Piccadilly Basin has come alive with art. If you like me are wondering where the bloody hell is Piccadilly Basin it’s the bit along the Rochdale Canal behind Dale Street car park. It’s the city centre side of Great Ancoats Street on the canal by what was a thriving drive-in shopping complex. In the ’90s the Great Ancoats Street retail park was so busy that at times you couldn’t drive onto it. There was many a time I drove there with my kids only to turn round moaning that I wasn’t bleeding gonna queue up to go shopping, kids crying and partner sucking her teeth. But now the only thing people queue up to do at Central Retail park, as it’s officially called, is dogging.
Piccadilly Basin, which once had an equally iffy past, has reinvented itself as an alluring and tasteful dwelling zone. I’ve jogged up and down this canal for many a year and before the regeneration I began to cross over the canal at this point, and you had to because the towpath ended on one side and began on the other, it was a dangerously slippy balancing act across the lock gate, which wasn’t very clever in the snow and rain. Now we have a bridge and everything. We also have flats and offices and swanky wooden canalside seats, landscaping and a basket-ball net.
Linda’s Pantry, the cafe at the top of Ducie Street which was once frequently visited by Shareholders United, is still there. There is a strong sense of the old and new coalescing alongside each other here in Piccadilly Basin.
The Basin was hosting Atelier[Zero] which had built a row of seaside bathing huts along the side of the water’s edge. Atelier[Zero] is the combined talent of the Office for Subversive Architecture and students from Manchester school of architecture and École Spéciale D’Architecture. In each of the bathing huts were different types of art. The one thing I was most gladdened by was the rowing boats. The chance to mess about on water and it be an artistic experience was something that could not be missed. I left it until the penultimate day before my rowing artistry took shape but shape it took. Rowing a complete circle on the spot was my triumph and if spinning around and around was an olympic event I was a golden medal winner. But sadly many other people had the same idea and synchronised rowing had just been invented.
I enjoyed the floating garden, it was a garden that floated and for that reason I edified it to levels of flabbergastment which was probably a bit over the top given the dour nature of the garden. Gardener’s World devotees would have laughed hysterically at the raft that was floating in the middle of the basin with a few sorry looking plants drooping about. But it was art so who cares that the floating garden was shite.
A short walk to Tariff Street and you get to view the LomoWall of pictures. The wall of pictures spreads right along the top end of Tariff Street and is a full two metres high. The wall is made up of lots of smaller analogue pictures, known as Lomographs. I studied the wall of pictures and found a few of FC and lots of places in Manchester that I recognised.
The next arty-farty thing I went to in this area was a walk-in cinema in a car park. The film was projected onto the side of a multi-storey car park and we sat in deckchairs listening to the audio on FM radio via our mobiles and saw bog all of the film because it was far too light. But the thought was there.