Something rich and strange

Edited by Paul Dobraszczyk and Sarah Butler



  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4414-0
  • Pages: 360
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £12.99
  • Published Date: November 2020
  • BIC Category: Urban Communities, City & Town Planning - Architectural Aspects, Local Interest, Family History & Nostalgia, Local Studies, Local and family history, nostalgia, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside


What is Manchester? Moving far from the glitzy shopping districts and architectural showpieces, away from cool city-centre living and modish cultural centres, this book shows us the unheralded, under-appreciated and overlooked parts of Greater Manchester in which the majority of Mancunians live, work and play. It tells the story of the city thematically, using concepts such a 'material', 'atmosphere', 'waste', 'movement' and 'underworld' to challenge our understanding of the quintessential post-industrial metropolis.

Bringing together contributions from twenty-five poets, academics, writers, novelists, historians, architects and artists from across the region alongside a range of captivating photographs, this book explores the history of Manchester through its chimneys, cobblestones, ginnels and graves. This wide-ranging and inclusive approach reveals a host of idiosyncrasies, hidden spaces and stories that have until now been neglected.


'Dobraszczyk and Butler have gathered together a set of excavations and forgagings which piece together very different visions of the towns and developments and rivers and canals and in-between spaces that make up the disjointed, uneven, ever-changing city of Manchester. Here, in the book's exploration of undervalued urban spaces, readers will find the traces of other futures, snickets and ginnels, a rumour of salmon, slow-worms appearing in old brickworks, the amazing story of the city's hibakujumoko trees, and myriad other transplantations and spaces that twenty-first-century time has passed by.'
John McAuliffe, poet and Reader of Creative Writing and Modern Literature, University of Manchester

'Manchester: Something rich and strange epitomises everything that is wonderful about this great city. The book tells the story of Manchester's past and present in a unique and engaging way, bringing together a variety of contributors from a variety of different backgrounds.'
Michala Hulme, author of A grim almanac of Manchester and Bloody British history: Manchester'

'It is a book like the city; bold, brash, and gobby, moving from morbid self-pity to delirious triumph in mere moments. A guided tour where they pull up the floorboards and let you see what lies beneath.'
Manchester Review of Books

'There's strong material in this ragbag of themed think-pieces - Rose recalling the attack which prompted her to reclaim the streets from her nightmares; Kalu conjuring the realities of Manchester's sewer system with unnerving brio; Tim Edensor on the sources of municipal cobble stone; Hanson on the ubiquity of facades in post-modern, post-Factory Records Manchester - plus Simon Buckley's celebrated 'iPhone Lowry' on the cover and a good helping of Dobraszczyk's magnificently crisp photography.'

Manchester Confidential


Introduction - Manchester: seeing like a city

Spirit - Morag Rose
Feel - Sean R. Mills
Corridor - Sarah Butler
Chimney - Jonathan Silver
Night - Nick Dunn
Moors - Cassie Britland

Statue - Natalie Bradbury
Museum - Jonathan Silver
Shopping centre - Martin Dodge
Stained glass - Clare Hartwell
Sculpture - Natalie Bradbury

Exchange - Steve Hanson
Stone - Tim Edensor
Ring road - Nick Dunn
Loop - Natalie Bradbury
Bus stop - Peter Kalu
Walk - Morag Rose

Cotton - Martin Dodge
Brick - James Thorp
Co-op - Natalie Bradbury
Newspaper - Natalie Bradbury
Car wash - Peter Kalu

Medieval - Clare Hartwell
Railway - Brian Rosa
Stadium - Tim Edensor
Hair - Jenna C. Ashton
Baths - Matthew Steele

Sewer - Peter Kalu
Arches - Brian Rosa
Grave - Cassie Britland
Violence - Andrew McMillan
Prison - Cassie Britland

Dye - James Thorp
Arsenic - Becky Alexis-Martin
Shadows - Nick Dunn
Rhythm - Joanne Hudson
Ruins - Tim Edensor
Redundant - Matthew Steele

Facade - Steve Hanson
Cloister - Clare Archibald
Thread - Jenna C. Ashton
Radium - Becky Alexis-Martin
Passage - Paul Dobraszczyk
Cobble - Tim Edensor

Wildscape - Joanne Hudson
Edges - Nick Dunn
Ginkgo - Becky Alexis-Martin
Canal - Morag Rose
Gardens - Matthew Steele

Flower - Sarah Sayeed
Bee - Paul Dobraszczyk
Riot - Sarah Butler
Atom - Steve Hanson
Tudor - Paul Dobraszczyk

Homeless - Steve Hanson
B&B - Sarah Butler
Synagogue - Jonathan Silver
Mosque - Qaisra Shahraz
Immigrant - Qaisra Shahraz
Laundrette - Peter Kalu

Notes on contributors
Photo acknowledgements


Paul Dobraszczyk is a researcher and writer based in Manchester and a Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. He is the author of Future Cities: Architecture and the Imagination (2019) and The Dead City: Urban Ruins and the Spectacle of Decay (2017).

Sarah Butler is a novelist and Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. She is the author of Jack & Bet (2020) and Ten Things I've Learnt About Love: A Novel (2014) and explores the relationship between writing and place through her consultancy UrbanWords.

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