Cheetham Hill; much more than the counterfeit capital of the UK

With praise from renowned food critic Jay Rayner, a unique grade II listed museum and beautiful green spaces - it's time to change the negative perception Cheetham Hill has garnered.

As a destination Cheetham Hill is an often overlooked part of Manchester. The imposing structure of Strangeways prison that looms over its landscape has understandably created an uneasy atmosphere and has gained a bad reputation that is not helped by also being known as the “counterfeit capital of the UK”.

On the face of it, it may seem like there isn’t much to explore. However, if you venture over to Cheetham Hill and scratch the surface, you will find an abundance of hidden gems and culture waiting for you to explore. Traditionally a Jewish neighbourhood, over the years Cheetham Hill has become “the most diverse postcode in the UK” with an influx of other religions and cultures.

I spent a day exploring the area, here’s some of what I found along the way that you should definitely check out…

 

Partisan Collective
“Partisan is a space for independent, community led, DIY and cultural based projects in Manchester”. Partisan is a democratically owned project where members look after and run the venue. There are regular great nights on that offer an eclectic variety of techno, disco, house, ambient and more. Away from the nights, there is an abundance of activities for everyone. Unique events such as ‘activist skill-share’, ‘drone yoga’ and ‘crafternoons’ (DIY craft help) are held regularly at Partisan. Always at the heart of what they do is the community – become a member and you can always contribute your ideas on improving Manchester and the local area.

More info

Partisan, 19 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, M4 4FY

 

The Spärrows
Okay so this one’s not actually in Cheetham Hill but it’s close enough and is definitely worth a mention. Tucked away under the arches near Victoria Station,  The Spärrows has recently been hailed as ‘Manchester’s Glorious Carb-fest’ by renowned food critic Jay Rayner, serving up handmade European pasta and dumpling dishes. They create dishes from a large geographical area, so expect ravioli and pierogis all in one sitting. It’s only a 12-seater restaurant so you might have to try your luck getting a seat.

Book a table

The Spärrows, Unit 3, Mirabel Street, Manchester, M3 1PJ

 

Three Rivers Gin
The first gin distillery in modern Manchester and inspired by the rich history of craftsmanship and the water ways that made it possible to transport goods. There’s a gin experience tour, where you’ll learn more about the history of gin and the diverse flavours within – did someone say free bottle after the tour as well?

Book a Gin Experience

Manchester Three Rivers, 21 Red Bank Parade, Manchester, M4 4HF

 

Pirate Studios
Do you have a burning passion for music? Want a place to hone your skills? Pirate Studios have just opened a new Cheetham Hill location. With state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of space for practice it’s time to re-tune that guitar and re-ignite the dream. Anyone can book out a studio from as little as £4 per hour and it’s really easy to do on their website. With Pirate Studios facing the Joseph Holt brewery, you know those post-practise pints will be of the highest quality.

Book a studio

Pirate Studios, Augustus St, Cheetham Hill, M3 1HZ

 

DarBar
Authentic Persian food that the Persian community from around Manchester come to enjoy. Many of my Persian friends recommended this restaurant, praising it for its authenticity and flavoursome dishes. Sort of sandwiched in the middle of other restaurants this one takes a keen-eye to find.

DarBar, 135 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester M8 8LY
0161 224 4392

 

The Jewish Museum
A beautiful Grade II listed building, that was originally a Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Immerse yourself in the Jewish history of Manchester in what is the only Jewish museum outside of London.

More info

Manchester Jewish Museum, 90 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, M8 8LW
0161 834 9879

 

Choupan
Traditional Afghani food, that is regularly recommended by the community on Cheetham Hill. The Qabili Pilau is apparently a particular highlight.

This is regularly recommended by the locals and with it being one of the highest scoring restaurants on TripAdvisor, everyone else seems to agree. Although modestly decorated, this adds to the charm and it really is an indication of Cheetham Hill – to not judge a book by its cover. If you are looking to try authentic Afghani food, this is a must. The dishes may not be familiar to many, but it’s well worth trying with a similar flavour profile to Persian cuisine with added hints of Indian spices due to its close trading routes.

Choupan, 414 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester M8 9LE
0161 740 2914

 

Hidden
Some of the best DJs in the world in an industrial estate adjacent to Strangeways. Sounds unusual when you phrase it like that, but that’s exactly what Hidden has to offer. Now a fixture for anyone into their electronic-based music you’ll find regular stellar line-ups every weekend of university term times, with their day and night parties becoming particularly legendary in most circles in the city.

More info

Hidden, 16 – 18 Mary Street, Manchester, M3 1NH

 

Alif Grill
Cheap eats champion. A favourite in the Manchester’s Finest office and very popular in Cheetham Hill. Their speciality are generously sized, well-priced, high-quality kebabs. (I’ve heard the halloumi is something special too) What’s more you can get it delivered straight to your door so roll them sleeves up and enjoy the nation’s favourite – a kebab.

More info

Alif Grill, 105 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester, M3 1NH

 

Private White V.C.
Located on the banks of the River Irwell is a 100 year old textile mill, the home of this luxury menswear brand. Everything is handmade at this factory using traditional methods. You can book to have a fascinating tour around the factory and its free! You get a rare insight into manufacturing processes. There’s a shop at the end of it too for those feeling flush!

Book a tour of the factory

Private White V.C. Factory Store, Cottenham House, 1 Cottenham Lane, Manchester. M3 7LJ

 

Parks / Walks
For those looking to slow the pace of life down and admire more natural beauty in the area, Cheetham Hill is home to a number of green spaces perfect for a relaxed stroll. Two notable parks to visit are Queens Park and the aptly named Cheetham Park if you’re looking to escape the inner-city grind.

 

Many of these locations are towards the Green Quarter area of Cheetham Hill Road, but, this is surely an indication that it’s only going to get better in the future. Manchester Council has confirmed that Cheetham Hill is firmly in its plans for re-development – looking to improve the entire area.

There are plenty of stunning red brick buildings that line the way, I hope they don’t feel the need to rip them down completely and lose some of the area’s character. As the development works its way up the hill, it’s bound to bring different people together. However, Cheetham Hill has established communities and is no stranger to welcoming new people.

Cheetham Hill’s reputation is certainly out-dated. When I was there I felt a warm community that is truly diverse and thriving. Fresh fruit and veg stores lined the sides of the road, people were sat back enjoying the day pass by outside coffee shops, and relaxing in the small parks. It felt like a tight-knit community – something I miss when I’m trapped in the middle of the city centre.

I can say that I am proudly going to become a member of the Partisan Collective, and will be supporting the community of Cheetham Hill.

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