Culture & Lifestyle

C astlefield’s social scene is steeped in history. There are pubs here dating back to the 1700s, national popular culture has been created here and festivals take place every year. We’ve hosted political rallies, internationally acclaimed musicians and welcomed sporting heroes.

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  • 1. The Canal Festival: 1988 – 2015
  • 2. The Hit Factory: 1858 – 2017
  • 3. D-Percussion: 1997 – 2007
  • 4. Castlefield Food Festival: 2015 – 2017
  • 5. Castlefield Forum: 2007 – To Date
  • 6. Lights, Camera, Action! 1956, 1995 – 2003
  • 7. G.W.R. Horses & The May Day Parade: c1900
  • 8. Drinks for the Hospital: 1905 – 1999
  • 9. Roll Up, Roll Up, For the Fair: 1823 – 1876
  • 10. The Olympic Bid: 1993
  • 11. Heroes Return: 2016
  • 12. A Place of Protest: 1901 – 2015
  • 13. The Pubs of Castlefield: c1930
  • 14. The Stables Theatre: 1968 – 1971
  • 15. Cheering on the Three Lions: 2006, 2010





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The Inland Waterways Association held their annual rally and festival at the junction of the Bridgewater and Rochdale canal in 1988, it was their largest to date.


The Former Congregational Chapel on Castle Street was built in 1858, designed by local architect Edward Walters. It was bought by Pete Waterman in 1980 and converted into a studio where Kylie Minogue sang and Rick Astley made pop history, recording “Never Gonna Give You Up”. It’s now offices.


D-Percussion was a free annual music festival,set up as a positive reaction to the IRA bombing of Manchester. Steve Smith, one of the founders said “It’s probably the thing I’m most proud of in my career…bringing a community together through a shared love of music.” Artists have included Elbow, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Belle & Sebastian.


Now in its third year, Castlefield Food Festival showcases the best local farmers and producers alongside urban street food vendors and bars. Master Classes and Cookoffs are free to attend while live music helps create a fantastic atmosphere. Over 40,000 people attend over the long weekend making it one of the area‘s most popular annual events.


“Everyone who lives in Castlefield knows it’s special and pull together to protect it, whether it’s looking out for each other or going out picking up litter or gardening, or helping baby ducks out of a grid – there’s a real community here.” Castlefield Forum is a voluntary group that works on projects to celebrate, improve and safeguard the area.


Some of popular culture’s greatest TV shows were created right here in Castlefield at Granada Studios on Quay Street. The list of greats include Coronation St, The Krypton Factor, Seven Up! And Phoenix Nights. The Beatles also filmed their first television appearance in Studio 12 there.


Ivy Forth recalls the G.W.R. shire horses “were beautifully kept…. On May Day it was our treat to watch the Great Western’s Shire horses coming from the stable all decked out for the parade”


The Manchester & Salford Hospital for Skin Diseases let the bravest children make some pocket money. Patients threw coins from windows, recruiting them to sneak contraband (normally beer) on a bandage pulley system. The children avoided disease by handling the cash with paper. Unsuspecting shopkeepers weren’t so well prepared.


A riotous drunken affair annually at Deansgate, featuring stalls and attractions. Highlights included, Mr Wombwell’s travelling menagerie (exotic animals from around the world) and Pablo Fanque ‘s Circus Royal. Fanque was then the only black circus owner in the country, and also the inspiration behind The Beatles’ ‘For the Benefit of Mr Kite’.


Castlefield held the event for everyone to watch the announcement of the winner of the bid to host 2000 Olympics. It was busy, and sunny – there were DJs and different acts on. “I remember when it was announced [that] Sydney won the bid, in true Mancunian style we all started singing… ‘Always look on the Bright Side of Life’!”


GB’s Olympic and Paralympic Teams of 2016 both finished 2nd in their medals table. To celebrate, the nation held two homecoming parades, the first in Manchester. Starting outside the Museum of Science and Industry where more than 150,000 people lined the route, despite the rain to cheer their heroes.


2015 – 60,000 people rallied to protest the state of the nation. Trade Unions, families, and Jews for Palestine, were amongst those expressing their concerns. Not the first politicallymotivated act here – in 1901 & 1902 James Connolly spoke on Byrom’s field about The Irish Socialist Republican Party. He was executed in 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising.


They’ve slaked the thirst of canal workers, boatmen and market traders over the years and still sit at the heart of the community. Castlefield’s pubs are part of the fabric of the area and are as important to a strong community today as ever before.


Initially set up as a year-long project as the home of an experimental theatre company, financed by Granada Television, it was later used by Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre. “There seems to be no end to the string of talented playwrights and performers the Stables can produce”
– Daily Telegraph 1969


In 2006 a big screen was set up in Castlefield Bowl for fans to watch England’s World Cup campaign. England lost to Portugal (on penalties inevitably) but there was such a great atmosphere an official Fan Park was built for the 2010 finals with three giant screens, a beach and a 5-a-side pitch for 17,500 supporters.


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