Fascinating Vintage Snapshots of Manchester in the ‘80s

In the early 1980s, several traditional and local industries were declining and many of them were closed under the radical economic restructuring often known as Thatcherism. “In the decade from 1979, when Mrs Thatcher applied ‘monetarism’,” said one commentator. “94 percent of all job losses occurred north of a line drawn from the Wash to the Severn. Of the manufacturing jobs lost, 70 percent were from the North.” The city, however, was also developed rapidly in the 1980s. On November 5, 1980, Manchester became a nuclear-free city. It was a progressive gesture but largely symbolic.

There were many physical changes in the eighties as well. The city center was contracted and became a shadow of its nineteenth-century self. The abandoned Central Station was converted into the Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre (now Manchester Central) in 1982. It was also during this decade that Chinatown came into its own and the Gay Village eventually became reality instead of mere fantasy. The Museum of Science and Industry opened in 1983 and Castlefield was brought back to active life. Then came the opening of The Jewish Museum in 1984 and The Chinese Arts Centre in 1986. In order to renovate former warehouse areas and canal basins, The Central Manchester Development Corporation was created in 1988.
Take a look back at the city in the 1980s through 26 fascinating vintage snapshots from the Visual Resources Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections and Manchester Archives Plus:

Piccadilly Gardens, 1980


Central Station, 1980


Hollings Building, 1980


St Mary’s Gate, 1980


View along St Mary’s Gate towards Market Street, around 1980


Oxford Street Cinemas, 1982


Rotter’s night club, formerly the Gaumont cinema on Oxford Street, 1982


Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, 1983


The Wellington Inn and Sinclair’s Oyster Bar in Shambles Square, 1983


Shambles Square, 1983


St Ann’s Square, 1984


Tib Street, 1984


Corner of Hilton Street, 1984


Demo, Albert Square, 1984


The Grosvenor Picture Palace building at All Saints, 1985


St Peter’s Square Gardens, 1985


Manchester Arndale Centre, 1985


Manchester Arndale Centre, 1985


Manchester Arndale Centre, 1985


Demolition of flats on the HulmeMoss Side border, 1985


Piccadilly Gardens, 1986


Santa on Manchester Town Hall, 1986


Chinatown, 1987


The former Picture House cinema on Oxford Street, 1987


Rotter’s night club, formerly the Gaumont cinema on Oxford Street, 1987


Market Street and the Arndale Centre, 1989