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Manchester on the big screen: seven film locations to explore in the city

To celebrate the opening of Vue Manchester Printworks, we asked Mancunian writer Lorrie Hartshorn to take us on a tour of the rainy city through film.

Manchester’s played a starring role in a huge range of films – everything from Hammer horror to working class dramas – but if there’s one thing all these movies have in common, it’s the eclectic cityscape: red bricks and Gothic architecture, polished cobbles and towering graffiti.

Whip your popcorn out and pull on your wellies: let’s take a tour of Manchester on film.


MANCHESTER TOWN HALL

What do Margaret Thatcher and Frankenstein’s monster have in common? Beside the obvious (we’re saying nothing), both of these imposing figures are connected to Manchester’s neo-gothic town hall by way of cinema. Set on Manchester’s Albert Square, the town hall played host to both The Iron Lady (2011), and Victor Frankenstein (2015).

THE JOHN RYLANDS LIBRARY

From monsters made of flesh to creatures of clay: stylish 2017 horror The Limehouse Golem sees Bill Nighy pursuing a mythical beast through the fabulously creepy John Rylands Library. The library is open to visitors and has a pretty good café, so it’s a good place to soak up some atmosphere when the sky is grey.

CASTLEFIELD

Monstrous in name only, 2016 hit A Monster Calls shot a number of scenes by the River Irwell in Castlefield. The film depicts a young boy struggling to come to terms with his mum’s terminal illness, and stars Hollywood big hitters Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones.

LEVENSHULME

The flatteringly titled Brit-noir classic Hell is a City (1960) ventures out of the city centre and into Levenshulme. One of the film’s principal locations is Errwood House, located on the corner of Milwain Road. We wouldn’t advise lurking around this residential property too long, but you can take a quick peep – it looks just the same.

THE NORTHERN QUARTER

Dale Street in Manchester’s über funky Northern Quarter was transformed into 1940s New York for 2010 Hollywood blockbuster Captain America. Used for the car chase scene in the film, Dale Street was totally transformed with set pieces from the period. Now home to plenty of perky little cafés, Dale Street’s well worth a nosey.

SALFORD

Pull your duffle coat on, grab your space hopper, and bounce over to Openshaw to see where 1999 comedy East is East was filmed. Set in Salford, the film follows the trials and tribulations of the Khans, a mixed race Pakistani-English family in the 1970s, and never fails to elicit both tears and laughter.

CHORLTON

Ken Loach’s whimsical comedy drama, Looking for Eric (2009), was shot on location in Chorlton, with short departures to nearby Swinton, Hulme, and – of course – Old Trafford. Warwick Road, Chorlton Square shopping centre, and Swinton Palais all feature, and it’s well worth a trip if you’re a fan of the film: Chorlton’s full of quirky cafés where you can while away an afternoon.