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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
The Street
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Travel to Manchester


Northern Quarter, Manchester

1 November 2014

Words: Gareth Rees / Images: REM

Manchester’s Northern Quarter didn’t exist as a distinct neighbourhood until the late 20th century. Its red brick buildings and warehouses are reminders of Manchester’s 19th century heyday when it was at the centre of the global cotton and textile trade, but the neighbourhood is a product of 1990s urban regeneration. Like London’s Shoreditch and Hoxton, which both underwent similar “gentrification” at the tail end of the last century, it has become a magnet for young creatives and entrepreneurs. 

The Northern Quarter is home to Affleck’s Palace, a former department store turned multi-level market incorporating more than 60 independent stores; some of the city’s best independent record stores; popular music venues such as Tib Street jazz club Matt & Phred’s; the not-for-profit performance and event space 2022NQ; and numerous cafés, galleries, restaurants, bars and boutiques. But whereas its southern counterparts have come to be associated with the much-maligned “hipster”, the Northern Quarter has managed to preserve its distinctly northern down-to-earth character.


The Northern Quarter boasts a similar concentration of independent stores as London’s Covent Garden, so it’s not surprising that Marc Valli and Montse Ortuno, who opened the original incarnation of their Magma bookshop on London’s Earlham Street in 2000, have a branch on the neighbourhood’s Oldham Street. The small shop sells posters and prints, stationary, games and numerous other bits and pieces, but its focus is still, thankfully, art books and independent magazines. If you are partial to either, or both, take a large tote bag. 

22 Oldham Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 236 8777

Piccadilly Records

The original Piccadilly Records opened in 1978, and the shop has existed in several different locations over the past 26 years. The store has been in its current location on Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter since 1997, and is one of the most popular independent record stores in a neighbourhood beloved of vinyl junkies. 

Known for its eclectic selection of vinyl, its knowledgeable staff and its popular website, which features insightful staff reviews, Piccadilly Records is popular with both visiting and Manchester-based collectors, including local DJ and loyal customer Mr Scruff. 

53 Oldham Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 839 8008

Manchester Craft & Design Centre

A fine example of adaptive reuse, this converted Victorian fish and poultry market, owned by Manchester City Council, has been dedicated to local craft since the early 1980s. It is now home to more than 30 artists and artisans selling handmade items. 

Whether it’s a greeting card hand-painted by Laura Richardson, a pair of earrings designed by Tracey Birchwood or a soft toy from Harriet Godden’s Sausage Dog studio, anything you pick up at Manchester Craft & Design Centre will be unique and local. The centre also hosts exhibitions, events and workshops, and is home to the popular Oak Street Café Bar. 

17 Oak Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 832 4274 

Northern Flower

Proving that the Northern Quarter has every creative base covered, Northern Flower is a boutique flower shop tucked away on Tin Street. This endearing little shop stocks an impressive range of indoor and outdoor plants, seasonal and tropical flowers and hand-tied bouquets. If you’re looking to surprise someone special, or you have forgotten a birthday or anniversary, Northern Flower offers a same-day delivery service. 

58 Tin Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 832 7731

Richard Goodall Gallery

Richard Goodall Gallery has two locations in the Northern Quarter ¬ the other, opened in 2007, is on High Street, but the Thomas Street gallery, which has been operating since 2000, is the original. The gallery specialises in music and movie posters, designer vinyl toys, prints, homewares and greetings cards. 

All of the items are for sale, and the gallery stocks work by contemporary artists including UK-based designer Brendan Dawes, contemporary pop artist Donald Topp, Grammy Award-winning artist Rob Jones and Canadian visual artist Dana Wyse. 

59 Thomas Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 832 3435

Almost Famous

If you crave a patty in a bun in the Northern Quarter, Almost Famous, the two-floor American-style diner-cocktail bar on the corner of High Street and Edge Street, is the only place to enjoy a “big, dirty burger”, according to one particularly zealous local. 

Almost Famous has another Manchester branch, as well as outposts in Liverpool and Leeds, but the Northern Quarter is the true home of the Baddaboom, the Chilli Chilli Chilli Cheeseburger, the Animal Burger and the Butter Blood & Bleu – all of which involve forcing far more deliciously unwholesome ingredients than is advisable between two halves of bun. Almost Famous doesn’t take bookings, is closed on Mondays and is guaranteed to be busy, but you should not leave Manchester without paying a visit. Good luck. 

101-102 High Street
Northern Quarter

North Tea Power

The Northern Quarter is not short of quality cafés – Fig + Sparrow on Oldham Street and DJ Mr Scruff’s Teacup Kitchen on Thomas Street are also worth a visit– and they all have their own unique charms. North Tea Power’s USP is, surprisingly considering the name, its excellent coffee. 

The white walls, chalkboards, industrial-style light shades and wooden floors and furniture make for a stylish setting, but it’s the near perfect cappuccino that attracts the locals. 

36 Tib Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 833 3073

Oi Polloi

Oi Polloi is one of the Northern Quarter’s best-known shops. Opened in 2002 by local lads Steve Sanderson and Nigel Lawson, the menswear boutique is so revered that it is not unknown for men to travel to Manchester solely to replenish their wardrobes with shirts from French brand A.P.C. or Scottish designer Cathal McAteer of Folk, socks from Germany’s Falke, a sweater from Swedish brand Fjällräven or a ‘Made For Japan’ Barbour jacket.

Finding some of these brands at all can be hard, finding them all on the rails of one small shop is a dream for any stylish man in a hurry. 

63 Thomas Street
Northern Quarter
Tel: +44 161 831 7781