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Manchester in pictures: photographer Paul Burton shares his favourite pics

'People are often surprised to hear that I don’t own a ‘real’ camera!' says Paul, whose stunning images are captured on an iPhone

Paul Burton is an iPhone photographer with a particular focus on Manchester city centre.

“People are often surprised to hear that I don’t own a ‘real’ camera!” he says.

“I am Manchester born, Stockport raised and living in Saddleworth – music, visual arts, football and beer is what makes me tick and I spent my formative years playing bass in a band around all of Manchester’s live music venues.

“With a young family and demanding job, taking, editing and posting images on social media allows me in some part to scratch a creative itch.

“I still can’t believe that there are people out there who want to see my phone images and this keeps me sharing.

“I hope to get a ‘real’ camera in the near future and would like to do something more with my images, particularly with a view to helping raise money for local charities… so watch this space!

“My Instagram account is for the most part my homage to Manchester and I am delighted to share five of my favourite images from the last 12 months or so, as I take a lunch hour stroll around town.”

Here Paul picks five of his favourite images and explains why he chose them – as well as sharing some fascinating facts about each location.

Barton Arcade

Tucked away between Deansgate and St Ann’s Square, Barton Arcade is a true jewel in Manchester’s crown having been extensively restored in the 1980’s.

This Grade II listed Victorian shopping arcade in all its cast iron and glass splendour is (in my opinion) the best place for a coffee or a haircut in Manchester. 

I have dealt with Barton Arcade several times over the years as part of my day job, but, until recently, have never been able to capture its essence in a phone image.

However, I do hope this image goes someway in conveying the feel of the place as the sunlight cascades in though the magnificent glass dome.

Fact: The arcade and glass dome were damaged during the December 1940 Manchester Blitz.

Cambridge Street towards The Ritz

A twenty minute walk south brings you to Cambridge Street and quite often, different weather!

I like this image – puddles, double yellow lines, graffiti, low viewpoint and a stonking bit of Victorian engineering.

I now recognise that I am subconsciously drawn to leading lines and foreground interest as compositional devices.

This location signals the start of my favourite few streets in town for taking pictures.

Fact: Lily Maxwell, the first woman in England to vote, ran a tea and china shop here.

The Hotspur Press, Cambridge Street

Do a 180 degree turn and you will be met with The Hotspur Press in all its dilapidated red brick Victorian splendour.

The warehouse was formerly used as a cotton mill, before being taken over by printing company Percy Brothers who for over 70 years printed a huge variety of popular comic books from here. 

This is my favourite Manchester building.

Seemingly always on the cusp of redevelopment, it will be a shame once it is inevitably converted (presumably into student/residential accommodation) but is obviously necessary.

Let’s hope that any redevelopment is sympathetic and preserves that fantastic façade and signage.

Fact: This and the two other mills previously on Cambridge Street were connected by underground tram tunnels to allow unimpeded movement of materials between them.

The Salisbury Pub

Just around the corner, The Salisbury sits at the bottom of a cobbled street beside the railway viaduct that runs into Oxford Road Station, with an adjacent steep set of steps up to Oxford Road Station. 

I have always been fascinated with pubs – the buildings the people, the stories – and this is a great example of a moody Mancunian backstreet boozer.

Fond recollections of raucous nights in The Salisbury or not so fond recollections of failed attempts to negotiate the treacherous steps down from the station, images of this location always generate so many memories.

This image was taken during lockdown as evidenced by the face masks and the boarded up pub windows, which I think gives it a slight melancholy feel.

I think that the aspect ratio works well here and is something I am trying more and more notwithstanding Instagram’s limitations.

Even on a bright day this location feels like a throwback to a by-gone era.

Fact: As the plaque on the outside wall says, the pub once sat within one of the poorest areas of Manchester known as Little Ireland because of the nationality of the majority of its residents. 

Spinningfields, towards The Ivy

Back to the office after lunch. I have worked in the Spinningfields area of town since late 2006 and am a real estate partner in a Manchester law firm.

During such time I have seen the area change dramatically, particularly during and after the 2008 recession and more recently, the pandemic. 

With its modern combination of greys, metals, glass, neon food and drink outlet signs and greasy looking walkways, I particularly like the reflections (it’s always wet!) and symmetry here.

In terms of leading lines, this part of town takes some beating.

This image shows the fantastic “IHeartYouManchester” installation at The Ivy which was erected at the back end of 2020, with the imposing No.1 Spinningfields in the background.

The timber framed building housing The Ivy forms a dramatic contrast with the surrounding steel and aluminium, and is a popular focal point for the area.

Fact: The rooftop restaurant/bar ‘20 Stories‘ is actually on the 19th floor of the No 1 Spinningfields building and has the highest commercial kitchen in Manchester. In my opinion, it also has Manchester’s best toilet view!

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