Oxford Road is one of Manchester’s main throughfares. It starts at St. Peter’s Square in the heart of the city and runs very much like a straight line into the city’s southern suburbs. Dubbed ‘the Corridor’, Oxford Road is home to Manchester’s two universities, the BBC offices, various architectural gems and a host of splendid theatres and museums.
Things to see and do on a walk along Oxford Road
I started my walk at the Manchester Town Hall. The first thing that struck me was the stately elegance of the many Victorian era buildings in Manchester. The Town Hall, with its many arches and pointy windows, is a brilliant example of the Victorian Gothic Revival style. As I crossed into Oxford Road, I found many more magnificent specimens such as The Principal Hotel that was designed by Alfred Waterhouse. If you’re not staying in this gorgeous hotel, have a look inside anyway – the domed ceiling in the lobby area is stunning.
The universities located along Oxford Road provide a youthful buzz to a street that is steeped in history – this illustrious street was where Karl Marx wrote his earliest thoughts on the Communist theory, the atom was first split and the first modern computer was born. Throngs of students crowd the street and the many shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants are geared mostly at the student populace. There’s also a vibrant cultural scene; during my walk, I passed the Dancehouse (a lovely art Deco building), the Capitol Theatre and the Contact Theatre (an extraordinary factory-like building).
The Manchester Museum is situated in the heart of the university precinct and is absolutely worth a visit. The exhibits on animal life, world cultures, ancient Egypt and Mediterranean archaeology are magnificent. There’s also an insightful exhibition on the life of Charles Darwin (runs till August 2010). Don’t forget to grab the free ‘Amazing Facts’ booklet at the entrance – did you know that the Hercules beetle is the strongest creature on earth, capable of carrying up to 80 times its own body weight? 🙂 I can also recommend a stroll around the university precinct with its historic monuments such as the gorgeous John Owens building.
The Whitworth Art Gallery is located further down the road from the Manchester Museum. Housed in a lovely red-brick building, the museum is particularly noted for its beautiful collections of wallpapers, sculptures and textiles. I’ve never given much thought to the cultural significance of wallpaper until I visited the Whitworth’s ‘Walls Are Talking’ exhibition. An absolute eye-opener!
It’s about a two mile walk from the Town Hall along Oxford Road to the Whitworth Art Gallery but you can easily plan it as a leisurely afternoon stroll. Stop and admire the stunning Victorian architecture, visit the fascinating museums (entrance is free), grab some tickets at any of the theatres and rest your feet at any of the cafe’s or pubs along the way (I can recommend the café at the Whitworth for a light lunch and the nearby Kro Bar for a well-deserved beer). If you’re too tired to walk back, frequent buses will whizz you back into the city centre in ten minutes.
Note: my trip to Manchester was sponsored by Creative Tourist. Download Creative Tourist’s free Cultural Guide to Manchester iPhone app.