Day 1. Visiting Manchester on a rainy day

It was a dreary, damp morning as we made our way to the station for our weekend in Manchester.  Conditions were no better on our arrival and as there seemed little likelihood of the rain easing we decided to spend as much of the day as possible indoors.

Manchester Central Library
Manchester Central Library

We were more than happy to be back in one of our favourite cities whatever the weather and after enjoying a pub lunch we headed to Manchester Central Library in St. Peter’s Square.  This city centre landmark which opened in 1934 is sometimes compared to the Pantheon in Rome with its striking rotunda and huge stone pillars.

Entrance Hall, Manchester Central Library
Entrance Hall, Central Library

We entered the building by its main door which leads into a vast two storey entrance hall featuring a huge stained glass window of William Shakespeare and scenes from his plays above the door.  Staircases at each side of the hall lead up to the galleried landing which affords splendid views of the heraldic ceiling decorations.

Stained glass window, Manchester Central Library
The Shakespeare stained glass window

We’d come upstairs to view two of the library’s magnificent rooms.  The first we entered was the Wolfson Reading Room, a magnificent circular hall seating up to 300 and lined with oak bookshelves.  The room is partly lit by natural light from a glass oculus in the centre of the roof dome and by a circle of elegant art-deco style lights.

Wolfson Reading Room, Manchester Central Library
The Wolfson Reading Room

Over the central counter there is a stunning wrought iron pillar type structure topped by an ornate clock.  The majority of the bookcases, tables, chairs and desk lamps are original making the room conducive to study.

The Wolfson Reading Room, Central Library Manchester
Ornate clock centrepiece and oculus light in the reading room

Just down the corridor is another gem, that of the Henry Watson Music Library.  Dr. Watson (1846-1911) was a prominent local musician and teacher who became Professor of Music at the Royal Manchester College of Music.  The music library was founded in 1902 containing his original collection of manuscripts.

Henry Watson Music Library, Manchester Central Library
The Henry Watson Music Library

It’s another beautiful room with its curved walls and along with the historic collection the library contains musical instruments, mixing decks and printed music making it one of the country’s leading resource centres.

Manchester Central Lending Library
The modern lending library

The library is a perfect blend of old and new as following a £50m refurbishment in 2010 taking four years the historic building now includes an ultramodern lending library, local history room and large cafe.

The Manchester Bee, Central Library
The Central Library’s Manchester Bee

Before leaving, we admired one of the Manchester Bees which can be found dotted around the city centre.  The Manchester worker bee is one of the best known symbols of the city for which it has been an emblem for more than 150 years.  The bee denotes the Mancunian’s hard work ethic and of the city being a hive of activity.

Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery

It was still raining when we ventured outside so we made a quick dash around the corner to the Manchester Art Gallery which offers free admission and is currently open Wednesday-Sunday 10.00 – 4.00 p.m.  The original city art gallery building was designed by Sir Charles Barry and fronts onto Mosley Street.  It was completed in 1835 and has since been expanded into two further connected buildings.

Entrance Hall, Manchester Art Gallery
The Entrance Hall

The grand Victorian entrance hall features spectacular neo-classical architecture and artwork leading into the exhibition galleries.  Despite only being partially open there was ample artwork of local and international significance to view.

Manchester Art Gallery
Interior of the Manchester Art Gallery

Being tea drinkers, hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to return when the tea exhibition opens.  On reading an information board, it will contain a collection relating to the production and use of tea and how a simple hot drink has enriched our lives through meeting people and exchanging ideas.

Manchester Arndale
Manchester Arndale

Leaving the gallery, we popped into The Waterhouse pub located just a few steps away where we enjoyed a panini and drink before heading to the vast Manchester Arndale for a dose of retail therapy.  This mall contains over 200 stores and is one of the largest inner-city shopping centres in the country, so an ideal place to spend some time on such a rainy day.  There are numerous access points with the main ones being along Market Street and Exchange Square.  As well as lots of shops there are numerous cafes and restaurants plus a covered walkway leading to Marks & Spencer and Selfridges, meaning that we could stay dry a little longer whilst browsing these stores.

Manchester Museum
Manchester Museum

Before leaving home, I’d booked timed entry tickets for the Manchester Museum on Oxford Road, a 30 minute walk away so we pulled up our hoods, hoisted our umbrellas and made our way across town to the University of Manchester.  The museum lies at the heart of the campus in one of its grand neo-gothic buildings.  Entrance is free and current opening times are Wednesday – Sunday 11.00 – 4.00 p.m.  Our timed slot was for 3.15 p.m. allowing ample time to view the natural history and vivarium galleries.  The ancient world’s gallery is currently closed whilst transformations take place and additional exhibition halls are added.

Dinosaur on display in Manchester Museum
Dinosaur on display in Manchester Museum

It was our first visit to this museum and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.  The building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse who also designed the exquisite Natural History Museum in London.  It’s both a visitor attraction and a resource centre for research and teaching.

Interior of the Manchester Museum
The galleried Victorian exhibition hall

Entering the gallery, we came face to face with Stan the T.rex – a giant plesiosaur hanging from the ceiling and took a tour of life on earth over the last 600m years from the earliest evidence of bacteria through to swamp forests and sea reptiles.  

Inside the Manchester Museum
Inside the Manchester Museum

This Victorian masterpiece covers three floors and features ornate balconies with a glass panelled roof.  Displays cover fossils and minerals with a particularly interesting Vivarium on the top floor.  Vivarium is Latin for ‘place of life’ and the one based here is notable for its collection of Costa Rican frogs with a captive breeding programme for some of the most endangered species.

Museum Cafe, Museum of Manchester
Cafe, Museum of Manchester

It was interesting viewing some of the exhibits and after completing our visit we called into the  museum cafe next door for a pot of tea and a slice of cake.  The cafe is housed in the former university dental hospital and it’s a cosy place to call in a for a drink before or after visiting the museum.

Georgian faculty buildings, University of Manchester
Georgian faculty buildings, University of Manchester

It wasn’t the weather for a complete walk around the university campus but I did spot an attractive row of Georgian houses which are now faculty offices.  Along with the historic university buildings housing the museum and cafe, we passed some more recent additions and Utility, a splendid independent gift shop on University Green which I couldn’t resist popping into for a look around.

Utility Gift Shop, Manchester
Utility Gift Shop, Manchester

Despite the gloomy weather we’d found several nice things to see and do on our first day back in Manchester.  Fingers crossed for better weather to come!


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Spending a rainy day in Manchester, UK



97 thoughts on “Day 1. Visiting Manchester on a rainy day

  1. Being a lover of tea and all things related to it, the forthcoming tea exhibition sounds fascinating. Thank you for this wonderful tour around Manchester, which I have not ever been to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Day 1. Visiting Manchester on a rainy day – SHOPPEX NIGERIA

  3. ThingsHelenLoves

    That library is a beauty. Haven’t they done well combining old and new, each side just as beautiful as the other in a different way. Don’t think I’d get much done in there though, I’d just be gazing around!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow I had no idea that Manchester had so much to see. Always just think of shops and football to be honest but your photos are great and it looks well worth a little trip. I guess rainy days may be the norm there though unfortunately.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Day 1. Visiting Manchester on a rainy day – AmakaTV

  6. I’ve been in the library a few times mainly for book signings. A much more gratifying venue than the usual bookshop.

    Manchester is a city of contrasts, like many cities the old is fighting with the new. There are many gems within the city, but for me, it always seems like work in progress. A city that’s on a journey without clarity of where it wants to go and what it wants to be. For many it’s what makes Manchester, a vibrant ever changing city.

    The library is a place of contemplation and refuge, an hidden gem in a chaotic cosmopolitan fast moving city.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I wish my son was still living in Manchester, in a very selfish way! There so much for me still to discover in this amazing city. It’s very useful to have suggestions of places to go if it’s raining, freezing or too hot… I particularly love the bee!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course, I recall that you’d mentioned he was at university there. I’m from Lancashire which Manchester used to be part of and it was always a treat going to Manchester for a day with my Mum. Thanks so much for commenting. Marion


  8. Sorry to hear about the dreary weather, but sounds like you had a few good options of places to visit to escape the rain. I am also a huge tea drinker (I’m drinking a cup of tea right now actually) and the tea exhibit sounds like it would be interesting. It’s definitely a good excuse to return.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m not much for museums, but I will admit that they’re the perfect alternative to a rainy day in town! Museums have that wonderful blend of history and art, and you could definitely spend a full day just taking it all in. Thanks for sharing that in Manchester; the ceiling to the entrance looks lovely!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a shame about the weather but it couldn’t be helped and that’s where museums come into their own on a rainy day – keeping us dry and a place to discover and learn. Hope your day goes well and thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Ah the rain, the lack of sunshine, nothing like it to make me depressed. On these days I do like you, I take refuge in the museums. I also do the same when it is too hot. Certainly museums were invented for that. Thank you for the visit.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I just love that stained glass in the library with the pictures of Shakespeare’s plays! It is so detailed and so striking. And the Manchester Museum looks so interesting. I’m sorry the weather wasn’t better for you, but I think you found the best indoor places to enjoy.- Meg

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We did indeed, as they say you can plan most things but not the weather even in late May in the UK. Nevertheless, we had a lovely day in the library, gallery and museum plus a spot of shopping thrown into the mix ! Thanks for your welcome thoughts Meg. Hope you are having a nice day. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sometimes we need the rain to allow us to see those things that make a city special. What a beautiful library and so many museums. We have often transitted through Manchester, but never stopped to look. Next time. Thanks for sharing Marion. Have a great Wednesday. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  13. One of the reasons why I love exploring cities, there’s always plenty to do on a rainy day. I didn’t know that Manchester Central Library is such a beautifully striking building. I miss visiting museums, cultural organizations and learning new things – it’s nearly impossible to exit one without having gained any information or insight during the visit. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a welcoming thought that things will start to open for you over in Ireland in the coming days. Manchester is one of my favourite cities and I always find nice things to do there come rain or shine. Thanks so much for commenting and I hope you’re enjoying sunny weather Aiva . Marion xx

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I can’t think of a better place to be on a rainy day, than in a library 😉. And what a beautiful library this one is! And the story of the Manchester Bee – that’s a wonderful symbol for a city 🐝.
    Well, you’ve indeed managed to see some interesting places although it rained – I hope for better weather on your next day!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. That really was a grim, grey, dark day. Luckily, there seemed to be plenty of indoor delights to keep you occupied. I have only been to Manchester once on a brief day trip, so plenty here to whet my appetite for a proper visit one day.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. What gorgeous buildings! I especially liked the library – what a treat to be able to peruse all these places on a rainy day (I assume they are close to each other)! Very nice and informative photo essay. I’ve been in Manchester once, but it was a business trip so I didn’t see much. I’d like to really visit it someday!

    Liked by 3 people

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