Meet the crafty Whitefield man building Manchester’s memorable landmarks in miniature

Ric Facchin makes miniature reproductions of some of Manchester’s most colourful shop fronts
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Some people have used lockdown to learn a new skill or get fit. But few people can have used their spare time more productively than Ric Facchin.

Whilst others have been busy running, baking or just watching box sets, thirty-something Ric has used all that spare time to set up his very own building company.

But Manchester Builds is no ordinary building company.

Manchester Builds – Ric, that is- recreates some of Manchester’s most distinctive buildings in miniature. Not famous buildings you’d find in tourist guides or on Trip Adviser like Central Library or the Royal Exchange.

His replicas are miniature reproductions of some of Manchester’s most colourful shop fronts – tiny shops, tiny bars and tiny takeaways, mostly in and around some of the grittier parts of the Northern Quarter.

“I like the weathered look mixed in with years of city centre grime and rot and then topped off with graffiti or street art of which there is an abundance in the NQ at the moment,” he says.

It all started late last year when Ric decided he’d like some framed pictures of the doorways of iconic Manchester buildings to display in his home.

“I’d picked around twenty from the likes of the huge Victorian door at Charter Street Ragged School all the way through to some of the lesser known doors around the Northern Quarter like the emerald tiled entrance to the Marsden Harcombe building.”

Then he taught himself how to build models.

“Whilst everyone else was cracking on with some programme about a bloke who was a tiger killer, I watched around 25 hours of YouTube videos about building models.”

The result was his first model – the Arndale Book & Magazine Exchange on Shudehill.

 

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At first, he was making the models for his own pleasure. Then he started to receive commissions.

The replicas are on a scale of 1:18 and 1:24 – roughly the size of a doll’s house.  So, for example, the replica of the Shudehill Book Club is around 44cm (17in) high when framed.

The attention to detail is staggering, right down to finding the right font for the signage. In fact, they are so realistic it’s hard to tell them apart from the actual shop fronts.

Left: the miniature model. Right: the legit building. Or is it the other way around…?

They feature tiny street signs, fire alarms, miniature books in window displays, bags of rubbish waiting to be collected – even a miniature Manchester Evening News on a miniature Manchester pavement.

A replica of Lou Macari’s chippy near Old Trafford has a shutter with a poster for the first ever Parklife festival in Platt Fields on June 12th 2010.

https://twitter.com/mcrbuilds/status/1230528361740587008?s=21

Ric makes everything  from scratch in the kitchen of his Whitefield home using everyday items and materials found around the house like styrene and styrofoam backed with MDF. He uses paracetamol plastic casing for exterior fire bells.

“It’s surreal the amount of items around a house that can be utilised,” says Ric.

Other models he has built include Café Marhaba (his favourite ‘rice and three’ takeaway), The Love Boutique on Tib Street (Over 18s Only), and the back doors of Dry201. And the actual Shudehill Book Centre may have closed but Ric has captured it for posterity in miniature.

His favourite piece is The Love Boutique because it’s windowless (making window frames is time consuming).

A build takes around two weeks. The price depends on the complexity of the job. Anything from £70 for a small front with the shutters firmly closed whilst a unique shop front can cost up to £290.

The commissions keep coming –  Night and Day, Rambo’s Johnny Roadhouse on Oxford Road and Peveril of the Peak – so it looks like Manchester Builds is a hobby that’s turning into a job.

“Lockdown has given me the perfect opportunity to invest more time into Manchester Builds and now I get to do something I love”.

Now how many people can say that?

What do YOU think?

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