How one of Manchester’s best-known streets has changed in the last 80 years

Welcome to Then and Now – the brand new feature where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look in 2017. This week it’s the turn of King Street, the smart bustling thoroughfare at the heart of the city.

Our first photo shows King Street frozen in time from Sunday, November 1, 1936. Being Manchester, it has been raining. The pavements are glistening and people are walking around with raincoats and hats.

Workmen are busy refitting the Samuels shop behind screens and blinds. You can see the ladder propped up against the window.

There was an altogether different pace of life to King Street then. Now, along with Bridge Street, much of King Street is regarded as Manchester’s most upmarket shopping area. Fashionable shops, restaurants and cafés abound. Soap stars and celebs are often snapped by photographers heading for the top venues and nightspots.

king street

Many of the buildings familiar in 1936 survive today. King Street was the centre of the north-west banking industry and retains the impressive facades and frontages of its financial past.

These include the Grade I-listed former Bank of England Manchester branch, built in 1845 and designed by Charles Robert Cockerell, and the Manchester Reform Club (1870) by Edward Salomons.

king street, current photo

There’s a famous rhyme about King Street in Roger Oldham’s Manchester Alphabet of 1906. It goes like this:

There’s King Street
And there’s King Street South
And also King Street West,
They each of them begin with K,
I know which I like best –
The one in which the cake shop is –
Let’s go inside and rest.

Unmissable pictures like these – and many more like them – feature in Clive Hardy’s latest book Around Manchester in the 1960s. The book is available to order priced £14.99 (plus £2.99 p&p).