Space To Work

This week I bought a small fridge for my studio. It’s only taken me two and a half years to sort. Oh the creative mentality!

I bought it on eBay and when I went to make the collection near Eccles, I heard a long story from the seller about how a number of creatives had just been turfed out of their space in a former mill building not far away. People were frantically trying to rehome their stock, equipment, everything. They’d been given no notice. Rogue landlords are everywhere.

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It’s pink. Don’t judge me.

It’s a story I’m hearing a lot in Manchester recently. Mill buildings and old factories which have served as perfect and, largely, affordable studio space for creatives and small home grown businesses, are being emptied and turned into apartments at, no doubt, vastly inflated prices.

We’ve been feeling the effects here in Ardwick too, where my studio is based. I’ve heard there have been a number of inquiries from prospective tenants who have been faced with eviction from perfectly decent spaces. The one behind Piccadilly Station which was cleared out last year, is a perfect example.

The apparently dilapidated Meadow Mill in Stockport was actually home to a number of businesses and is due to open as apartments soon. Buildings which could have been used for anything other than living space and would have benefited the city. Castlefield, who’s residents were scurrying around earlier this year looking for new workshops, and Beehive Mill in Ancoats are other recent victims.

I’m not sure what has prompted this sudden move. Maybe it’s the possibility of HS2 rearing its particularly ugly head here in our Northern Hub. Maybe it’s a boom in the housing market (I’m not sure how) though a lot of building activity on the A57 between Ardwick and Gorton would suggest this is so. Whatever the case, it is pushing small busineses who either don’t need retail space or simply can’t afford it, into smaller and smaller circles of potentially rentable space.

I feel relatively secure here in Ardwick Green and I’m pretty sure noone would want to live in this street, nestled as we are behind the A57 and the Parcelforce depot. We are however on the edge of the demolition route for HS2 which threatens to engulf most of Beswick should it ever materialise.

The level of destruction to the communities here and along its route from the tunnel mouth right down to Wythenshawe, where it will spew out into the Cheshire countryside, would be unparalleled for this area and make the housing crisis for local people far worse since new homes will be largely occupied by commuters down south who come with London wage packets. What the future holds for Ardwick, and Beswick and the other buildings which are still holding on to their creative status, is uncertain.

I’m interested to know which mills and former factories are still thriving as creative spaces and small business hubs. If you’re a part of one, please let me know. It would be nice to hear some good news.

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