My husband and I lived right in the centre of Manchester over 20 years ago, back in the days when it wasn’t peppered with shiny little flats on the where a convenient car-park and scenically tumbledown old building used to be. Flats like ours (or loft apartments as we learned to call them) were of a much higher social status, suited to the brave trailblazers who moved their lives into the edgy city centre. We lived on Hulme Street on the top floor of an old Salvation Army warehouse and visiting friends sometimes recalled purchasing second hand furniture for their student digs or first married homes ‘back in the day’. It was still a gritty and real area, with single story Dunlop manufacturing sheds right opposite us, squeaky 6am shutter doors included, along with trundling fork lift trucks and boiler suited workers standing outside to catch a breather with a giant mug of tea in hand. Along from that was the old petrol station where we were regularly regaled with either amusingly drunken serenades from the residents of the Salvation Army hostel at the other end of the street, or occasionally, more alarming and violent drunken altercations. There were usually a couple of our Sally Army of the garage residents sunning themselves on the low wall as they enjoyed their cocktails as trailblazers of the now ubiquitous all day outside drinking.
We spent many happy hours exploring this exciting urban environment, cameras (note, these were real cameras, with 35 or 120mm film) shooting away, unknowingly making a record of a landscape which was to change beyond recognition in some areas. Often we ended up in the highly insalubrious environs around Piccadilly Station which is one of those areas which has changed, and yet somehow hasn’t. I was always drawn to the giant yellow doors of the mysterious Mayfield Storage Distribution Ltd, the yellow almost glowed out of the dirty brick surroundings. I photographed the Mayfield doors several times over the years, various cameras (later phones) with various lenses giving different images and as my editing style changed over the years, the final images varied. I’ve rummaged around in my archive and found three (surely there are more?).
Fast forward to 2018 and Jonathan Schofield was offering one of his excellent tours around the old Mayfield Station before it’s radically redeveloped. It was with great anticipation and a freshly formatted memory card that I finally found out what lies behind the big yellow doors. We entered from the Baring Street side, where GRUB Manchester will be located from the summer, then the adventure started. We wandered around downstairs before heading up the ramp at the back of the Star and Garter pub to the abandoned tracks on the top. Ironically I somehow neglected to photograph the big yellow doors which started my Mayfield story.
I’ve written quite enough now, so here are the photos from the tour in the order in which I shot them. Click each image to see a bigger version. You can find the full set on my Flickr.