Castlefield, Manchester

Creative Tourist

The Roman General Julius Agricola founded ‘Mamucium’ in 79AD; the name means ‘breast shaped hill’, as this was what Agricola discovered in Castlefield, where the original settlement was based. Now, the fort that was built here – protected by the Rivers Irwell and Medlock – only survives in ruins, and the amphitheatre is a modern one, built to host occasional outdoor gigs.

Canals are a key feature in the area; Castlefield was the terminus of the Bridgewater Canal, the world’s first industrial canal, the success of which inspired ‘canal mania’ in Britain.

You’ll see all of this history written into Castlefield as you walk through the area, but more obvious will be the vibrant cultural offer here. A major player is the ambitious cultural complex of HOME, whose innovative cross-arts programming rivals that of any in the city. The Museum of Science and Industry (housed in the magnificent buildings of the world’s first passenger railway) is another big draw, as is the small but influential Castlefield Gallery.

But for all the cultural activity, the area is actually a pretty tranquil one. That’s thanks, in part, to its designation in 1982 as the UK’s first Urban Heritage Park, which safeguarded canals and cobbles and created a largely traffic-free zone. Its moored-up, flower-decked canal boats are evidence of the slower pace of life here — relatively speaking of course… we’re not the Cotswolds.

But yes, it’s probably the most charming area in central Manchester, and one that’s full of things to do. Here are nine (yes, nine seems like a nice round number) suggestions, taking in both culture and food and drink.

Our top picks

Science and Industry Museum

Science and Industry Museum, Liverpool Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4FP - Visit now

Dedicated to inspiring visitors through revolutionary, world-changing ideas, the Science and Industry Museum pairs historic sites (inluding the world’s first inter-city passenger railway) with a dynamic, contemporary science programme.

Image courtesy of Science and Industry Museum.

HOME Manchester

HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now

With two theatres, five cinema screens, a large gallery, bar, café and bookshop, HOME is one of the city’s leading destination venues, and a vibrant hub of creativity.

HOME Manchester
Paul Karalius

Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4GB - Visit now

With its forward-thinking schedule of exhibitions, this small but influential contemporary art gallery opened in 1984 and has become a key part of the North of England’s cultural fabric.

Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Castlefield Gallery

Castlefield Viaduct

Castlefield Viaduct, Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester, M3 4PU - Visit now

Castlefield Viaduct is a grade II listed, late-19th century steel structure, on the way to becoming a green ‘sky park’ in the heart of historic Manchester.

Castlefield Viaduct by JJ.

Castlefield Bowl

Castlefield Bowl, Rice St, Manchester, M3 4JR - Visit now

Castlefield Bowl is an 8000-capacity outdoor events pavilion that’s played host to everyone from Kylie to The Streets.

Cask

Cask, 29 Liverpool Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4NQ

Cask is a well-loved, traditional-meets-modern pub on Liverpool Road, with an excellent selection of continental beers and a cosy beer garden. Top tip — pick up something beige from the chippy next door and take it into the pub. There’s something of a symbiotic relationship going on between the two places.

Ben Williams

Duke’s 92

Duke’s 92, 18 Castle Street
Castlefield, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4LZ - Visit now

Duke’s 92 is one of our favourite pubs — a canal-side suntrap that’s the ideal place to take in surrounding Castlefield’s charms. There aren’t many better places to drink outside in Manchester.

Cibo

Cibo, 3-11 Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4NW - Visit now

Got a hankering for an Italian? You could do worse than Cibo, which serves up modern Italian food in snazzy city centre surroundings.

Atlas Bar

Atlas Bar, 376 Deansgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 4LY - Visit now

With the biggest gin selection in the city, Atlas Bar is a must for any fan of the clear stuff. The Gin Bible here ensures that you have an up to date list of everything on offer, with tasting notes to help you decide.

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