I finally headed out to Manchester Craft & Design Centre.
I had wanted to visit the centre for such a long time and I when I finally did it didn’t disappoint. Most of the makers were in their own units around the ground floor and mezzanine level; working or chatting to their customers.
The building has a fabulous glass roof structure making it feel so bright and airy. However, I didn’t have much understanding of the history behind the space or how it came to be a craft centre. For others that have a similarly limited knowledge to myself, here is some information.
What is the Craft & Design Centre in Manchester?
It was a former Victorian fish and poultry market, part of the Smithfield Market, in the heart of the Northern Quarter. In 1973, trade at the Smithfield Market ceased due to the newly built Arndale Centre.
In 1978, the council decided that the remaining part of the market would be converted into the ‘Manchester Craft Village’; a creative co-operative of local makers. Significant change has occurred since then following its official opening in March 1982.
In early 2000’s it was renamed to Manchester Craft & Design Centre and became a not-for-profit company.
The Oak St. Cafe-Bar opened in 2010 and from there they have added a hireable project room and secured Elbow’s Guy Garvey as their patron.
As the building approaches its 40th year as a repurposed ‘craft’ venue, it provides an essential hub in the community for artisan makers. A location to gather and work together, to inspire and focus in equal measure. It was heartening to see makers meeting up for lunch and grabbing a coffee; the perfect self-employed communal work space.
Having entered the centre and met with makers who, as I expected were crafting their products, showed such quality in both design and execution. The variety of art, homewares, ceramics, glass, gifts and more was so much more than I expected. I then decided to visit the cafe for a tea and cake. The ladies were very helpful and it had a cosy street vibe about it. I can very much recommend the loose leaf tea and fresh cheesecake.
I then revisited the makers and took some photos which you can see below.
Although I didn’t speak to any of the operations team at the centre, I was confident that they must have a very stringent criteria and vetting process when renting out their space based on the quality I witnessed.
On this occasion, I went for an explorative first visit. I will, most certainly, be popping by again armed with sizes of rooms in my house ready to make purchases.
Such a great venue for makers, creative people that love to support small businesses and also those looking to run or attend workshops. At the heart of the Northern Quarter in Manchester, it is a gem and long may it continue to thrive.
Here are the social links to Manchester Craft and Design Centre.
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