The In-between

Top left – back of the current MCDC building showing the now demolished half of the building and Smithfield Wholesale Market (now flats, note the CIS building behind)
Top right – E. Gibbons booth and empty fish crates
Middle – recently amputated fish market hall, the retail markets for fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, flowers. The housing on the right is yet to be built.
Bottom left and right – demolition and empty wholesale markets

I have only four more weeks before Collecting History finishes. I’ve discovered so much (there’s a backlog) and I’ve got a list of leads as long as my arm to follow up which I know I can’t physically cover in the time left. As with all collections we just have to accept that our accumulations can never be complete and it’s the in-between bits, the incidental and unknown that really spur on our fascination with the past and allow our imagination to fill in the gaps in ways which reflect ourselves and our romantic ideals.

The stories I’ve collected are mostly to do with Smithfield Market or MCDC and their surrounds, but inspired by the stories we cannot have I thought I would include this page from Eddie Cartwright’s research folder of the in-between bit – the empty Fish Market and soon to be Craft Village.

From MCDC’s heritage collection.

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The Sun Girl

Submitted to the MCDC office by Carol Mowl,

We had a Malibu-sponsored Christmas party. Fancy dress – I dressed as a parrot. My daughter Hannah got ink on her from screen printing T-shrts and at that point I wondered if I should be bringing her to work!

Anne from RA Designer Jewellery dropped by with this cut out from the Manchester Evening News last week and the back story to this shot made it all the better. Apparently the press had been invited to the sponsored Christmas party but had never shown up. The next day Anne was in her studio and the photographer appeared so she had to recreate the party, in her underwear rather than a bikini.

A Creative Buzz

Submited by Ann Toplis to the blog

My studio, Ann Toplis Designs, was upstairs tucked away in the corner from 1993 to 1997, where I made furniture and gifts from solid wood. Day to day, I have lovely memories of breakfasts with my fellow studio holders, and the creative buzz that prevailed in the very slowly up and coming Northern Quarter area. The best part was the advice that was always on offer from the other more experienced businesses. And of course being one of the newer businesses, we learnt from each other. It was a great time of my life and having moved to Holland, where there in nothing similar, I really miss it.

Submitted by Helen rushworth to the blog

I moved in to Studio 3 (opposite the cafe) in October 1989 not long after finishing my MA in Ceramics at Staffordshire Poly. I shared the studio for the first few years with Alan Grieg who made lovely brightly painted pots and plates, and on Saturdays we spent many a tortured afternoon listening to Man City getting thrashed on the radio – how times have changed! I remained at the Craft Centre right up till 2002 when I left to create babies instead. I have loads of great memories – bizarre fancy dress parties, visits from our one time patron Tony Wilson, an unknown Doves playing a gig on the stage outside my door, Nigel’s delicious ciabattas and soups, lots of bickering over being ‘co-operative’, but mainly I remember it as being a fantastic place to work and share creative ideas with a bunch of like-minded folk. Long may it live.

Cats & Dogs

Courtesy of Eddie Cartwright

Of course a fish market had to have cats and I imagine they were the best fed cats in the whole of Manchester up until the relocation. I’m not sure how the Jimmy Kelly’s menu might have competed with left over fish and mice but it’s good to know someone looked out for the market’s retired pest controllers.

Anne’s dog’s in RA Jewellery Design

I spoke to long standing tenants Lee Page Hanson and Colette Hazelwood last week about  a time when dogs were a regular feature of the Craft Centre with many tenants bringing theirs in with them to work. Apparently they were quite a pull with the general public and customers would come in to visit the dogs. Hygiene and health and safety put a kibosh on this practice but there’s certainly a preoccupation with makers here to respond to animals, particularly birds. Butterflies too, but no fish spotted as yet.

More on that theme later, but here’s Eve Bennett’s Dead Bird commission which you can spot in the first stairwell at MCDC.

In the Eighties

submitted by Charlotte Sargeant to the blog

I started visiting the Craft Centre as it was then known in about 1987 when i was 14 years old, as I had met someone called Rob Fulton who worked for Eva Barker who owned the Silverlode, a small silversmiths. From then on I learned to make silver jewellrey and began to work there in 1990 which i carried on doing until 1997.
There used to be some great Christmas parties there and it was always laid back and a good place to work. They used to hold meetings down stairs when Liam was at Majolica Works and they even coined the phrase ‘The Northern Quarter’ which we really laughed at and still amazes me now that buildings and streets around there are trendy as there was never much there before.
The Silverlode is not in the Craft and Design Centre anymore but it does seem like a very vibrant place now and I have many happy memories of working there.

submitted to the blog by Folly Bloom

I have great memories of the MCDC. Need to confirm the date but Gavin & I met over a lovely bowl of home-made carrot and coriander soup and a cheeky bag of hoola hoops and we have never looked back! I was sharing a studio and started out on my handmade work.

Several happy years later, about 14!, we are the proud owners of 4 arty, musical children owed all to our love for MCDC!!

Hope this helps.
Ps Had many a good evening @Night & Day too in them ‘old’ days!!

A Craft Centre for Manchester

On the 6th August 1978 the conversion of Smithfield Fish Market into a Craft Village was given the go ahead. According to an article from the Manchester Evening News the following day it would provide a visitor attraction and help preserve many traditional crafts. Visitors would be able to wander through building watching the craftspeople at work and buy goods directly from them.

By August interest had been received from 30 or so craftspeople including furniture makers, potters, glass blowers, silversmiths. goldsmiths, and other skilled crafts people in jewellery, weaving and dressmaking. Jack Hadwen, Director of the Industrial Development Unit, added that it would have “Tremendous public appeal and would be the biggest of its kind in the country”.

Manchester City Council renovated the market and the ‘Manchester Craft Village’ was opened in 1982.