Ancoats was once at the very heart of the industrial revolution - and then, suddenly, it wasn't.

The identity of the area became cloudy, its huge mill buildings falling into disuse and disrepair.

As recently as 1998, 80 per cent of business space in the area was believed to be vacant, the area deemed threatening and intimidating in a report by the Ancoats Urban Village Strategic Framework .

It's hard to believe it was ever this way when walking the narrow cobbled streets today.

Ancoats has evolved beyond recognition in an incredibly short space of time, and is now considered one of the coolest and most desirable neighbourhoods in the world.

Redhill Street in 2014

Listed mill buildings have transformed into luxury apartment blocks, with restaurants and bars and cafes at their feet.


There's even a Michelin star in the area now - something nowhere else in Greater Manchester can claim.

Other warehouses have been bulldozed and cleared, huge modern structures blossoming out of their footprints.

Redhill Street in 2019 

Nothing drives home quite how rapid this development has been like travelling the streets on Google Maps.

Ancoats has changed so quickly that Google's Street View service can't keep up - click along the virtual version of this thriving neighbourhood and you can see just how much has changed.

Cutting Room Square

Cutting Room Square in Ancoats in 2019 

Cutting Room Square is the beating, boozy heart of modern-day Ancoats.

Rudy's was the first in, serving arguably Manchester's best pizzas from their tiny stripped-back restaurant since 2015.

Now, Cutting Room Square is home to award-winning neighbourhood bar The Jane Eyre, as well as Portuguese restaurant Canto, beer bar Seven Brothers, The Counter House, Elnecot, Second City and soon-to-be the new home of Jimmy's.

But if you'd stood on this square just three years ago you'd have had a very different view, with no trace of nine-storey building that now houses the Jane Eyre - back then, it was just a rough gravelled car park.

The Halle was also much smaller then, before the plans had even been announced for its £4.3 million extension. 

The Edinburgh Castle

The Edinburgh Castle is soon to re-open 

One historic corner of Ancoats is still very much under refurbishment, with work well underway to restore former pub The Edinburgh Castle .

Cottonopolis directors Nick and Hayley Muir are behind the project, which will see the building back up and running as a pub on the ground floor and restaurant upstairs.

Cast your map back to 2012 and the three-storey building on the corner of Henry Street and Blossom Street was covered in a dull cream-coloured render - now it's back to red brick and almost ready to re-open.

Blossom Street

Smith's Yard in 2019 

Perhaps the most shocking change in the area is the top end of Blossom Street, where the narrow road meets Bengal Street.

Now, you'll find Sugo Pasta Kitchen, Hip Hop Chip Shop, Mana, and soon-to-be Blossom Street Social wine bar and a large outpost of the Co-Op.

It's where you'll find one of the biggest new builds the area - Smith's Yard is a huge Manchester Life development of modern flats.

In 2016 though? A fenced-off overgrown wasteland stood here - including, if you look closely, a man walking his cat.

Blossom Street again

The northern end of Blossom Street 


Here's Blossom Street from the northern end, facing back towards the Halle St Peter's and the city centre.

The picture above is taken from Bengal Street, once home to the notorious gang the Bengal Tigers.

What's particularly noticeable in these before-and-afters from 2015 is the huge amount of greenery that's been lost as Ancoats has developed.

It is, however, remarkable to think that just four years ago an abandoned fan manufacturing factory stood where Michelin-starred Mana now is.

Great Ancoats Street

Great Ancoats Street in 2019 


One of Manchester's most beloved street art pieces - a colourful bird nicknamed The Guardian of Ancoats, painted by Mateus Bailon - was destroyed in 2017 after the Great Ancoats electricity substation was razed to the ground to make way for an apartment block.

Mulbery has invested an estimated £30 million turning the old substation and adjacent car park into 143 apartments, a mix of one, two and three-bedroom flats as well as three townhouses.

Click back to June 2017 and you can still see the bird standing proudly.

Click back even further to 2008, and what is now the Nuovo apartment building and Ancoats General Store was a blackened, ugly shell.

Jersey Street

Sawmill Court in 2019 


Over on the corner of Jersey Street and Murray Street you'll fine Erst, Cocoa Cabana and Trove - if you'd seen this part of Ancoats as recently as 2015 that would have seemed unfathomable.

A modest, low-rise industrial unit stood here until 2016, when the entire block was flattened to make way for Manchester Life's Sawmill Court.

New Islington Marina

New Islington Marina in 2019 

It's now a waterside oasis for Ancoats residents in summer, where locals sprawl out on the grass with coffees bought at Pollen Bakery on the water's edge.

Before Manchester Life (Cotton Field Wharf) and Urban Splash (pretty much every other building here) got their hands on it, the marina looked very different indeed.

The marina didn't even join up with the Rochdale Canal until 2012, when the waterway was reconstructed and the silver footbridge installed.