When I was little, going on holiday to Blackpool involved hanging out of the train window from Preston onwards seeking the first glimpse of the Tower.
Nowadays, approaching Manchester feels the same, particularly when I drive over the Woodhead Pass, where you can see the Beetham Tower from as far away as Tintwistle.
The Beetham Tower at 554 feet won’t be Manchester’s tallest building for much longer, when Tower 1 (659 feet), the tallest of the cluster of four towers at Owen Street, is topped out in 2018.
For the moment, though, it’s the tenth tallest building in the UK, and the tallest outside London.
It was designed by Ian Simpson of SimpsonHaugh & Partners whose other Manchester work includes the Shudehill Interchange and the Central Library and Town Hall Extension restoration.
It sits on a narrow site on Deansgate, and its profile, with a distinctive overhang at the 23rd floor, makes it unmistakable. The first twenty-two floors are occupied by the Hilton Manchester Deansgate [http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/hilton-manchester-deansgate-MANDGHI/index.html] and the floor with the overhang is the Cloud 23 bar [https://www.cloud23bar.com], where you’re asked to “dress to impress”.
Above that, floors 24-47 are apartments. The architect, Ian Simpson, moved into the top-floor penthouse, a two-storey residence containing trees imported from Italy and craned through the roof before topping out.
Other notable residents have included the Manchester-born singer, Shayne Ward, and the footballers Phil Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Living in or near the Beetham Tower is sometimes disturbed in windy weather by a hum from the ten-metre glass blade which extends the height of the south façade. This persistent howling noise, featured in the rock-band Paramore’s track ‘Idle Worship’ (2017), has on occasion interrupted filming of Coronation Street.
Not everyone approves of the way the Beetham Tower dominates the cityscape, but I like it.
The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2019 ‘Manchester’s Heritage’ tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £15.00 including postage and packing. To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.