Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

UNDERGROUND MANCHESTER MAPPED OUT ... Beth Abbit

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

UNDERGROUND MANCHESTER MAPPED OUT ... Beth Abbit

Article excerpt

THE underground rivers, tunnels, shelters, mines and subterranean spaces of Manchester lie just inches from our feet - but remain unseen.

Everything from nuclear bunkers to the Joy Division master tapes has been discovered just below the surface of the city.

Thousands of people tread the tarmac and cobbles above Manchester's hidden underground world every day, but even the proudest of Mancunians could be forgiven for not knowing it was there.

Fascinated by this hidden world, Mark Cross-field has spent six years researching and developing a comprehensive underground map of the city.

Mark, from Chorlton, said his interest started as a hobby and developed into an obsession which has captured his imagination for years.

It took the software developer - who previously worked in the IT department at the Manchester Evening News - around four months to design and create the comprehensive Hidden Manchester map.

He said: "If you scratch the surface just a little bit there's a whole new world.

"I used to work at the M.E.N back when there was a cable fire in one of the tunnels in Manchester. There was some talk about where the fire would have been and that sparked my interest in underground Manchester.

"I started to pick up bits of information here and there. I found an online forum full of various rumours about the various underground features and it turned into a hobby, or perhaps a bad habit."

The map includes details and pictures of all sorts of underground features, including the cemetery below Victoria Station, the Piccadilly air raid shelter and the vault at Jamie's Italian - where the Joy Division master tapes were allegedly discovered.

But Mark says his biggest fascination lies with the Guardian Telephone Exchange, a 1950s nuclear bunker designed to safeguard cold war communications. When built, it was such a secret that it was classified under a 'D Notice' to prevent the media from writing about it.

Mark said: "It's probably my favourite because there's an element of subterfuge about it.

"The Victoria arches area around the cathedral is very interesting too. That whole area and Victoria Station - there are so many levels and layers of history. The Victorians built on top of the old city."

Here are some of the subterranean features: SKITTLE ALLEY AND TUNNEL AT NEW Cathedral Street Beneath Harvey Nichols are cellars and passages dating back centuries. The tunnel connected up to various parts of the old market place and was at times used as an underground skittle alley, while Goulburn's food shop used the tunnel space as a cheese store.

VICTORIA STATION AND THE VICTORIA ARCHES Human remains in the former Walker's Croft burial ground under Manchester Victoria station were exhumed when Victoria Station was redeveloped. Hundreds of poor families were buried under the rail platforms and buildings, many having fallen victim to Victorian cholera epidemics. …

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