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Looking back on 30 years of change in Manchester with one of the city’s most respected estate agents

We are taking a trip down memory lane to see how our city has changed over the last 30 years, with one of the city's most respected estate agents, Julie Twist.

As Julie Twist Properties marks its 30th anniversary, Julie reflects on the incredible transformations that have shaped some of Manchester’s most iconic neighbourhoods over the last thirty years.

From Salford to the Northern Quarter, Salford Quays, Castlefield, and The Village, these areas have undergone remarkable changes, evolving into bustling communities where people aspire to live, work, and thrive.

Join us as we explore these dynamic changes with Julie Twist, one of Manchester’s most respected estate agents, and discover the stories behind the stunning evolution of these key locations over the past three decades.

The city is barely unrecognisable in some of these amazing archive photos – and you can see for yourself just how far the city has come.

30 years of change in Manchester


Salford is a vibrant area, just a stone’s throw from Manchester City Centre, including neighbourhoods like Blackfriars, Ordsall, and central Salford.

The Iconic Salford Lads Club

These areas are just across the River Irwell, offering easy access to Manchester’s shopping and business districts.

Popular with young professionals, Salford offers affordable prices and proximity to both Manchester and Salford Universities.

Pendleton is currently undergoing a major 10-year regeneration plan, providing new and refurbished homes.

Ordsall boasts popular apartment blocks like Quay 5, The Mill, and Lowry Wharf.

Salford Cathedral
The beautiful Salford Cathedral – photo credit:

Salford features landmarks such as the Lowry Centre and Salford Cathedral, along with convenient shopping at Salford Shopping Precinct and various retail parks.

The area is well-connected by two train stations, Salford Central and Salford Crescent, and major roads like the A6, A580, and A57, providing easy access to the M602/M62 towards Liverpool.

Julie’s View: “Salford is a fantastic starting point to get on the property ladder, with more affordable prices than Manchester City Centre, offering some excellent rental yields.

“Many properties are within walking distance of Manchester and offer parking and gardens which are in short supply elsewhere.”

Salford Quays

Salford Quays pre-Lowry

Transformed from old dockyards, Salford Quays is now a bustling area featuring a world-class media hub, luxurious waterfront developments, and landmark arts venues.

Looking good, Salford Quays

The area offers scenic dockland views and traffic-free promenades.

Home to cultural landmarks like The Lowry and Imperial War Museum North, the Quays also offer shopping at the Lowry Outlet Mall, various restaurants, and a multi-screen cinema.

How Salford Quays used to look
How Salford Quays looked in the 90s

The Metrolink provides comprehensive transport links, connecting to MediaCityUK, home to BBC, ITV, and more.

The Lowry
The Lowry is part of a vibrant Salford Quays today

Salford Quays also boasts recreational facilities like the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, hosting activities like sailing, rowing, and wakeboarding.

Nearby is Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, and the area features stylish apartments and ongoing developments to meet growing demand.

Julie’s View: “Thirty years ago this area was very different, it was always windy but that’s not much different, there was such a range of houses and apartments, a pub, a watersport centre and not much else!

“The metro wasn’t there and it was a bit far to walk to Manchester.

“That said you could certainly get more for your money and felt like you were a million miles from the stresses of the city.

“Fast forward 30 years it’s the beating heart of the Greater Manchester media scene.

“Salford Quays never fails to deliver.

“From stage productions, fabulous dining experiences and shopping therapy, to water sports adventures, and stunning waterfront scenery not to mention its proximity to Manchester United!”

Northern Quarter

Oldham Street

The Northern Quarter is a trendy, Bohemian neighbourhood beloved by young professionals and students for its vibrant atmosphere.

The area is known for its unique independent bars and restaurants, and stunning apartments like Smithfield Buildings, which sold Manchester’s first £300,000 apartment in 1996.

NQ is a vibrant and interesting place today

From gyms to convenience stores and the iconic Afflecks emporium, the Northern Quarter offers a quirky charm.

It is conveniently located near the main shopping area, with excellent public transport options including buses, and trams, and proximity to Piccadilly Train and Bus stations.

The Northern Quarter played host to Chanel’s fashion show last year

Julie’s View: “The Northern Quarter is the Notting Hill of Manchester with record stores, quirky cafes and independent bars.

It attracts a diverse crowd of artists, musicians and young professionals.

“I remember getting breakfast for those people who had slept overnight to get their hands on the apartments in Smithfield Buildings, this area has so much to offer.

“You’ll never get bored here.”


Castlefield is a picturesque and historical area known for its canals, Roman ruins, and preserved industrial heritage.

It offers a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, with scenic walks along the waterways, green spaces, and a selection of waterfront bars and restaurants.

Castlefield Viaduct

With the beautiful addition of the Castlefield Viaduct, and being a stone’s throw away from the buzzing Castlefield Bowl – this is one of the city’s highlights, without a doubt.

Castlefield is perfect for those who appreciate history and nature while still being close to the heart of the city centre.

Julie Twist Properties
Pic Graham Joy Photography

The area often hosts outdoor events, making it a lively yet relaxed part of Manchester.

The area became a residential hub in the late 1980s with developments like Castle Quay and Middle Warehouse.

Julie Twist Properties
The iconic Atlas Bar in amongst the new Deansgate Square towers

Offering a mix of warehouse conversions and modern builds, Castlefield provides tranquil living spaces with easy access to bars, restaurants, and the city centre via a pedestrian bridge.

Transport is excellent, with the M602 to Liverpool, the ring road to the M56, and Manchester International Airport nearby.

Deansgate station is a key stop for Metro and rail lines.

Julie’s View: “Castlefield is an amazingly tranquil part of the city, an unspoiled area with cobbled streets and fantastic water views, over the years the boundaries of Castlefield have been stretched as everyone wants this address.”

The Village

Can you believe this is what Canal Street used to look like?

The Village, one of the UK’s most famous gay quarters, offers vibrant nightlife and charming property conversions around Canal Street.

Known for its rich history and annual Manchester Pride festival, the Village has transformed from an industrial area to a lively and inclusive community.

What a beautiful and vibrant place it is today

Living spaces in the Village range from Granby Village with its exclusive swimming pool and gym, to stylish conversions on Sackville, Whitworth, and Bloom Streets.

Julie Twist Properties
That’s much better.

Despite limited parking, its central location means a car isn’t necessary.

Julie’s View: “The Village is always bustling with activity, making it perfect for those who want to be in the heart of the action.

“It’s a unique and fascinating area, 42-44 Sackville Street was one of the early developments I sold, it was one of those developments you fell in love with.”

How Manchester has changed in the last 30 years

Julie Twist Properties
A modern, and ever-evolving city

In the last three decades, Manchester has undergone impressive changes in its main neighbourhoods.

From the historic allure of Castlefield to the lively culture of the Northern Quarter and the exciting developments in Salford and Salford Quays, each area presents its distinct appeal.

Julie Twist said that she was ‘incredibly proud’ to have been heavily involved in parts of this transformation, seeing many derelict buildings turn into luxury accommodations and vast car parks grow into apartments with incredible views.

The tallest building in Manchester… back in 1990

She said: “In the 1990s I think the tallest building was the CIS Tower in the Northern quarter at 25 storeys tall.

“I just wish sometimes that the younger generation could visualise what it was and the hard work that has gone into creating the city it is today.

“And it is, an incredible city.”

For more detailed area guides, visit Julie Twist Properties’ website here and discover how Manchester has evolved into one of the UK’s most exciting cities to live in.

You can find out more about Julie Twist Properties by clicking here

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