Share your History

Do you have a story for Collecting History?

Maybe you want to share your first visit here or why you think it’s important to have a ‘Craft Centre’ in Manchester; maybe you have a photograph of an object bought here to share, or want to tell us of how you commissioned a tenant for an important piece of work?

Submissions will become part of our Collecting History exhibition. You can leave your story in the comments below, or email them to, or from the 28th April you could always call in to the exhibition in person and leave us a message.

20 thoughts on “Share your History

  1. The first time that I went to the Fish Market as a school girl was to get a crab for my drawing exam. I’d never seen one before, dead or alive, just as pictures in books. It gave me a shock to see it in real life and it was so smelly. I couldn’t afford it anyway so I had to choose something else to draw. I can’t remember what it was but obviously much more boring that a crab.

  2. My Dad took me to Manchester Craft and Design Centre on a day out when i was 17. I had just decided to study Ceramics at University, so he thought it would be fitting. I remember being overwhelmed by the Centre and adamantly deciding that i would have a studio at the Centre when i became a successful ceramicist!

    I currently work at MCDC, but i’m not a ceramicist. I manage the exhibitions programme and learning instead. I still love it and it’s a very nice place to work.

  3. 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.

  4. Hi, loving the ‘collecting history’.

    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, about14!, 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!!

  5. The first time I went into the Craft Village as it was known then was around 1988/89. I was a student at South Manchester College doing a BTEC in Jewellery and had come all the way from Ireland to do the course as there was no jewellery courses in Eire at the time. Two graduates Rob & Gary who were friends of a friend had joined Silverlode. I was amazed to see them setting up business after finishing the course I had just completed. However I wanted to learn more and went on to London to study at St Martins. When I returned in 1993, I went into RA Design and Anne started selling my work there. It was my first outlet after graduating. I will always be grateful to Anne for taking my work and giving me confidence to apply to other outlets and build up my business. In 2002, Deborah Zeldin O’Neill an existing tenant in MCDC needed someone to share and asked me to join forces. We set up Divinity in 2002 and it has grown from strength to strength over the last ten years. Its a special year for MCDC being 30 years old, but it’s also a special year for me as it’s my 10 year anniversary being here and I’m now Artistic Director on the board. I love it and hope to stay as long as possible.

  6. I moved to Manchester from my home town Southport in 2002 for university and soon discovered the Craft Centre. I used to do all my christmas and birthday shopping at the centre but never dreamt that I would end up being a tenant. I did the setting up scheme with the Design Initiative 2006-2008 and got some funding to do the Design Show Liverpool. During the show I met quite a few MCDC tenants who convinced me to apply for a vacant studio and before I knew it I was part of the team. I now share studio 24 with my lovely friend Nell. It’s been a wonderful three years with my new extended family. Happy 30th Birthday MCDC!

  7. Its autumn 2008, a rather warm day, and I’m wandering around Manchester following some guy rattling on about buildings and key dates in Manchester’s history. I’m preoccupied with thoughts that being a mature student might not be for me; after all I signed up for a degree in Jewellery & Applied Art, not charging round city centres with a rather random bunch of today’s youth, and one thankfully older than me lecturer. Added to my plight was rather unsuitable footwear and an inherent ineptitude when it comes to finding the same place twice; so Mike as he turned out to be called, was wasting his time with the ‘orientation trip’, all I would remember were sore feet in the morning. Then as we piled to a stop in the street I vaguely here the words ‘craft centre’…okay that sounds a bit more like it, if nothing else it’s indoors. So here I am at Manchester Craft and Design Centre on a sunny September day, and this is my oasis, not least because Mike is leaving us here and we can ‘explore’ at our leisure. I remember thinking how odd it was to find this beautiful building ‘tucked away behind a car park’. Stepping inside the sun was flooding through the glass roof, and it felt then, as it still does to me today, like you are stepping out of the city into another world. It also turned out to be where my soon to be jewellery tutor, Eve Redmond, had her studio, Divinity. So things were looking up, there were loads of fab things to see here and my lecturer actually had her own jewellery studio…perhaps giving this student lark a chance might be worth a go!
    Well four years on, things have changed somewhat. I have a BA (Hons) degree, it turned out that I met some amazing people on my course and made great friends, and Manchester Craft & Design Centre is a firm fixture in my new life as a jewellery maker. Behind the treasure filled studio windows I found a community of makers who are always welcoming and inspiring. Today I come to the craft centre sometimes just to shop, other times to look after the studio for Eve (which also now stocks some of my jewellery!), and to top up on the sense of belonging to a craft community. I am one of many over the years that Eve has nurtured from student to jewellery maker entrusting us along the way with time in her studio; always there for advice and without hesitation the person who will say give it a go, you can do it. I will always owe a great deal of what I achieve to Eve. There are more lovely makers at the craft centre who have helped and continue to do so today; so for me it is not just the beautiful building and the glorious array of work to be found here that have imprinted on me, but the makers at the heart of MCDC, they are a part of my jewellery history. Thank you all for inspiration, help and encouragement x
    P.S I will be exhibiting as part of ‘Past, Present & Future Makers Celebrate 30 Years at Manchester Craft & Design Centre’ from 28 April – Divinity Studio and Jo Lavelle Studio.

  8. When I was a little girl in the 1950’s my parents had a greengrocer’s shop in Middleton which also sold “wet fish”! During the school holidays my father used to take me with him sometimes when he went to the market at the start of the day. I remember having to get up very early and drive in our old van and trailer into Manchester to buy the fruit, veg and fish. I remember the fish market the most because of the smell but also because also because I would occasionally be given sweets or a threepenny bit by the nice stallholders. A big treat for me was to be allowed to stand in the trailer as my Dad drove round the block from the veg market to the fish market to collect his purchases!
    Now I am still a regular visitor to the MCDC and the Northern Quarter generally – I love the fact that some bits of old Manchester are being put to such good use and not demolished.

  9. I had a studio there Mark Prest Glass from 1991 -1995, many a happy time hanging over the balcony gossiping with Mandy and Ross from Odlin and Webb, who were fashion designers. Poping into Robert Johnstones studio who made contemporary Jewellery out of gold leaf and resin or on the scrounge downstairs in Donna and Lisa’s then studio. How things and life have changed since then. One thing I don’t miss though is how cold the place is in winter!

    • Those were the days indeed !! what a creative environment the craft centre was ! How we all helped each other. I will always remember Mark modelling the latest Odlin and Webb Designs for us before ‘Flesh’ at the Hacienda, and having Matthew Williamson as a school boy on placement with us ! The laughs we had with Simon Rimmer (Chef now) who had made about 2,ooo mugs for a company but missed the last digit off the phone number, meaning anyone in the craft centre was never short of a fine bone china mug ! or the time he ordered bags of polystyrene balls to package his china, misreading the size, and each one of the five bags he ordered was larger than the entire floor space in his studio ! and Odlin and Webb of course turning down making some stage outfits for a new up-coming band, who were of course ‘Take That’ ! whoops !! What I don’t miss is that toilet ! and the stress of thinking your car would not be there when you left !

  10. My main connection to MCDC are regularly visiting Liz Scrine in her ceramic studio opposite the cafe. Liz was always a great inspiration to me as a ceramicist, trying in the early 90’s to get a business going in ceramics. I was able to start this by using the Enterprise Allowance set up by the Tories. The only offering by that government that did some good.
    I then, over time, started to sell my work from Liz’s studio. Helen , next door , also aided my mini career too. MCCD was the only place in Manchester to offer such a chance. So thank you to all involved and good luck for the future, to the hidden gem of Manchester.

  11. My first memory of the Craft and Design centre was when I used to visit with my dad in the early 90’s I must have been only 7 or 8 and living in Warrington, so a trip to Manchester was exciting! We would visit the Corn Exchange and Afflecks Palace, see the goth kids in what was then a very leafy, lush picadilly gardens and visit the Craft and Design Centre. I remember drinking hot spiced apple juice from the MCDC cafe and loving the feeling of the place. We visited Manchester regularly until I was old enough to visit alone. And now 20years later I live here and still love to visit the Craft and Design centre – though unfortunately the Corn Exchange’s new manifestation as The Triangle leaves a lot to be desired! It inspired me years ago to be creative and to follow my creative dreams – I’ve always made things and now am working on making it into a business, thanks to those early years of seeing creativity and alternative ways of living around me.

  12. Silverlode was in MCDC for 23 years. I was there for 11 of those years. The Craft Centre was run as a cooperative back then. Ewa Barker, Tara Kirkpatrick, Rochelle Dodson, Gary Arnfield and Rob Fulton were all tenants at MDCD and part of who made up Silverlode over the years. It was through Tara’s patience and Ewa’s dogged determination to take on every request (argh) that I learned the skills I have acquired today.

  13. My studio, Ann Toplis Designs, was upstairs tucked away in the corner from1993 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.

    My most memorable day while working at the MCDC was in 1996 when all of a sudden there were helicopters droning overhead ordering evacuation of the city centre. We had no idea if we should stay or leave. And then soon after, the bomb went off and the whole building shook to its core. We were so lucky that only a couple of windows cracked. It was quite a task to get home that day to the south side of the city. The city centre was a eery place for the next few months.

  14. As a child I loved butterflies, and still do. On my first visit to the centre a year or so ago I visited artist Lily Greenwood’s studio (Liz). A “special” birthday was approaching and I was taken with a print of one of her originals featuring butterflies. Hearing that Lily (Liz) undertook comissions I took the plunge and asked her to re-create her lovely painting incorporating my interpretation of what I saw in her wonderful original. We went on a journey to get to the finished piece and I now have the delightful painting hanging on my lounge wall at home to enjoy along with friends and family too. It always catches people’s attention and is a real talking point, particularly with what I and everyone else sees in it. The butterflies represented a turning point in my life and funnily enough what I saw in the painting is coming true……

    • Thank you Helen, it’s really wonderful to hear of commissions as personal as this. I’m looking forward to collecting more personal commission stories and would love to see a photo of your painting if you have one? If you do and are happy to share my email is lucyelsieharvey @ (minus the spaces!)

  15. 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.

    • HI Helen – I am trying to track down one of your teapots. My wife had one until last week, and its now in several pieces! Do you still make them? My email address is if you could get in touch that would be great. Thanks


    I have been a Manchester Craft and design Centre tenant for the past 9 years. On first acquiring studio 16 in 2003, myself and 3 other artists, one of whom is my best friend and Craft Centre neighbour Jessica livsey of fibre, prepared ourselves for an exciting future. Studio 16 and 17 were relatively small studios, as a consequence we had builders come in on one scorching June day to knock down the wall, this created one long bright space. Although two of the original artists left to find pastures new, myself and Jess stayed and our business’s have flourished.

    I have produced many commissions for notable actors and musicians, my work now hangs all across the world from Hong Kong, Australia, China, America, Canada and all over europe. The curator of the National Portrait Gallery purchased a landscape on canvas from Northern Scapes and went to the trouble of contacting the studio to congratulate me on my work, this is one of my proudest moments.

    PUTTING CRAFT ON THE MAP (Title of work)

    I shall be creating a one off painting of Manchester, harnessing the underrated meduim of watercolour on the unconventional surface of ceramic . The piece will form a map, indicating some of the notable landmarks with memories for all mancunions, from the dry bar, hacienda to the more studious among us, the central library and Manchester university. But most importantly the Craft and Design Centre, which will become the anchor of the piece.

    The map I am creating dennotes the Craft and Design Centre’s residence and the importance of the publics awareness of this, and their realisation of a creaive hub for all, made in Machester, for the world. Original art and craft from local artists, inbedding it’s location within the Manchester pyschie, to promote the centre as the main landmark of the northern quarter.

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