Signing off. Thanks everyone!

601-0115-00197 Spencer at MSM cropped

Making Making Manchester was a lot of fun, and I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped in any way with the series. ALL FM 96.9 is a great community radio station and it was a privilege to work with them. The Institution of Civil Engineers is a fantastic organisation and I feel proud to have been in a position to tell some of the stories of the amazing things its members have done and are doing in and around Manchester – things which have literally helped shape the life of the city from the onset of the industrial revolution, and continue to make life better in various ways today. And huge thanks to all the people in all the organisations, from the Canal & River Trust to Manchester Airports Group, from Network Rail and HS2 Ltd to Manchester City Council and Manchester City FC, who contributed to the programmes.

Thanks to the Manchester Evening News for working with us and publishing the various tie-in articles, and thanks to everyone who contributed to that series, from the Museum of Science and Industry to United Utilities and Transport for Greater Manchester, and from ICE President Sir John Armitt to sports architecture historian Simon Inglis.

Most of all, thanks to everyone for listening, and for the overwhelmingly positive feedback. Hundreds of people have used the listen-again function on Mixcloud, thousands have watched the videos, and all of these will remain available for the foreseeable future.

Since the programmes were broadcast, some of the places featured in them have been in the news. Manchester Victoria Station’s refurbishment went on to win ICE North West’s Large Project of the Year award, and of course Metrolink has continued to grow and prosper. Manchester’s inland canals have become the oldest civil engineering landmark to sign up to ICE’s public awareness campaign #ThisIsCivilEngineering, and several historic engineering works featured in the series have been nominated for the North West Civil Engineering Heritage Award, including the Thirlmere Aqueduct. Also on the heritage front, the Peel Group very fittingly minted a special medal to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of James Brindley – the man who engineered the Bridgewater Canal – and I felt deeply honoured to receive one on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers North West.

The Institution of Civil Engineers will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2018, and some of the stories it will tell as part of that celebration will again feature Manchester, a city with a truly pioneering heritage, and doubtless a great engineering future.


Theatres of Dreams


As the Making Manchester series builds towards a close, we feature the city’s sports infrastructure in a two-part special called Theatres of Dreams: The civil engineering behind a great sporting city.

Part 1, first broadcast on 19 September 2016, features an extended interview with Simon Inglis, a leading historian of sports architecture and a former member of both the Football Licensing Authority and the Football Stadia Advisory Design Council, covering the remarkable development of Old Trafford Football Ground from 1910, and how its development has helped shape English football as a business, and of Manchester United FC as a global brand.

Part 2, first broadcast on 26 September 2016 and based on insider interviews, looks at three more of the city’s key stadiums: Emirates Old Trafford, home of Lancashire County Cricket Club since 1864 and in recent years a classic example of business diversification around a sports club; the Manchester Velodrome, home of British Cycling since 1994, and one of the keys to the acsendancy of Britain’s world-leading cycling team in recent years; and finally the Etihad Stadium, originally built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and now the home of Manchester City FC.

There’s also a taster video, and both programmes can be accessed on Mixcloud.

Moving Manchester on Mixcloud


Today’s edition of Making Manchester was broadcast by ALL FM 96.9 as scheduled, and an extended cut of the programme is now on Mixcloud.

Moving Manchester: Planes, trams and smart motorways tells the stories of Manchester’s biggest current transport infrastructure projects: Manchester Airport’s expansion (based on an interview with MAG’s Director of Planning John Twigg), Manchester Smart Motorways (based on an interview with MSM’s Project Director Dave Emery) and Metrolink’s expansion (based on interviews with Cllr Andrew Fender of Manchester City Council and Peter Cushing, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director).

Next week’s Making Manchester will be the first of a two-part programme called Theatres of Dreams: The civil engineering behind a great sporting city.


Unfortunately, due to a technical issue today’s Making Manchester programme will not be broadcast as scheduled.

The programme will air on ALL FM 96.9 and at 0900-1000 a.m. next Monday instead (12 September).

We hope you’ll be able to join us then. In the meantime, we’ll be publishing another of the videos associated with the programme – so watch out for our video on Manchester Smart Motorways.

Sincere apologies, but we hope you’ll find the programme worth waiting for!

The Metrolink story

Ahead of our next programme Moving Manchester: Trams, planes and smart motorways, here’s a short video featuring clips from the interviews in the programme.

Cllr Andrew Fender of Manchester City Council was involved with Metrolink from its inception in the 1980s, and recounts for us the saga of transforming Metrolink from a drawing-board idea to being the UK’s biggest tram network.

Peter Cushing, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director, tells us about some of the engineering challenges faced in putting the system’s current seven lines and 93 stops into place over a twenty-year period.

The short video gives a flavour of the longer story in the ALL FM radio programme.

Thanks to Manchester String Quartet and Glucose Records for their kind permission to use their “Happy” in this video and others in the series.


New video: The Origins of Manchester Airport

DSC00871Next Monday ALL FM 96.9 will broadcast the next programme in this series: Moving Manchester: Trams, planes and smart motorways. The programme discusses Manchester’s biggest three ongoing transport infrastructure projects.

As a taster, here’s a video on The Origins of Manchester Airport, featuring John Twigg, Planning Director at Manchester Airports Group.

You can hear the full interview with John on Monday morning’s programme, 0900-1000 on ALL FM 96.9 or or later via Mixcloud.

And look out for the Manchester Evening News on Saturday 3 September, which will carry an article on Metrolink to tie-in with Monday’s programme.


Series resumes 5 September

DSC00871The Making Manchester radio series is set to resume on ALL FM 96.9 from Monday 5 September  with a programme called Moving Manchester: Trams, planes and smart motorways. The programme will look at Greater Manchester’s three biggest ongoing transport infrastructure projects.

Since our last programme, Manchester Airport has become the first UK airport to operate direct, scheduled flights from anywhere outside London to mainland China. Meanwhile work has continued on the Manchester Smart Motorways project, and Transport for Greater Manchester has forged ahead with Metrolink’s Second City Crossing, with the new St Peter’s Square stop due to open at the end of August.

So Moving Manchester will recount the history of Manchester Airport from the early days of grass airstrips and airport facilities converted from barns and farmhouses, with a look at the airport’s future development based on an interview with John Twigg (pictured), Planning Director of Manchester Airports Group which now owns three other airports around England.

Next we’ll visit Manchester Smart Motorways and find out from project manager David Emery just what is a smart motorway, how does it work, and what are the challenges involved in making one of the UK’s busiest roads smart while it’s still carrying all that traffic.

And we’ll be discussing how Greater Manchester was given a brand-new tramway network in the space of 20 years – a story of the single-minded determination of local politicians in the face of all obstacles, and of the everyday ingenuity of civil engineers in converting railways, building bridges and driving tramways through busy town centres to create the UK’s biggest new tram network. In the programme we’ll hear from Cllr Andrew Fender, Manchester City Council’s transport portfolio holder who has steered Metrolink’s development from its inception, and Peter Cushing, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director, on the civil engineering challenges.

As usual, the programme will air first on ALL FM 96.9 and 0900-1000 on the Monday morning (5 September), and the recording will be available thereafter on Mixcloud.

And in the meantime…

Following a break, Making Manchester is scheduled to resume in the summer. The next programme – Moving Manchester: Planes, trams and smart motorways – will look at the ongoing development of Manchester Airport and the Airport City project; the continuing expansion of Metrolink, which now serves seven of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs; and the Manchester Smart Motorways project.

In the meantime the Institution of Civil Engineers has today published this new video – screened for the first time last night at the ICE North West Annual Awards dinner in Carlisle – which has a quick look at some of the projects featured in the Making Manchester series, as well as others from around North West England.

The video’s called Civil engineering in North West England: Some of the jewels in the crown. Those jewels include Manchester Victoria Station’s £44m redevelopment, which at last night’s ICE Awards swept away the coveted Large Project Award.

The video also has a brief look at the Mersey Gateway Bridge, mentioned in The seaport 40 miles from the sea, and the Metrolink and Manchester Smart Motorways projects which will feature in the next Making Manchester programme.

Enjoy the video, and watch this space for the date of Making Manchester‘s return.

The rise, decline and renaissance of the Manchester Ship Canal

Ahead of next week’s programme The seaport 40 miles from the sea, here’s a preview video featuring clips of the people we interviewed.

The full story will be broadcast on ALL FM 96.9 and 0900-1000 on Monday 1 February 2016 and will be available later on Mixcloud.





The seaport 40 miles from the sea


Next week’s edition of Making Manchester broadens the focus somewhat. In fact it’s as much about Salford, Trafford, Warrington and Liverpool as it is about Manchester. That’s because it’s about the Manchester Ship Canal and the Atlantic Gateway.

In The seaport 40 miles from the sea, we look at how the inland city of Manchester became Britain’s third busiest seaport.

And if the story starts with the intense rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool, it’s also a story of those cities’ interdependency as Lancashire’s two greatest economic centres. And in looking to the future, the story ends with how those two cities are becoming increasingly interdependent. In the era of globalisation, a region’s combined “offer” to the world is much more powerful than that of its individual component cities could be.

Of course there’s the Northern Powerhouse; but Atlantic Gateway pre-empted the Northern Powerhouse, insofar as Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester are concerned – the territory that straddles the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal – because Atlantic Gateway, as we’ll hear in next week’s Making Manchester, is bringing a joined-up, collaborative approach to the development of infrastructure in this part of the world.

And it should be quite a transformation, as we’re talking about infrastructure developments totalling £14 billion, associated with 250,000 jobs.

The programme features interviews with Carmel Booth of Atlantic Gateway (pictured), Mayor of Salford Ian Stewart, Leader of Warrington Borough Council Cllr Terry O’Neill, former head of the North West Development Agency Professor Steven Broomhead, plus Dr Julian Holder of Salford University, Professor Walter Menzies of the Manchester and Pennine Waterways Partnership and Mark Basnett of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

First broadcast will be at 0900-1000 GMT on ALL FM 96.9 and The recording will be available later on Mixcloud.

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