Rain Water was and is to a lesser  extent , vital to the City’s growth. In the city’s hinterland, the Pennine Hills and the Peaks ,  cloud and precipitation created  streams that fed  rivers and filled the City’s  canals and  and kept them topped up and also kept filled  the reservoirs in nearby spectacular countryside containing the huge volumes of water  needed to sustain a huge population.

The damp air accounts for the explosion of the cotton industry from the days of the Empire when the Manchester, back then  in Lancashire ,  was part of the  massive textile industry that  bankrolled the Empire and was then the  most important stream of income for the national economy. (Damp air was vital to the Cotton industry – it prevented the cotton threads being too dry and therefore constantly breaking in the spinning process so productivity could be maximised )

Bridgewater canal , Worsley -the first canal in the UK designed to carry coal by boat to Manchester direct from the coal mines behind this building at the Delph

Rain water powered the steam engines that powered the factories and railway’s trains. Rain water channelled by engineers and labourer armies with shovels dug the canals that enabled raw materials to be moved around and manufactured products to be distributed to markets across the country and beyond. Rain water flooded the coal mines at the Delf at Worsley in Salford and that water problem also became the mine’s salvation and led to the birth of our national  inland waterway system with the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater commissioning the canal that still bears his name to carry his coals , not on pack horse, but on horse drawn boats. Rain water to this day runs through Bridgewater’s sealed off mine shafts , leeching out iron oxide from the rock and to this day the canal is famous for its orange tinted water.

You can still see this skeleton boat at the Delph, Worsley heavily ribbed craft used to float coal from the mines. the water is orange due to the leeching from rainfall of iron oxide in the mine shafts.

Rain  also floated and indirectly fuelled  the local and national economy at the turn of the 1800’s . It was  to be channelled through a  bold and enormous , hand-dug ditch , an incredible 8th wonder of the world as an  engineering feat, the creation of the Manchester Ship Canal.

A group of labourers digging a section out to form the Manchester Ship Canal – canals were called navigations hence the labourers were known colloquially as navvies. ( this image and a range of  heritage vessels and artefacts can be seen at the wonderful Ellesmere Port Boat Museum near Liverpool where the Ship Canal met the sea.

It linked  Manchester’s  nine Docks, including the major docks of what is now Salford Quays to Liverpool and the sea, the Irish Sea and beyond  to the Atlantic Ocean  and all foreign markets. That rain water filled canal helped  reduce shipping and other transport costs and facilitated the export of Lancashire and Manchester manufactured goods and the import of resources direct to the heart of the city and beyond and the docks had huge “basins” to take the biggest ocean going vessels of the day.

All around the city are fine textile industry heritage buildings of varied style- here a Grade 2 listed building an early example of a steel frame structure , formerly a warehouse for textiles and now the Malmaison Hotel near Picadilly Railway Station.

Water from rain nurtured the principal source of wealth in Manchester and Lancashire’s  hay day with its importing  of cheap cotton, from the Third World and in part from  the /southern States of the USA , the production  of cheap cotton goods in its mills. Finished good were sold and exported back to  its biggest market , old Empire Third World countries. Those mills needed a cheap  water supply and that was  basically from ponds called locally “lodges”  which collected rain water. (In front of me , out of my office window,  is Newtown Mill, built 1870. ( see below )  It has a huge flat roof and abnormally huge down pipes – that rain water was piped into an upper and lower lodges making the mill when it produced cotton, self sufficient in terms of it original source of energy steam power)

As the industry grew , engineering works grew up in the Manchester area , particularly beside the Ship Canal and the vast  Trafford Park Industrial Estate – making , for example ,industrial machinery for the textile industry. That led eventually to the export of that machinery empowering nations abroad to manufacture for themselves and ultimately that led the docklands demise  and for supporting businesses and thereafter  the cotton industry was to collapse and ultimately the docklands fell into disuse.  That was not the end of the story or the importance of rain to the City and this area  as visitors will find.  Salford docks , derelict by the 1970’s , have  been totally regenerated, re-invented and  are now known  as Salford Quays.

Salford Quays , one of the huge basins that could take Ocean going ships, the former docklands serving Manchester – an impressive regeneration area and now a major international tourist attraction.

The Quays have become  an A list international tourist attraction with extensive new waterside accommodation and luxury apartments  , leisure, retail, cultural  and hospitality facilities and a home to a  large number of new businesses including IT blue chip based ones plus the new home of BBC at Media City.  I had to laugh when former BBC presenters , London based ,  faded into relative media obscurity because they refused to move up to work here presumably because they thought the combined cities of Manchester and Salford were jungles when in every aspect the future of media is here and no doubt very possibly safer than the capital.

More recent civil riots  over spilled from London on a copy cat basis and did neither Salford or Manchester any favours reputation wide  – but the mobs here, a tiny minority, mostly disaffected sub-culture youths , most already known to the police,   with a curious way of shop lifting , smashing windows after hours. In no way was that manifestation of disorder political , or revolt of an oppressed under class or in any way typical of the vast majority of ordinary decent people in the population who were disgusted by the riots ( and later turned up with brooms to help the Police, shop owners and council workmen, clean up the mess and restore normality.)

Rain is not an everyday  thing in the Manchester area ( although the last three months have been the wettest on record but that was a national phenomenon, not a local one.) Water is everywhere in the city but whilst it continues to refresh us, it is largely contained in local lakes and canals and also spouts from the odd public fountain or two here . You are some way from the coast in Manchester (though it is a mere 34 miles by motorway to Liverpool, Blackpool and the Fylde Coast ) but nowhere are you far from parkland, green fields, or water  and within the City Centre for example, every block seems to have a stretch of canal running under it or through it.

Canal side railway viaduct arches near the bottom of Deansgate and the Castlefield area of the City centre bustle with bars and cafés providing numerous venues for refreshments and a vibrant day and night-life.

Forget Amsterdam! These days most of the Manchester urban and rural  canal tow paths are easily accessible and in town , there are  a large number of canal side facilities , bars and cafés  alongside   new accommodation overlooking the canals  and all that has  made waterside residency and  a walk any time ,   a leisure /pleasure day and night and those pleasures are inclusive.  The Canal Street area of the City is the vibrant self-confident heart of the City’s  LGBT community  and its night life and is also the starting and finishing point of the huge annual  Manchester Pride Parade, a colourful mass , a united affirmation of sexual orientation , with the City’s blessing  and joy in life  a  spectacle to rival any carnival anywhere in Europe and beyond.

Rain also oiled Manchester’s wheels so to speak. The first ever rail passenger journey in  the UK was in a rudimentary locomotive powered from steam created from heating local rain water using locally mined coal on a footplate ! It ran from Castlefield, (my favourite location in  the City and a must see area for any visitor with enough excitement and interest to fill anyone’s day to the full) to Rainhill in Liverpool. That first ever railway station in the UK and all its related buildings are  now restored and part of the fabulous Science and Industry Museum complex and a few steps away from the Air and Space Museum. You could spend a perfect day in those award winning museums alone.

Manchester has sough to actively retain and conserve its industrial heritage buildings and make creative new uses for them , in particular for inner city modern accommodation bringing the city centre a new lease of vibrant life,

The shells of so many of those huge numbers red brick factories and mills that created Manchester’s  wealth in manufacturing , the warehouses and splendid offices are still there wherever you go within the city and further out within the conurbation that is Greater Manchester  , most with new, modern uses. But the nuts and bolts of all that went on inside can be see in that wonderful Science and Industry museum including original textile machinery still in use today for live demonstrations of the process.  From a visit to the museum you will see what an immense impact the local entrepreneurs, inventors and engineers and workers had on Victorian Britain and beyond  and marvel at their  basic technology and the ingenious application of it and hard graft.

But as ever there is a downside to rain  and while every cloud has a silver lining, in the early Victorian era , the clouds were, metaphorically speaking a deadly shade of grey. In the early Victorian age onwards in Manchester, housing and working conditions for the working classes were horrendous and the attendant health problems , the slums, the  overcrowding, the high infant mortality rate, the need to have large families to gain sufficient income to survive became so bad that  it eventually led to ground breaking reforms (possibly too because of the knock on effect threatening the health of  wealthy  elite.)   Housing was often squalid, placed close to places of work without basic sanitation or a clean water supply with the result that disease was commonplace with, for example,  the water table polluted by urine and sewage. That lead to an  epidemic of cholera in the 1830’s but ironically triggered the start of public health legislation and reform with a oppressed and exploited  populous increasingly demanding change.

Replica of the Planet housed in Manchester’s award winning museum of Science and industry at Castlefield, it replaced the Rocket the train which won the Rainhill trials and Planet thereafter pulled the first ever passenger train journey in the UK from here to Liverpool.

Most  factory , mill and mine owners had scant regard for labour rights or social conditions and yet built churches and some schools where the aim was that children could read the bible , go to church and that was the subtle enforcement of the Christian dogma. That was  more concerned with ensuring total compliance to employers will and maintaining the slavery of the godly work ethic  than any concern for the actual well being or health  of the work force.  In the North you will find too the birth  of many   social reforms and improvements to working conditions driven by the desperation of people no longer able to tolerate or survive existing conditions. Here the birth of unions with direct and often violent confrontations at first against the state and the police on side with the powerful  owners of wealth against  ordinary people having the courage but finally no other alternative but to unite and fight for basic rights.  Salford’s Working Class Movement Library, at the Crescent  is a national treasure house of literature and unique social and political history artefacts and documents which attests to the people of this region who fough to affect social change and better working conditions.

At Cheetham Hill Library, part of the ancient  music school,  opposite Victoria Railway Station ,you can sit at table in  the very chairs where scientific socialist pioneers Frederick Engels and Karl Marx (Father of social science and Marxist communism)  once sat together during  visits to Manchester. From here Engels partly wrote  down his personal  eye witness observations and experiences from around the City. What he saw turned him into a lifetime political radical and champion for social change. In the 1840’s published “The Condition of the Working-Class in England.”

From such seeds , the observation and reporting of those conditions led to  acts of parliament and  gradual political and social change. It  saw the growth too  of public parks across Manchester to claw back some healthy clean air leisure space , public sanitation, fresh clean water on tap and other improvements to everyday life and many smaller open space public parks were either  gifted to the city by benevolent wealthy local industrialist families or more often bought by the Manchester Corporation on behalf of local citizens. It is no accident that today , Manchester’s elected councillor’s do the town’s daily business in what looks like a gothic cathedral, Manchester’s magnificent town hall,  in Albert Square. It has as a council,  remained socialist , is Labour held, and given the history of this region , that is completely  understandable. Both Manchester and Salford have a contingent of Tories who in the  main represent the better heeled   post codes  which ironically were, in the case of  parts of Worsley for example, rural and industrial estates lorded over by wealthy landowners, and where for example, a cottage once the humble little  home of a dozen poverty struck artisans , now command’s a king’s ransom from up market  estate agents to actually live there.

Thus today both in Manchester and its Salford City neighbour, the predominant colour of the landscape in both cities is not rain soaked concrete jungle grey  or red brick but green and indeed , in Salford, 60% of the total area is green space.

With the most comprehensive motorway network in Europe serving the Greater Manchester county, from central Manchester you can drive for twenty minutes or less and find yourself in a variety of rural landscapes moorland or rocky hills and dales, arable farm land   and the Pennine and Peak District National Parks.  Manchester also has the second largest airport in the United Kingdom so this wonderful holiday and visitor destination which  has everything, both to see and do, and far more compact than London is easy street to fly into It is so easy to get to, so easy to get around on private or public transport  and is always welcoming , friendly and vibrant.

The Manchester Metro tram network serves the city and beyond and is in the process of being extended. Efficient and environmentally friendly.

The latest addition to the infrastructure is the highly successful, ultra reliable Metro network tram system and it is also specifically designed to be inclusive and state of the art for wheelchair users down to the detail of disability  marker paving flags which line up to where the doors will be located when the tram car stops and, the floor of the cars is completely level with the platform to make transfer effortless. There are a significantly greater number of buses than in many town and cities which are wheelchair accessible with either fold out ramps or hydraulics which lower the entry threshold to pavement level.  Manchester ? Love it.


Posted in Olympics 2012, Parasport on September 23rd, 2012 by John Coxon

Friendly Mancunian Bob, out exercising on two crutches happy to pose for me next to the city’s collective gold medalist commemorating pillar box. Bob felt motivated to work on his mobility because of the success of our Paralympian gold medalists.


Manchester has agreed to seek retain permanently the gold painted pillar box on Albert Square at the heart of the city as a collective permanent gesture to honour all the Olympian cycling medallists from London 2012. Royal mail with its iconic red pillar boxes, bearing the royal crown and the monogram of the monarch, celebrated, as Great Britain’s Olympian and Paralympian athletes enjoyed unprecedented success, record numbers of medals of all metals  and decided to recognise the achievements of our athletes by producing personalised commemorative stamps and by painting a post box gold in the hometown of Olympic and Paralympic gold medal winning athletes.

Traditional pillar box design in its customary Post Office bright red colour.

This is the concrete proof on a day to day basis of, and demonstration of, renewed  national pride inspired by both Games and fitting that one of the most iconic British items of street furniture, the ubiquitous post office red post box should be selectively gilded in the home towns and residency towns of our gold medallists.

The golden post box in the shadow oF the gothic magnificence of Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square.

The city of Manchester is a forward thinking, innovative vibrant, exciting place to visit equal in every department to the capital and in my view even more welcoming. It has  been incredibly successful in attracting and encouraging sports events and helping provide the infrastructure and world class venues for sports events and athlete training. The Manchester Aquatics Centre is home of Team GB swimming. ( Britain’s most successful Paralympian is swimmer Mike Kenny who won 16 gold medals in four Paralympic games )

Manchester Aquatics Centre home to GB Swimming and frequent venue for the annual BT Paralympic Swimming World Cup.

The state of the art Velodrome at Sports City to the East of the city centre the other jewel in the city’s sporting crown is the home of the  National Cycling Centre of excellence and home to the incredibly successful GB cycling team and GB Paralympians. In  Greater Manchester ( the county)  live some of the best cyclists the world has ever seen. Native and resident athletes of the Greater Manchester area brought to the city a veritable treasure chest of medals with a brace of Olympic and Paralympic gold.

Sir Chris Hoy during a Revolution event at the Manchester Velodrome, home of GB Cycling.

Originally , during the games, the pillar box at Manchester’s iconic showcase public space , the heart of the city, Albert Square, with its lavish architural splendour, the magnificent  Victorian gothic cathedral-like Town hall as a backdrop, was painted gold originally to honour the gold cycling medals won by  Philip Hindes’  in the  team sprint final with Bolton-born Jason Kenny,MBE  and Salford-based Sir Chris Hoy,MBE, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian but due to be repainted red eventually.

finished in 1877 at a cost then of a million pounds, Albert Waterhouse’s prize winning gothic design declared the city’s confidence and industrial wealth. It features a central clock tower 280 feet high – the clock mechanism has been telling Mancunians the time since1879.

The Manchester  conurbation is literally a gold mine for cycling success with an impressive list of Olympic medallists. These include , amongst and incredible 64 olympian and paeralympian athletes,  Wilmslow’s Victoria Pendleton, MBE, and Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King, all based in Fallowfield and Barney Storey MBE Paralympian golden tandem pilot and his amazingly successful wife Sarah Storey OBE (née Bailey) born in Eccles (Salford )and now resident in the Disley area. Others include Manchester-based  Geraint Thomas (Altrincham), Ed Clancy (Newton-le-Willows), Peter Kennaugh (Manchester) and Steven Burke (Colne). Sarah has now equalled record breaking Tanni Grey-Thompson’s tally of Paralympic gold medals. For a full list of all sixty four Greater Manchester Paralympians and Olympians follow this link – Mad For It !

Victoria Pendleton

The pillar box was due to be repainted red when routine maintenance is next due  but Councillor  Carl Austin, who is in charge of promoting cycling in the city, has written to officials at British Cycling and Royal Mail asking if they can make it a permanent fixture, complete with a plaque. It followed calls for a homecoming parade for the country’s two-wheeled heroes.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s royal cypher – R for the Latin for queen, (Regina)

He declared “The athletes from Manchester and the surrounding area that have won those medals and put this city, cycling and the Velodrome on the map.” He  urged the authorities to leave it gold for posterity in Albert Square, the communal focus of the city.  (It seems likely to me  that there will be calls to ask the royal Mail to leave all the other post boxes they have gilded  not to paint them red again.)  For more on post boxes in great Britain check here History of post boxes


Mrs Sarah Storey medal Queen of British cycling.

 Footnote  Sarah Storey OBE is  the most highly decorated Paralympians ever. with her victory at Brand’s hatch she pulled level with wheelchair athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s eleven golds  and swimmer Dave Roberts, but Sarah’s  total haul of 22 medals is the largest in British Paralympian history.

Sarah equalled the record breaking gold medal tally of former Paralympic wheelchair racer Tanni who is now a peer in the House of Lords and champions  disability and women’s rights. Sarah holds the record for as the most prolific medallist in the history of the Paralympics.

In between her relentless  training schedule on track and on the  hilly roads  near her home the village of Disley, Cheshire East, on the very edge of the glorious Peak District National Park Sarah  is also a gifted motivational public speaker –she is a  business motivational speaker as well as specialising on topics such as  Change & Change Management, Diversity, Olympics, Overcoming Adversity, Sporting / Olympic Motivation and Teamwork. (The commemorative Royal Mail  postage stamp featuring Sarah can be seen here in her  local paper  Sarah’s Stamp )

Sarah in fact did a tour recently of her collection of four gold painted post boxes in Eccles (Salford) at Gilda Brook , where she was born; in Disley, where she grew up and where she now lives; in Poynton, where she went to secondary school, and in Macclesfield. From her website I want to quote a paragraph which sums up this  extraordinary athlete’s  career so far.

Mr and Mrs Storey, British Cycling’s most successful medal winning couple!

“Sarah topped the medal table for the British team with 4 Gold Medals from 4 events including an impressive World Record in her first event the C5 Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit. Sarah’s dominance of her C5 class at the London Games, put her a class above her rivals and further established her as a true heroiIn London 2012, at the biggest Paralympic Games of all time, Sarah topped the medal table for the British team with 4 Gold Medals from 4 events including an impressive World Record in her first event the C5 Women’s 3000m Individual Pursuit.
Sarah’s dominance of her C5 class at the London Games, put her a class above her rivals and further established her as a true heroine of Paralympic Sport. In the build up to her success in London, Sarah rode several professional women’s road races and most noteably stood on the podium alongside Marianne Vos, 7 days before she won the Olympic Games Road Race.
Sarah is the most highly ranked Paralympic athlete in world sport and missed out on selection for the Great Britain Olympic team due to the strength in depth of talent at British Cycling. In the build up to her success in London, Sarah rode several professional women’s road races and most noteably stood on the podium alongside Marianne Vos, 7 days before she won the Olympic Games Road Race. Sarah is the most highly ranked Paralympic athlete in world sport and missed out on selection for the Great Britain Olympic team due to the strength in depth of talent at British Cycling ”
from the website – link here  TEAM STOREY SPORT

Detail of a shot I took of Sarah saluting the crowds after another win and personal best showing Sarah’s Autograph where I had given her a couple of A4 prints as gifts for her parents and asked her if she would kindly sign the shot of her for me which she graciously did. It now has pride of place on my office wall.

To view a small selection from my archives of  Paralympian track cycling photographs from one of my many visits to Manchester’s Velodrome here – GB TRACK STARS

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