Manchester’s Victoria Arches, or Cathedral Steps is a legendary Urban Exploring location and I have wanted to get into here for a while now. We got lucky in the connections we had through friends and were not disappointed by what we found.
Visited by: Nic, Shorty, Lee, Ojay
The history of the arches is vast and fascinating. Dating back to the 1838 when the Arches were constructed at a cost of between £60,000 and £100,000.
First advertised in October 1839, the arched vaults under Victoria were offered as being suitable for wine merchants, printers and machine makers. Since 1840 they have been home to a number of tenants, including Robert Armstrong – Civil Engineer one of the earliest tenants manufacturing Scott’s patent boiler cleaners. The electricity department where tests and investigations were made on electrical equipment until 1909. It then became home for a transformer station that was used between 1936 and 1957.
Also, in 1907 Thomas Cook & Son setup shop in the premises built onto the Arches by Victoria Bridge. Cook’s had expanded by 1921 and were also renting space at the Southern end of the Arches for offices and storage until 1932.
It’s landing stages were also home to the Irwell Excursion which ran from 1895 until around 1901. The Irwell Steam Ferries would run in half hour intervals between 10:30am and 5:30pm to Manchester Docks, via Albert Bridge. There was also a cruise along the newly opened Manchester Ship Canal through Irlam, Lymm, Runcorn and Frodsham to Eastham and special Bank Holiday sailings to Liverpool and New Brighton.
The entrances were from Victoria Bridge by a wooden stairway; Victoria Street junction with Fennel St by a flight of steps formed under the pavement (Now Sealed over) and from the Cathedral approach by means of a wooden stairway from the existing conveniences.
I know Ojay said he get pestered a lot by people on the message boards and facebook about coming down here too. But coming down here was just more than I ever imagined, it’s hard to remember where you actually are, it’s just crazy to think this is below Manchester and people walk past and never even think twice.
There is so much to see down here, features, textures, sign and of course the famous toilets. We also found bones down here I was told belong to childhood Cholera victims of the 1800’s, a little bit spooky! From certain points it is also possible to get right below a street level grid and hear people talking as they walk past!