I’d never thought of going to Hyde as it’s one of those places in Greater Manchester that normally falls under the radar – except when it has had serial killers operating in the area (three actually – Shipman and the Moors Murderers). Anyway, apart from the whole serial killer business, it’s an unassuming town on the side of the Pennines and one of the last outposts before you hit Yorkshire.
I’d been through Hyde as a kid to visit my Uncle in nearby Hattersley. He lived in a tower block and it was the first time I’d been introduced to the high rise etiquette of showing the visitors the amazing view of Manchester on their first visit. I don’t have any particular memories of Hyde, but typically my Dad mentioned we had visited the market at some point. I swear I've visited every market in Greater Manchester in the 1970s and 1980s, but seem to have blocked out my memories of most of them – possibly out of trauma, but probably out of boredom.
Getting to Hyde is straightforward – M60, turn off at junction 24, pick up M67, exit junction 3 and follow the A627 onto the A57. We parked up by the Clarendon Shopping Centre and it cost £2 for 3 hours. To be honest it’s kind of optimistic to spend that amount of time in Hyde.
Before hitting the shopping centre we decided to seek out the 8 charity shops I had found on the internet. Neil was struggling to find any vinyl that didn’t involve easy listening from the 1960s. Unfortunately he drew a complete blank in the end and I did notice there weren’t many books in the shops either. I’m still kicking myself for not buying a little writing bureau with a bookcase for £25, although I did buy a 99p Paris tourist scarf to use for a craft project, but had to rearrange a whole window display to retrieve it.
There are plenty of pubs in Hyde, many of which are traditional looking boozers and I reckon it would be an interesting night out here for someone quite brave. Some of the customers had scary hard worn faces, but Hyde is one of those working class areas where you find people have aged way before their time.
When we were walking through the streets we heard a woman shouting at her kids. After listening to what she was saying, we eventually realised she wasn’t actually shouting at them, but her normal speaking voice was very loud.
We were surprised to find there’s an active Asian community in Hyde, as we spotted a local mosque on a side street and it appeared to be the busiest place in town.
Obviously we found the outdoor market outside Clarendon Shopping Centre, but there was nothing exciting to report – just usual cheap stuff. On the other hand the indoor market was slightly more interesting as there was a record stall selling vinyl records, so I briefly became a record shop widow for about half an hour as Neil browsed through the cheap singles and I ended up walking around the market. There was a meat stall called “Let’s Talk Tripe” and there was a haberdashery stall which also ran sewing machine classes. I thought it was a great idea for the haberdashery stall to run classes, as it’s a way to increase the number of customers, especially as you can no longer learn these skills through night classes at your local college.
My favourite shop though was Paper Tulips on one of the side streets. It’s a craft shop selling reasonably priced nice handmade goods. I got crotchet envy in the shop, as that is one craft skill I’ve never been able to pick up despite my Mum’s efforts to teach me. I was genuinely surprised to find a shop like this here, as you expect to find places like this in Chorlton or Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
So what’s 21st century Hyde like? Very much like 20th century Hyde, but with a snazzy bus station. There are some interesting older buildings including the Town Hall, the Post Office building which has been turned into a nursery and the Theatre Royal Hyde which the locals are trying to save. The streets surrounding the main shopping centre have buildings dating back to the Victorian times, with some post war building initiatives. Clarendon Shopping Centre appears to be a 1960s build with a tower block on top, which is similar to what can be found at Salford Precinct. There have been some efforts with regeneration including a new bus station and some street art. There is even an “I *heart* Hyde” campaign going on by the council. Whilst this seems to be ambitious for a small working class town on the edge of Greater Manchester, it appears to be having some impact when you see places like Paper Tulips and some little modern cafes dotted across the town.
Hyde isn’t the most exciting place in the world to visit, but it did offer some small surprises. Who knew you could pick up vinyl records in the local market? If you like your charity shops, then Hyde is definitely a place to go to pick up stuff to upcycle. Will I visit again? I’m very tempted to go back to see if that writing bureau is still there.