Life Outside the Oxford Road

By Joe Pusey

If I had a penny for every time I heard “the busiest bus route in Europe”, I might be able to pay off my student loan early but trust me, if you go out onto Oxford Road on a typical Monday morning it’s not hard to see why. It runs from the very centre of Manchester southwards through Fallowfield, Withington and Didsbury, and encompasses both the UoM and MMU campuses. It can’t be denied,  Oxford Road is the hub of student life at the University of Manchester, and it’s easy for students to end up spending almost every waking hour of their degree there, myself included!

As well known as it is, Oxford Road isn’t all there is to Manchester.

So, here’s a quick roundup of the top five places in Manchester that a Magic Bus won’t take you.


1. Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

This fantastic- and more importantly, free museum is only a short walk away from2 Deansgate and Oxford Road stations.It is well worth a visit for anyone with even a passing interest in science, technology, or the history of Manchester – with a separate building dedicated to a vast collection of industrial machines!

Manchester City Council has also announced  development of St Johns Quarter and the surrounding area into a new creative and cultural hub, so there’s never been a better time to spend an afternoon surrounded by science and tech.

2. Castlefield

An area of Manchester just beyond the MoSI that’s a great place for the culture vultures,
with the HOME cinema complex, the Gallery and more coffee shops and bars than you can shake a stick at. Castlefield is made for  the cold January afternoons – perhaps after exams, or just for an escape  from the hustle and stress of the inner city. A pumpkin spiced latte and a walk on the cobbles could be just what the doctor ordered after weeks of fun-free revision!3

3. People’s History Museum

Possibly more relevant than ever in these troubling times, the People’s History Museum in Spinningfields hosts one of Britain’s largest collections of political materials, dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. There are permanent exhibitions on the fight for democracy and life after WWII, temporary fixtures on the history of the LGBT+ rights and civil disobedience. I found the new installation on the history of civil disobedience in Syria to be the most engaging; an exploration of one of the most complex proxy wars in human history with a real relevance to the increasingly troubled atmosphere in the West.4

4. Chinatown

Back towards the city centre, Chinatown is an ideal area for students who want to see a slightly different side to Manchester. Centred around the traditional Chinese arch on Faulkner Street, the neighbourhood- the third largest Chinatown in Europe- plays host to a wide variety of Asian and Far Eastern eateries and shops, with my personal recommendation being the Oreo Milk Tea at the Happy Lemon.


5. Affleck’s

Originally a department store, this building in the Northern Quarter was converted to an indoor market in the early 1980s and has grown into a mecca for alternative culture- ideal for perfecting that authentic Fallowfield look. We’re talking  costume shops, tattoo parlours, cereal cafes and boutiques  catering to almost every imaginable interest. Maybe plan your visit once you’ve budgeted out your food and rent money for the semester – it is easy to get carried away here!

Manchester Vegan and Wellbeing Centre, is worth an honourable mention, a new vegan wellness hubinside the Three Minute Theatre opened on February 1st. There are cheap and healthy eats along with cooking workshops – perfect for anyone with a New Year’s resolution to eat well

There you have it, my top five picks of where to go outside of Oxford Road. None of these places are more than a short walk away and all of them will add an extra dimension to your time in Manchester. So while you’ve got the opportunity, why not go explore? What are your favourite spots in the city?


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