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

This week our image shows models Sue Dexter, left, and Jane Powell sporting the latest trends for the Manchester Festival of May 1973.

They were taking part in the Fashion Spectacular section of the event, designed to highlight Manchester’s textile heritage and hopes for the future.

The location is fitting too – just off St Ann’s Square, for two centuries the home of Manchester’s Cotton Exchange.

At this time of year, St Ann’s Square is a prime spot for visiting Manchester’s ever-popular Christmas market when the area is crammed with stalls and traders.


The origins of the square date back to 1708 when an Act of Parliament decreed that St Ann’s Church could be built and that a space 30 yards wide should be reserved for the fair. The church was consecrated in July 1712.

Now pedestrianised, St Ann’s Square is at the centre of Manchester’s shopping heartland and is the home of the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Cross Street Chapel in the square was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing in December 1940 and a new building constructed in 1959. The current structure dates from 1997.

St Ann’s Church was fortunate to escape damage in the Manchester Blitz of December 1940 and still contains a burnt-out incendiary bomb that fell on to the roof.