As fireworks crackled across the night sky, the ‘prison’ fences surrounding Fallowfield student campus came crashing down.
This moment was the tipping point, in every sense.
After three months of waking up to the same four walls and forking out thousands of pounds to sit on Zoom, Fallowfield first-years woke up on Thursday to find they’d been fenced-in to their accommodation.
There’d been no warning, and whilst University of Manchester’s President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell quickly apologised and pledged to dismantle the fencing within hours, students decided to take matters into their own hands.
The pressure from a deeply-troubled first term had come to a head, and hundreds congregated together on campus to rip down the blockades.
It was, according to one student at the protest Ben McGowan, a: “really overwhelmingly cathartic moment.”
The fences had been installed overnight by the university as an additional security measure – intended to protect residents and ensure no unauthorised people were entering the halls.
But students insist they weren’t informed about the construction work – leaving them panicked at the prospect of being ‘locked in’.
This was made worse by the cryptic response students got when they asked the construction workers what was happening.
“They said they couldn’t tell us and that it was information that was private,” Politics and Sociology student Ben explains.
Whilst Ben called the assembly of the fences an “amazingly stupid” move by the Uni, he says it was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“Since the day we got here the uni has repeatedly failed us and broken promises,” he told us.
“When we got here we were promised in-person tutorials and before they could begin they moved to online. They moved thousands of us across the country into cramped halls riddled with problems especially in Oak House – there’s always a leaking roof or even flooding.
“During isolation they gave us barely any guidance or support. They sent us food package which arrived after we actually finished isolating which was a week’s worth of food that was due to go off in a day.”
When Ben packed his bags and travelled up from South East London to move into Oak House, he was excited about the university experience that lay ahead.
But it’s been nothing like he expected.
“It’s not really felt like we’re at uni, it just feels like I live in a hall and occasionally have to go on a Zoom call.”
It’s been the same for hundreds of others just like him.
So, when the ‘lockdown fences’ went up, collective frustration that had been building the student community mutated into an organised protest.
“By 8pm we gathered outside Owens Park tower within an area that had been fenced and began chanting and speeches,” said Ben.
“We could see security were filming us and after a bit of shaking of the fences noticed they came down relatively easily. So, once the first one crashed down everyone ran across campus tearing them all down.”
He added: “There was a real sense of solidarity amongst the hundreds of students that were there that we had actually managed to win this – especially as whilst we were at the protest we received an apology email from the university.”
According to Ben, the facility needs to focus on providing more mental health services as the pandemic continues.
“I think the main priority for universities has to be supporting student’s mental health,” he explains.
“Most of us are far away from anywhere we know, surrounded with people we barely know and the level of mental health support has been abysmal.
“Yesterday when the fences were put up actually coincided with the day an enquiry into the suicide of a student at the halls begins. At the protest last night we held a minute of silence for him at the start, but the university has to learn that if they don’t start treating students humanly things will only get worse.”
The major misstep of the fences has seen UoM apologise profusely, with a statement posted online explaining the decision.
Spokespeople for UoM have also said that the university has been offering “further support” during isolation.
But Ben says students still feel like they aren’t being heard.
“It really feels like now they’ve trapped us up here,” says Ben
“[They’ve] got our 9k, they really couldn’t care less what happens to us.”
Neighbourhood Festival Manchester 2022 – tickets, line-up, venues and more
For those uninitiated, the massive city centre festival is Neighbourhood Weekender‘s sister event and has been running every October since 2016. Well, barring the pandemic, of course.
Springing from a fledgling one-day festival that boasted the likes of Circa Waves, Blossoms, White Lies, Twin Atlantic and Lonely the Brave, it has now become one of the biggest events of the year with over 100 acts spread across multiple venues dotted around the city centre. And just in time for the students.
Since its conception, crowds have seen everyone from Sam Fender, Easy Life and Holly Humberstone, to Mahalia, Declan McKenna, Miles Kane and many, many more of Britain’s biggest names take the Neighbourhood stages on their way to making a splash on the UK music scene.
Luckily for you, this year’s line-up looks an absolute whopper too.
Neighbourhood Festival Line-Up 2022
As well as those we already knew about such as The Snuts, Sundara Karama and local lads Everything Everything, Wigan-based indie band The Lathums have also confirmed that they will be joining the Neighbourhood headliners at this year’s festival.
You love to see it. You love to see everyone on this list, to be honest.
As you can see, there are big names everywhere – punters can also look forward to seeing the likes of Alfie Templeman and Baby Queen; Lauran Hibberd and Ten Tonnes, as well as Far Caspian and Brooke Combe, just to name a few.
There’s plenty of Mancunian music being represented as well, with Corella, Afflecks Palace, The Covasettes and The Stanleys all repping 0161.
Neighbourhood Festival 22 Venues
One of the best parts about Neighbourhood Fest is that aside from the acts themselves, there are some seriously mint venues on the list every year, from gig-going favourites to some locations you may have never seen live music before or even been full-stop.
Here is the full list of Neighbourhood venues we know of so far:
Manchester Academy 1 and 2 (14+)
Albert Hall (14+)
The Deaf Institute (14+)
O2 Ritz Manchester (14+)
Revolution – Oxford Road (14+ until 9pm, then 18+)
Bunny Jacksons (14+ until 9pm, then 18+)
YES – The Basement and The Pink Room (18+)
The Bread Shed (14+)
The Zombie Shack (18+)
That being said, it’s still worth keeping your eye out on social for any updates as more special guests and surprise appearances are expected, and who knows where they could pop up?
For instance, we already know that Hard-Fi will be playing their first gig in eight whole years at the brand-spanking New Century which we peeped not long ago. It’s quite an impressive space, guys.
Ah, the dreaded stage splits. They cause us inevitable headaches every year but they’re a necessary evil.
Want to know who’ll you manage to see and who’ll you have to prepare yourself for potentially missing? We do the dirty work so you don’t have to:
Are there any Neighbourhood tickets still left?
Put simply, yes, but you better get moving if you wanna snap the remaining few up.
Tickets for Neighbourhood Festival 2022 will set you back £39.50 face value (£43.45 all told with your booking fee) from their official retailer, Gigs and Tours. Wheelchair access tickets are also available.
Not only is that a much more affordable option for those who didn’t want to fork out more than £115 for the two-day pass at Neighbourhood Weekender back in May, but the wristband grants you access to every single venue on the list.
Even a one-day ticket at Weekender cost £59.50 + booking fee, whereas with Neighbourhood Fest you still get the chance to see some serious box office names at Neighbourhood Fest for less money. More spare pennies for food and pints, init.
It’s also worth noting that you can grab tickets on the day as a last resort, but we’d obviously advise getting yourself sorted before then.
As announced on Wednesday, this year’s box office and wristband exchange will be located at the University of Manchester Students Union building (M13 9PR) – the Lime Grove entrance, to be specific.
This will be open from 9.30am and will close promptly at 7.30pm, meaning there will be no wristbands issued after this time, so we would obviously recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the large queues.
Organisers also had some important top tips to share with you:
Last but not least, make sure to keep a lookout on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram for the latest updates and, most importantly, grab your tickets HERE while you still can.
A Manc’s guide to: the Heatons, Stockport’s flourishing suburbs
While the likes of Stockport‘s ‘Old Town’ revival has seen the borough slowly brought back to life in recent years, it’s easy to forget that it includes a number of attractive suburbs that have become increasingly popular destinations to live in Greater Manchester.
Besides the investment in the town centre’s Merseyway shopping district and Redrock opened back in 2017, many people have long been stopping short of places like Didsbury, Chorlton and Manchester city centre in favour of SK’s best-kept secret: the Heatons.
The Four Heatons – comprised of Heaton Chapel, Mersey, Moor and Norris – are a collection of neighbourhoods dotted around Stockport and situated some 30 mins or so from the city centre that many in the region may have never visited before.
With Heaton Chapel your go-to train station and East Didsbury your closest tram stop, it isn’t hard to venture out that way, but what is there to get up to?
Parks a plenty
If those precious green spaces are what you are looking for then you’re pretty spoilt for choice. Ironically, the famous Heaton Park is the only one that isn’t in the Heatons, but all these are.
First up is Heaton Moor Park, a lovely green space that dates back to 1894 and is still wonderfully maintained by local residents to this day. As well as the customary gardens and children’s play area, you can do everything from bird watching and group knitting to family bowling or joining the running club.
Heaton Norris Park has bowling greens, tennis courts and football pitches if you’re looking to stay active, as well as a playground for the youngens; Heaton Mersey Common is a nice little pocket of natural greenspace with serene ponds and wildflower meadows, perfect for walking the dog.
But the fresh air doesn’t stop there: you also have Thornfield Park, Heaton Mersey Park & Bowl, Marbury Road Park in Chapel; Maunders Field, Bowerfold Open Space and, perhaps the most popular of the lot, Mersey Vale Nature Park.
Nestled among the remnants of the old railways and bleach works, Mersey Vale is a 2.5-mile loop that serves as a great place for a picnic, riverside walk or to just to enjoy the wildlife, and the Trans Pennine Trail actually runs right through the centre of the reserve which lies along a serene stretch of the River Mersey.
Historic sites to see and plenty to do
It isn’t all grass and shrubs, of course, the Four Heatons are steeped in history and culture thanks to its Cheshire heritage and evolution under a Greater Manchester postcode.
Undoubtedly the most historic landmark is the iconic Savoy Cinema, which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2023. Having nearly disappeared following a fire back in 1953 and changed hands on multiple occasions down the years, the Savoy in Heaton Moor has remained a proud local institution throughout.
It was shut for a major refurbishment in late 2014 but, thankfully, it opened back up a year later and is still going strong, showing all the latest releases as well as old classics to suit the vintage aesthetic. They offer everything from private hire to dementia-friendly screenings – a real gem.
Another popular location is the Heatons Sports Club. It’s the home of areas local cricket, rugby, tennis and lacrosse clubs, some of which date back to as far as 1879. Whether you want to get involved or just sit back and watch live sport, be it in front of you or on the telly, there’s something to do every day. There’s also the Heaton Moor Gold Club just five minutes down the road if that’s your thing – perfect for birthdays, work events and so on.
Speaking of the Sports Club, you’ve also got Heatons Comedy Evening on the first Sunday of every month, the longest-running of its kind in Stockport. Resident comperes Alun Cochrane and local comedy legend Justin Moorhouse have garnered a loyal following since its conception in 2010.
The best part is, it’s only getting bigger. With the likes of John Bishop, Sarah Millican, Joe Lycett, Romesh Ranganathan and more having already left audiences in stitches, Moorhouse’s comedy night is one of the best places to catch both headline acts and the best upcoming talent.
Let’s talk shop. Home and fashion-wise, you can find nifty little local traders like the Moo Boutique and Bloom and Dots in Heaton Moor, not to mention one of the best-named wine bars in the world, Cork of the North. You’ll be sure to find plenty of bottles to take home with you.
There is also Heaton Hops and The Beer Shop in Mersey too. You won’t be surprised to know they very much do what they say on the tin.
We were sad to hear Bernie’s Grocery Store shut down in June 2022 but, thankfully, their Altrincham site isn’t going anywhere; you also have lots of alternatives and similar general store vibes courtesy of Feed in Heaton Chapel and The Good Life in Heaton Mersey.
Lastly, we can’t mention Heaton stores without giving a shout out to Back’s Deli and beloved Mancunian chain, Martin’s Bakery: two of the best local food staples that always guarantee the warm and friendly reception of an independent business whilst delivering insane quality and consistency.
And that brings us to the lifeblood of any good Manc destination: where to eat and drink.
There’s plenty of food and drink in the Heatons
From wine bars and traditional pubs to a premium fish restaurant hidden behind a local fishmonger’s counter, the Heatons have plenty to offer foodies on the hunt for something new.
Cork of the North
This Heaton Moor wine shop and bar is known for its regular tasting events, which offer guests the chance to sample six delicious wines (three reds and three whites) alongside a selection of complementary nibbles, but you can book a table to sit in, drink and graze any time.
The Easy Fish Co.
This quality fourth-generation fishmonger also has a restaurant tucked behind its counter and serves all your chippy tea favourites, alongside the likes of satay monkfish and roasted turbot, crab croquettes and herb-rolled tuna carpaccio.
Originally a deli, this popular Heaton eaterie has a relaxed European feel with a tapas menu served until 10pm. Throughout the day, you can also tuck into a selection of breakfast and lunch dishes that cater to veggies just as well as meat eaters.
This suburban tapas bar in the middle ofHeaton Moor serves a great selection of Spanish gin, alongside traditional regional tapas and a range of imported wines and beers. From Spanish black pudding (morcilla) to courgette ravioli stuffed with goat’s cheese, there’s a huge choice on offer mixing the typical with the unusual.
This cosy pub boasts a great atmosphere, solid grub and a regular quiz night every Thursday at 7pm that’s proven popular with young professionals in the area. Dog friendly too, it’s known for its burgers and epic Sunday roasts with giant Yorkshire puddings.
That Pizza Place
Widely considered to be the best pizza in Heaton Moor, if you’ve got a hankering for a bit of tomato and cheese then this is the place to be.
If one of the Heatons manages to cast a spell on you and the prospect of a move arises, it’s worth knowing how much you’d be looking at paying.
As for Heaton Chapel, the prices skew slightly lower at around £815.75pcm and Norris is even more affordable at around £755, as per Rentberry stats from July 2022.
Now, if you were looking to buy, four districts is a fairly large search area give but you’re easily looking at north of £300,000 in Heaton Moor and Mersey, but prices often break the £400k mark quite comfortably given its up-and-coming reputation. One local told the MEN that she’s heard the area described as ‘Didsbury for those that really know Manchester’.
Once again, Norris and Chapel offer a cheaper option when it comes to the property market, with terraces being the most popular type of home and going for anywhere between £200,000-280,000. That being said, you could still land your forever home starting from around £270,000-£330,000-ish.
Of course, these prices are based on average estimates but take them with a pinch of salt as you’re always likely to end up paying more, especially in this current climate.
Nevertheless, whether you’re looking for somewhere to settle down or a part of Greater Manchester you still perhaps have given enough time to yet, make the Heatons the next one you cross off your list.
You can check out our Manc’s guide to Chinatown and the Gay Village now and, as always, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more neighbourhood guides soon.