Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week comes from an era before social distancing when thousands of Mancunians crowded into Piccadilly for a close-up view of a Lancaster bomber.

The date is late August 1945 and Japan has just surrendered, signalling the end of World War II.

The reason for the gathering was a War Savings Campaign to support the war effort and immediate rebuilding for peacetime.

The locally built Avro Lancaster heavy bomber was a descendant of the twin-engined Avro Manchester developed in the 1930s.

Powered by four Rolls Royce Merlin engines, the Lancaster first saw service with Bomber Command in 1942. It quickly became the main aircraft for night-time raids.

Lancasters dropped 608,612 tons of bombs during the war, flying no less than 156,000 sorties. The Lancaster’s long bomb bay enabled it to carry the RAF’s largest explosives, including the 12,000 lb Tall Boy and 22,000 lb Grand Slam bombs.

Half the 7,000 Lancasters built were constructed at Avro’s Woodford (Stockport) factory and at Chadderton (Oldham). Around 700 Lancasters were produced at the company’s shadow factory at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

The Yorkshire factory was the largest building in Europe at the time, covering 1.5 million square feet. Its roof was heavily disguised by the addition of fields and hedges to confuse enemy planes.

Lancasters were most famously modified to carry the ‘Bouncing Bomb’ designed by Barnes Wallis to attack the Ruhr Valley dams in Operation Chastise in May 1943.