Exploring Manchester’s forgotten buildings with the Derelict Explorer

Mattew Holmes is a Manchester lad who never really grew out of his inquisitive phase. He spends his time exploring the lengths and depths of Britain to find abandoned and derelict buildings frozen in time.

By Manchester's Finest | 30 November 2017

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Now I know the question you all must be asking: How does he get permission? Well, he doesn’t. But he never breaks and enters and instead takes the opportunity of an open window or an open door instead. And he is not opposed to climbing walls or shimmying up a drain pipe or two. Proper bad boy Matt is.

Head over to Matthew’s Facebook page and spend a while looking through the fantastic photographs of various locations. Some of them you will walk past every day on your commute and never turn a blind eye, others are full of artefacts frozen in time, and others look like the set of a Japanese slasher film. Below are a few of our favourites:

Brinksway Air Raid Shelter, Stockport
Opened in 1939 to serve as a World War Two air raid shelter in Stockport. One of three air Raid Shelters in Stockport along with Chestergate and Dodge Hill, Brinksway held up to 6,500 people who sought refuge from the German bombs above during an air raid. Stockport was bombed heavily by the Germans with the Luftwaffe aiming for the industrial mills and factories in the area.
The air raid shelter holds a memorial to those that suffered and those that experienced this horrendous time for Britain, and now the tunnels are empty, cold and lifeless.

The Church, Ancoats
The Church is designed by William Haley for the Church of England with building works beginning in 1839. The style of the build is Romanesque with brown brick and stonework. Grade II Listed, it has apparently seen better days. In total disrepair, Matt had to be careful of the bowing floor which he fell through on one occasion.

In 1980 the Church closed its doors to religion, and an independent joinery workshop was set up in the front part of the church. The rear is still left as it was when the building was a Church however the roof has now collapsed. The building closed for good in 1984 and is currently a place where nightmares are made.

Bennett House, George Street
Opened in 1860, Bennet House is located on the south corner of Princess Street and Mosley Street just teetering on the edge of China Town. Constructed of red brick with stone window ledges, this Victorian building was initially used as a trade warehouse from 1860 to the 1920’s. From the 1920’s onwards the building was converted to a bank with many different banks acquiring the ground floor from the 1920’s up to present day from The Royal Bank of Scotland to Lloyds to finally Sonali Bank of Bangladesh. The building is Grade II Listed and has survived the redevelopment programme of St Peter’s Square. Since 2009 the building has been empty awaiting its fate.

Hotspur Press
Opened in 1849 the building mill producing cotton and textiles up until 1982 when Percy Brothers limited, a printing press company bought the building. The company ceased printing in 2011 and Percy Brothers Limited sold to a private investor. In recent years the building has been occupied by artists and has even been used to stage musical entertainment up until this year when the building closed for good. Since the building’s closure after 168 years of being open, the building was taken over by squatters until their eviction; the building is now back to being a vacant time warp.

Stevenson Square Underground Toilets
These underground toilets are located underneath Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter. A small brick building with concrete steps running down into the underground toilets split into male and female. Due to high maintenance, the bathrooms served the public until 1986 when they closed, and the entrances were bricked up. Shame might stop the NQ alleyways stinking of piss on Saturday Nights if they opened them back up.

Fun Fact: Matt has been known for passing off other people’s photos as his own, but I think we might take his word for this one… its proper creepy down there.

The Toast Rack, Fallowfield
Opened in 1960, The Toast Rack Building was the first building of its kind entering a new age of architecture with concrete towers beginning to grow across Manchester after the WWII. The building was built originally for the Domestic Trades College before becoming part of the Manchester Polytechnic University, now Manchester Metropolitan University. The construction gains its name due to its distinctive design which looks very much like a Toast Rack… funnily enough.

The building gained Grade II Listed Status (…yeah I know…) in 1998 the first of its type following the post-war architecture boom which began in the 1960’s. Made with a concrete frame and a brick infill on the bottom half of each storey this seven-story building is pretty infamous.