BOX CLEVER...Box on the Docks sounds like the sort of reality TV show concept Alan Partridge might have come up with. Airing live from a different UK port every week, hard-up celebrities pull on a pair of 8oz gloves and embark on three rounds of pain and humiliation. They battle it out for a nominal fee in a ring fashioned from the rusted hull of an abandoned fishing boat until the referee, probably Bill Oddie, steps in and puts them out of their misery by declaring a winner.
Alas, as enjoyable as that would be, the actual Box on the Docks venture is something altogether different. Launching at MediaCityUK at the end of the month, the scheme involves the installation of 30 dining pods, allowing customers to visit participating restaurants, like Dockyard and The Alchemist, and enjoy their food from the comfort of their own, private dining room. Taking the form of sheds and greenhouses, the pods, which will be decorated by local artists, aim to help MediaCityUK’s bars and restaurants bounce back from the months of lockdown.
CONTACT THEATRE…As the name suggests, this is a touching story for an industry in dire need of some positive news. A £7m refurbishment of the Contact Theatre on Oxford Road in Manchester has completed, paving the way for performances to restart next year. The scheme, led by architect Sheppard Robson, began in 2018. Since then, Contact’s staff and performers have been based out of Powerhouse in Moss Side, performing across the city at an array of venues including the Science and Industry Museum in Castlefield, the Lowry Theatre and even some abandoned tunnels under Victoria Station. Spooky tunnels are cool – and probably have excellent acoustics – but, as the saying goes, there’s no place like home.
GREEN ARMY…When is a door not a door? When its ajar. When is green not a green? When it is designated for redevelopment and isn’t legally registered as one, of course. Noses have been put out of joint by Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese who has refused to acknowledge the existence of the so-called New Islington Green, the 150,000 sq ft patch of grass located either side of the tracks at New Islington metrolink station.
The green, the result of cleared industrial units, has proved popular with local residents, particularly when the twin forces of heatwave and global pandemic combined last month. News that the grassy oasis is to be redeveloped by a firm called General Projects has irked some people and a petition to stop the project has garnered almost 5,000 signatures. Now, Leese has added fuel to the fire by insisting in an interview with local media that there is “no such thing as New Islington Green” – sparking uproar on Twitter. Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s a green, got it?
MONUMENTAL MOMENT…There was good news this week for Dolphinholme Worsted Spinning Mill – a monument of national significance in Lancaster and not to be mistaken with a man whose beagle wears a monocle – as it embarks on a new life as a ‘scheduled monument’. The scheduled monument designation is bestowed on an asset by Historic England when it deems something worthy of protection due to its historical importance. Dolphinholme Spinning Mill’s claim to historical fame is the early example of gasworks, created in 1811 by engineer Samuel Clegg, that can be found there. The gasworks were installed so that the mill could maximise revenues by extending working hours and eliminating its costliest overhead, candles.
FUNDAY…Glastonbury, Parklife, Leeds and Reading, – these are just a few of the festivals that have been scuppered by Covid-19. But in the sodden ashes of people’s summer dreams, opportunity glistens. If you’re a music lover and iffood, fairground rides and fields get you going, then Tatton Social might just be able to salvage your summer. Organised by Tatton Events, part of Cheshire landlowner Tatton Group, the social debuts this Sunday at Ashley Hall, and will continue on Sundays throughout the summer. Take that, global pandemic!
LITERARY WOMEN…The silence, the echos, the storeys of stories, is there a purer place to be than a library? In the North West we have some of the best and most beautiful in the country and thankfully, after a period of enforced hibernation, the books can once again be brought to life in our hands.
Manchester’s Central Library welcomed back bookworms a couple of weeks ago, while Liverpool’s Central library reopened at the start of this week and The Harris Library in Preston has dusted down its shelves and opened, too. Meanwhile, Manchester’s most iconic bibliographic haven, the John Rylands, has not yet reopened but has spent the week paying homage to some of the city’s heroic women.
Enriqueta Rylands, who founded the library in memory of her late husband and was the first woman to receive the freedom of the city, and Dr Sylvia Sham, an empowering force for good among Manchester’s Chinese community, were both in the spotlight. As was Louise Da-Cocodia, Manchester’s first black senior nurse who arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1955 as part of the Windrush generation. In 2005, Da-Cocodia was awarded an MBE for her services to the people of the city.