Saturday, 6 April 2013

'A Grand day out' - Manchester return match dry run (not so dry!)

Following our successful Grand Day Out on 19th January in Chester (see the blog Here ), the Manchester contingent organised a 'return match' for today. Unfortunately none of the Mersyside / Deeside revellers could attend, so we Mancunians had a 'dry run'. Well, a run anyway; it wasn't really very dry!

Myself, Malc, Ivan, and John used the 88 bus to Wilmslow station this morning, and as we walked onto the platform the 09:57 to Manchester Piccadilly rolled in - perfect timing! A good omen for the rest of the day, we thought. A packed Manchester shuttle bus (full of folk going to a Manchester Central bakery event, fer heaven's sake!) took us to the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry, where by coincidence I'd been firing the steam loco 'Agecroft No.1' yesterday.

Photos mostly by John. Please click on a picture for a larger image.

One of the many mill engines in the power hall at MoSI. This is a tandem compound engine built in Rochdale, the Corliss valve gear visible here on the side of the high pressure cylinder.

Manchester had a hydraulic power system that was distributed throughout the city. It was used to compress cotton bales in the many warehouses, and to power cranes and lifts - and even to raise the weights in the town hall clock. It was operative until the early 1970s.

One of the pumps for the hydraulic power system, which operated at over 1,100 psi.

Malc and me take a look at a sectioned Isle of Man steam locomotive

Here's an old friend - 'Planet', a 1992-built replica of Robert Stephenson's 2-2-0 tender engines built in 1830 for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. This is an engine I regularly fire and often drive on the MoSI railway.

Today it was Lauren's turn to fire 'Agecroft', and to chat to Ivan between runs up and down the line

We didn't have time to see anything more of MoSI today than the Power Hall, so we'll have to come back another time to see such exhibits as the Air & Space Hall, Textiles & Cotton, and a working replica of the world's first real computer, 'Baby', built at Manchester University in 1948. We left the Museum and used another shuttle bus to take us up to the top of Deansgate, where we made our way to The Old Wellington Inn, which was physically moved to its present site when the area it originally occupied was developed following the IRA bomb attack on the city in the 1990s.

It's a lovely sunny day and central Manchester is at its best as Malc leads us towards the 'Wellington', where most drinkers are outside enjoying the sunshine. We sat outside with our pints at a table of football addicts from Sweden, who had come over for a couple of matches. They were having a good time, and tried to persuade us to try 'Snus' , a form of tobacco which is held between upper teeth and lips inside the mouth. Even our smoker, Malc, wasn't up for that!

The history of The Wellington (click on the picture for a larger image)

After a pint at the Wellington, we walked through St Annes Square to Sam's Chop House. The beer was good in this crowded venue, but a £3.70 a pint we crossed it off our list. Ivan, me, and Malc pose outside for a 'team photo'.

This is more like it! A down-to-earth honest Holts pub in John Dalton Street just off Albert Square, the Ape & Apple. Lovely Holts bitter for £2.35 a pint, and plenty of room to sit down. A gem! Ivan, our kitty holder, gets a round in at the bar.

Malc, me & Ivan in the 'Ape & Apple'

By now it was mid afternoon and we were getting hungry, so we set off past the magnificent Town Hall, the Central Library, across St Peter's Square, on to Oxford Road to the Chinese Buffet restaurant we last visited late last year, on another 'Grand Day Out'. Lovely pork belly, duck, ribs and lots of other dishes are available on a help yourself basis. Delicious, but not the healthiest food option in town!

Replete, we headed up Portland Street to another good Holts pub, The Old Monkey where we shared a table with a couple from Horwich who had attended the Baking Event at Manchester Central. This is where we learnt what event it was that was packing the city's shuttle buses between there and Piccadilly Station, as we discovered was still the case when we caught such a bus from here back to the station, where we had a quick look at a potential meeting place for foreign contingents joining us on future Grand Days Out.

Checked but rejected as being a bit of a fizz palace, this pub near Piccadilly station

As we entered Piccadilly station, a train to Alderley Edge was about to depart. Malc set off hot-foot up the platform and leaped aboard, despite the fact we'd lost Ivan at this point. John and I held back expecting Malc to realise he was alone and get off. He didn't. The door warning beepers sounded, the doors slid shut, and the train glided off with just one quarter of our contingent on board.

The remaining three quarters ambled across to an adjacent platform and boarded a train for Crewe via the Styal line which left a few minutes later and ran via the Airport. We had a more scenic trip home that way although the first half of the journey is mainly views of urban back gardens, but that in itself can be quite interesting.

John phoned Malc to suggest that we meet in the Bollin Fee in Wilmslow, and that as Malc would arrive first, and had abandoned the troops in an alien city while himself making a dash for freedom, he should line 'em up for us in The Fee!

He failed in that too! But never mind, the beer was good and well priced so we had a pint there before my wife arrived to drive us all home.

This sign, just near The Bollin Fee, seemed quite amusing after several pints!

So ended another Grand Day Out. Well up to standard, a great time was had by all, and we look forward to the next time the Old Gits venture out without Nurse to keep them in order.

1 comment:

  1. It's usually very busy, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, but you should try my current city centre favourite beer haunt, Vince. The Port Street Beer House has a fantastic selection and very knowledgeable staff. Not the cheapest I will grant you but a wider range you're not likely to find.