The yellow tram catches your attention immediately. Its destination is clear, Piccadilly bound. It’s nearing the end of its journey. Where it began we don’t know but it’s heading to the city centre from somewhere south of the metropolitan area.
Trams made a welcome return to Manchester in the late 1990s. The original system was dismantled roughly 50 years earlier. Their eye catching yellow colour is unmistakable along with horn sound as they warn pedestrians to move out of the way. It’s surprising how many people wander across tram lines oblivious to danger and what might be coming. But that discussion is for another day. For we’re focused on the scene before us, Piccadilly bound, the tram may be either the gardens or the station, I don’t know.
We’re by the former Manchester Central Station. Closed in the 60s. a casualty of the Beeching reforms. Left derelict, as a glorified carpark, for many years. Restored in the 80s, it became the GMEX centre, taking on a new role as a conference centre. Now it’s Manchester Central, a name that reflects its former function.
The building almost stretches across the entire width of the painting, dominating the scene. A red brick construction with stonework details and numerous windows creating a repeating pattern along the walls. Architectural details form repeating patterns:The structure of the roof supports; the brickwork; the railings; even the posts of the power lines that supply the oncoming tram, with tendrils of black splaying out from them. I’m reminded of electricity, as if the power itself is escaping from the cables. A kind of lightning in reverse, absorbing all light.
The background is Beetham’s tower, towering above and looking out of place. Disappearing into the sky around it, drawing all the colour from the sky or is it leaking colour to turn the grey day into blue.? More repeating grid patterns define this towers shape, contemporary and featureless in comparison to the excessive detailing of the Victorian Manchester Central building.
The brickwork is eyecatching, its weathered appearance indicating age. My thoughts go to the men who would have laid them one brick at a time. They could even have been one of my ancestors. How long ago was that? Was it in the 19th century when the train station was originally built? Or is it a more recent addition I suspect the former, they look old enough. I wonder what those brickies would make of the scene today? And would they be surprised to see the tram returning, Piccadilly Bound