17 December 2010

The Yellow Platform and The Orange Man

The yellow platform and the orange man

Two days ago I looked out of the large floor to ceiling window that takes up roughly half of my living room-cum-office-cum-kitchen's external wall and was shocked to see a cherry picker platform being manoeuvred up the side of one of the burnt out 1960's residential towers that occupy 'New East Manchester.' The tower in question, a 14-storey concrete frame, brick-clad specimen, has had broken windows, fire damaged walls and boarded up lower floors for the duration of the 18 months I have spent living in 'New Islington' and I suspect it has been in this sorry state for a lot longer. (This particular tower marks the end of the Ancoats/New Islington project and the start of Miles Platting). The site of a lone workman, dressed in orange fluorescent clothing - obviously to draw attention to the fact that something is being done - only exasperates the desolate nature of this abandoned object as it looms over the very much inhabited two-storey semi-detached properties below.

Tower blocks of East Manchester

Panning back you begin to see more blocks rising out of "New East" Manchester, many of which are in an equally sorry state of repair. To the extreme left you can just make out the refurbished "Three Towers" (Christabel in this case - interestingly they were all renamed for Pankhursts of suffragette fame), a "Hi-Style" development in the Irk Valley by Urban Splash where the external walkways and balconies have all been enclosed in timber panels. At the extreme right, just out of shot from my window, lies Sport City where the majority of the 2002 Commonwealth Games took place, it is currently awaiting an injection of investment from Abu Dhabi. In between lie areas like Miles Platting and Beswick, where the peripheries appear populated but the inner zones  seem devoid at times of anything except 'green space' and boarded up council houses. The 60's tower blocks rise out from a sea of semis and scattered islands of trees (the view is made 'greener' by the substantial green corridor that is the Irk Valley that extends from the city centre to the city outskirts) that, with the Victorian Mills of even grander scale, form a city silhouette that has changed little in 40 years. It will take a lot more than one orange man and his yellow platform for that to change.