153 years ago this week, central Manchester’s high-security prison opened its doors for the first time.
HM Prison Manchester – which is commonly referred to as Strangeways by all that know it, which was its former official name derived from the area it’s located, until it was rebuilt following the major riots in 1990 – was declared open on 25 June 1868.
Built to replace the New Bailey Prison in Salford which closed in 1868, Strangeways was famously designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse.
With construction said to cost in the region of £170,000, the eye-catching Grade II listed building has the capacity to hold 1,000 inmates and is instantly recognisable to Mancunians primarily thanks to its 234 feet (71 m) ventilation tower – which is often mistaken for a watchtower, and has become a local landmark.
The prison’s walls are rumoured to be 16 feet thick, and are said to be impenetrable from both the inside and the out.
Because of this, Strangeways has been home to some pretty notorious inmates over the years.
From some of the UK’s most-prolific serial killers, to television personalities, Premier League footballers and more, here’s a handful of famous faces who’ve spent time behind bars at Strangeways during its 153 year history.
Harold Shipman remains to this day one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers.
Serving as a GP at a medical centre in Hyde, Shipman often targeted the elderly by injecting them with lethal doses of diamorphine, resulting in a victim number thought to be between 215 and 260 people over a 23 year killing spree – which is one of the worst ever documented.
Shipman was eventually arrested on 7 September 1998, and was held in Strangeways.
His trial took place at Preston Crown Court in 1999, where it took four months to find him guilty of just 15 cases of murder, and he was sentenced to 15 life sentences.
Ian Brady is most-known as one half of Britain’s infamous killing pair, The Moors Murderers.
Many will know that Brady and Myra Hindley devastatingly murdered five innocent children between 12 July 1963 and 6 October 1965 and buried their bodies in the vast landscape of the Saddleworth Moors, which eventually led to Brady being found guilty of three murders and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Prior to all of this though, within a year of moving to Manchester, Brady was caught with a sack full of lead seals that he had stolen and was trying to smuggle out of the market.
He was subsequently sent to Strangeways for three months.
Former Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton’s prolific football career and life have been marked by numerous controversial incidents and disciplinary problems over the years, as well as two convictions for violent crimes.
On 20 May 2008, Barton was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty for common assault and affray during an incident in Liverpool city centre.
Barton served 74 days of this prison term at Strangeways, being released on 28 July 2008.
One of the more well-known names to serve a stint behind bars at Strangeways is Stone Roses’ frontman, Ian Brown.
Brown was charged for threatening behaviour towards a British Airways flight attendant and captain, and was sentenced to four months in the summer of 1998.
He served only two months of his sentence at Strangeways, and admitted that while locked up, he wrote three songs – including ‘Free My Way’.
Another one of the more surprising Strangeways residents comes in the form of Cheadle Heath-born antiques expert and television personality, David Dickinson – who you’ll probably recognise as the host of Bargain Hunt and Dickinson’s Real Deal.
Believe it or not, at the tender age of just 19 years old, Dickinson served three years of a four-year prison sentence for mail-order fraud, with the majority of that sentence being spent at Strangeways.
Dickinson has since described this time as “horrendous”, and that he’s learned to “take it on the chin and accept it was his own fault”.
Undeniably one of Manchester’s most notorious killers of this century is one-eyed murderer Dale Cregan.
He began his life of crime from an early age dealing drugs, but then notably turned to gun crime by first shooting Mark Short in the Cotton Tree Pub in Droylsden and attempting to kill three other men, before violently murdering Short’s father a few months later.
He then made national headlines when he tricked two female police officers to a property in Mottram in Longendale by reporting a burglary, before ambushing them with gunfire and a grenade which murdered them both.
Greater Manchester’s chief constable Peter Fahy called the attack “cold-blooded murder”, and then Prime minister David Cameron said it was a “despicable act of pure evil”.
Cregan handed himself in and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a whole life order on June 13 2013.
Suffragette Emily Davison was detained at Strangeways twice as a result of her efforts for the women’s rights movements during the early twentieth century.
Her first stint was for disrupting a meeting with Chancellor David Lloyd George and throwing rocks at the windows, and during this imprisonment, she famously went on a significant hunger strike, which resulted in her losing 21 pounds.
She was released just five and a half days later.
Her second Strangeways stint came just two months after, again for throwing stones, and lasted two and a half days.
Unlike the other people on this list, it was Paul Taylor’s actions during his time inside Strangeways rather than prior that have ensured his name is written in the prison’s history books.
It all started when a visiting Church of England preacher had just delivered the sermon, and the prison chaplain stood to thank him before Taylor took the microphone and addressed the congregation.
Over the course of 25-days, the riots – which are still the longest in British prison riot history, with one prisoner killed, and 147 prison officers and 47 prisoners injured – spread throughout much of the prison, and Taylor famously ended up on the roof.
Much of the prison was damaged or destroyed, with the cost of repairs coming to £55 million.
Featured Image – Wikimedia Commons / Biography
The thousands of hours it takes to perfect making some of the best sushi in Manchester
We’d wager if you took a survey of people on the street in Manchester and asked them what food they find most intimidating, a very big chunk of the answers would be sushi and raw fish.
But then again, most of them haven’t been to MUSU yet.
Listen, we get it, even tasting menus sometimes sound a touch upmarket and a bit out of their wheelhouse to some people, but this two AA Rosette-winning Japanese restaurant is helping make fine-dining and seafood experiences more accessible whilst delivering a truly unforgettable meal.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Head Sushi Chef André Aguiar after he served us MUSU’s ‘omakase’ tasting menu straight from the counter, which features some of the most amazing sushi, nigiri and all-round high-end produce we’ve ever come across. This guy knows his stuff.
Can you give us a brief overview of your background/journey as a chef?
I started my career in Brazil which was my home country. I was in the army and met a captain who was passionate about Japanese cuisine. After he introduced me to the world of Japanese culture and cuisine, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
I then opened a Japanese restaurant in 2010 in Brazil and stayed there for two years before selling the restaurant in order to move to Ireland in order to learn English.
I met a Japanese master at Taste by Dylan McGrath in Dublin who wanted to retire and move back to Japan but the deal that he had with the owner of the restaurant was that he had to find a new head chef before he left so I started to train with him, he was very strict and it was really tough but I persevered for three years until I was ready to take over the head sushi chef position and was there for 4 years.
After Taste, I moved to Italy for 6 months to open a restaurant and train the staff then came back to Dublin in 2019 and continued to work there but then Covid hit and unfortunately they closed down due to the pandemic.
After the pandemic, I went to Portugal to open another restaurant and to train staff and when working there I was approached by the directors of MUSU who were on holiday there and were looking for a head sushi chef to join the team.
After they tried my tasting menu at the restaurant in Portugal, they offered me the position immediately, so I moved to the UK the next month and I’ve been here ever since.
Amazing. What was it that drew you to MUSU and the ‘omakase’ concept specifically?
The fact I was able to build a team from the ground up, develop a menu from scratch and work with the finest ingredients in the world.
At the end of the day, that’s what every chef wants.
Simple as that. What about your favourite sushi creation?
During the development of the menu at MUSU I was able to experiment with lots of different ingredients. While I can’t name one favourite creation the three stand-outs are the Chu-toro seared with Japanese charcoal; the carabinero prawn with miso butter and then the salmon with foie gras.
During development, I was able to create a selection of ‘Edomae’ nigiri that really pushes the boundaries of traditional Edo-style sushi — if you visit I’d recommend trying a few of them.
Yep, we can vouch for all three of those dishes. What advice would you give people new to sushi/seafood/tasting menus?
Most of the people who come here and say they are afraid to try raw fish or have usually had a bad experience with sushi due to low-quality ingredients. When they try it here, we always get asked why it is so different and why it is so good.
I always tell them the details behind the sushi we create including the ageing and curing process to improve flavour and texture as well as the rice quality, temperature and seasoning.
We use the best ingredients in all of our sushi, including the best sushi rice, nori seaweed; A5 wagyū beef; aged soy, aged vinegar and the freshest wasabi on the market shipped directly from Japan.
I always recommend that people just be open-minded when it comes to trying new things. Sometimes people have one bad experience and never venture into it again, whereas when people are open to new textures and flavours they have the best experience.
Absolutely. And if you had to describe the omakase experience in three words what would they be?
Literally translating to, “I’ll leave the details up to you”, that’s how we’d sum up the whole omakase experience: you get to watch a craftsman carefully examining every minute detail as he builds some of the most incredible seafood courses we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating right in front of your eyes.
Chef Andre is a master in every sense of the word and not only do you get to see his skills on show but his knowledge of the cuisine and pure passion come across as he explains each and every dish.
Every incredible ingredient is lovingly presented and you get to witness the clean, military-level precision and almost surgery-like operation unfold up close as the freshest of produce is turned into little plates of art. It’s quite fascinating to watch.
So if you’re guilty of being nervous try sushi and seafood in this kind of setting, there aren’t many better places to push the boat out and dip your toes in. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed — and better still, if you sign up for the MUSU Rewards scheme, you can get 30% off your food bill this March and even more throughout the year.
The 1975 prove they’re some of the best performers on the planet with homecoming gig at the AO Arena
Last night, The 1975 reminded Manchester and fans all over that they’re some of the very best performers on the planet when it comes to music right now, it’s that simple.
Not hyperbole, just an honest opinion from a fan who’s seen them multiple times now and has only seen them get bigger and better each time, not to mention become more impressive as all-round entertainers.
Managing to get a standing ticket to the first of their two packed-out nights at the AO Arena, almost exactly a year on from seeing them from the seated section in 2023, it’s fair to say that being in amongst it certainly played its part in somehow topping the previous and already unbelievable gig.
Dancing around like prats, shaking our knees and screaming our heads off; jumping up and down, and drinking in every drop of the serotonin-soaked atmosphere, we can’t remember many other shows that have genuinely got better with each second that passed — and it all started with an amazing support act.
Late last year, The Manc Audio had the pleasure of going along to see ever-rising Dirty Hit labelmates, The Japanese House, at New Century Hall where Amber Bain’s vocals nearly had us in tears and Saturday evening was no different.
Even in the space of just a couple of songs — the majority of which 1975 fans know pretty well too given how close the two acts are and certainly more than most supports usually enjoy the pleasure of when playing huge tours like this — we could fully envisage them headlining this arena themselves.
While The Japanese House is technically just Bain and her touring band, the record company’s influences, paired with production from Matty Healy himself and drummer George Daniel means that there are 1975 notes all over their sound, so it’s no surprise the two dovetail so well on a billing.
We were a bit gutted we didn’t get to see him come out and sing his part on ‘Sunshine Baby’ for their final song, but you can’t win ’em all. A very, very special singer-songwriter you should all be paying very close attention to.
As for the headliners themselves, while much of the set and stage design has remained pretty much the same from last year, the biggest difference right from the off was that Healy was on top form in every sense of the word, having played the previous AO Arena gig hopped up on Lemsip and red wine.
We didn’t think his voice sounded too far from its best in 2023 anyway, but it’s safe to say that everyone benefitted from him looking visibly healthier and perhaps a little less tipsy than last time, and the well-delivered vocals from minute one made the super cinematic opening credits feel even more considered.
And while there were plenty more of those movie-like scripted moments throughout the show and clever uses of the set (we’re not going to spoil too much), this latest iteration of the live set still has the same gorgeous aesthetic but now feels like just the right amount of abstract.
That being said, we don’t think anyone was expecting to see the Marmite frontman suddenly appear from a platform rising out of the ground and start singing the stripped-down version of ‘I Like America’ to a naked waxwork of himself…
Seeing The 1975 is now just as much of a visual experience as it is a musical one.
But this was all part of what made the performance special last time and again last night. It isn’t just the joy of kicking the crowd off with those 80s-infused bangers they’re so good at like ‘Looking For Somebody to Love’ and ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ — it’s all the other stuff around it.
The fact of the matter is, we have genuinely never seen shows like the kind that The 1975 write; they swing from well-rehearsed and thought-provoking to hugging your mate as you sway together before the whole arena suddenly turns into one big dancefloor and you’re just partying again. It’s seamless.
It might not be Pink doing a dozen backflips as she flies across the air in a harness at Bolton Stadium with loads of pyros and dance routines (though we did get the Love It We Made It choreography, back by popular demand), but these lot have come a long way from just drinking wine and smoking fags as they play the hits. It definitely feels like the rest of the band all had their hero moments this time too.
From saxophonist John Waugh shining in multiple spotlighted moments, Healy introducing bassist Ross MacDonald to the “ladies, especially” and more, they all had their hero moments. A special shout-out to the truly wonderful session player Polly Mooney as well, who took the lead on ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ and smashed her ‘About You’ bridge. She’s far from just a backing player, believe us.
The sax is such a big part of their sound now.Polly has quickly become a fan favourite.
Playing a little something from every era as we hoped they would, adding in a few older tracks into the setlist compared to the previous tour, there weren’t many moments as happiness-inducing as bouncing around to ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’, ‘The Sound’ and, well, ‘Happiness’. Pure euphoria.
There was also plenty of catharsis in there too, as we also got cult classics like ‘Robbers’ and ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’, as well as probably the saddest and yet still the funkiest slow jam in ‘Somebody Else’.
We have no shame in admitting we welled up during a few, but you’ll just have to see which ones may or may not set you off.
As alluded to, there are plenty of surprises in store over the course of the 26-track and roughly two-and-a-half-hour set, and we also enjoyed the Wilmslow group giving a nod to their old stomping grounds like Satan’s Hollow and Deaf Institute where they headed for the afterparty. They’re local lads as far as we’re concerned.
1975 gigs require non-stop energy and Manchester crowds never disappoint.
For the last two tours or so now, Healy has somewhat flippantly referred to The 1975 as “the best band in the world” up on stage and while being a bit cocky and braggadocious is far from new territory for the self-proclaimed nepo baby, we’re starting to take that claim more seriously each time.
The 34-year-old has been a controversial figure in music for a good long while now and understandably so — he certainly hasn’t always hit the mark as a ‘character’ and sometimes says things we don’t agree with, whether sardonic or not — but what it comes down to is him being a showman first and foremost.
Better still, he took a lot of the recent criticism for his comments and on-stage antics and pivoted to write almost all of it into this new show in a genuinely interesting way. Finding rockstars that have just as much self-awareness as they do self-obsession is pretty rare but, above everything else, the group as a whole have created a truly incredible live experience. On their art alone, they’re up there with the best.
For anyone going along to night two of The 1975’s Manchester homecoming at the AO Arena this Sunday, if the band bring even half of the energy and charisma that they did one night one, you’ll be in for an absolute treat and we’ll jump at every chance we get to see them again – so should you.
This pretty much sums everything up you can expect from The 1975 in Manchester.