Manchester 2021 – A Possible Stationery Staycation?

manchester staycation 2021
Credit: Steven Roussel on Unsplash / @stevenrsl

So where would you choose to visit in the UK next year? It is a question that was asked of us recently, and it got me thinking. After all, we have discussed the idea of doing more Stationery Walks, and we also know that they are…well, a bit London-centric so far. We want to get out there and see what amazing stationery can be found on other city streets around the country, and we have even started building a map to help with that aim.

There are so many places within the UK we could visit, but on reflection I chose Manchester. To be fair, we were given a shortlist of four. London? I already live there. Oxford? A bit too close to home. So that left Liverpool and Manchester. I actually went to Manchester this time last autumn with my 7-year old son, to show him ‘the north’, so the temptation was to pick Liverpool. However, for all my research I could find little in the way of exciting stationery on offer there. Please do correct me on this if you know of some great stationery shops in Liverpool, or just shops that have a good stationery section. In the meantime, Manchester it is. It is also fair to say that my son was less into the idea of stationery shopping than I might have wished for (code for not at all interested), so there is unfinished business.

Manchester Tram
Credit: Mangopear creative on Unsplash / @mangopearuk

So what does Manchester have to offer by way of stationery? Well, again it is actually quite hard to research this online. The standout store would seem to be Fred Aldous, and my (brief!) visit there before catching the train home last time confirmed this. So that’s one pin in the map. The Northern Quarter generally had the right feel to it, less of your mainstream and more of an alternative to maybe unearth something unexpected. Rymans and WH Smith are a no, but Paperchase seems to have a better-than-normal sized store on St Marys Gate, so that will be checked out. At this point though I would put it to you, our faithful Nanosphere readers, to recommend stationery highlights in Manchester. What shops have a stationery section worth a visit?

Dinosaurs, Manchester Museum
Credit: Jon Butterworth on Unsplash / @jonjons
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
Credit: Zbysiu Rodak on Unsplash / @zbigniew

On the last trip our activities before included the tram (he loves trains and it is still something of a novelty if you live in most of London), with visits out to Salford Quays and the Imperial War Museum North, which was just about the right size of museum for me. Big enough to reward you for the trip, small enough to digest it all. We also went to the Manchester Museum with its amazing collection of dinosaurs and natural history. More stuffed animals than I think I have seen before, and strangely compelling in an old-school museum sort of way.

One aspect to Manchester that I always associate it with is music, and specifically the 1980s and 90s scene. With that in mind, and left to indulge my own interests, I might well find myself out looking for the Salford Lads Club (better known as the location of The Smith’s album cover shoot for The Queen Is Dead) and the Haçienda nightclub (now a block of luxury flats, which sort of sums up how your edgy youth eventually becomes your more comfortable middle life).

salford lads club
Salford Lads Club

Now there is an obvious caveat to all of this, and that is will we be able to travel freely around the UK or not in 2021? I truly hope so for so many reasons, but it will have to be subject to updates on the current situation (check here for the latest rules). Here’s hoping that this all seems like a distant bad dream, as we wander the streets of Manchester looking for stationery and historical musical references.

Do you have any recommendations for good stationery shops in Manchester, or the North West generally? Do let us know in the comments below.

  1. Fred Aldous is stationery/art & craft heaven, but well worth a visit is the John Rylands Library.

  2. Not visited, but there are often stationery sections in Museums. How about checking out the Whitworth in Manchester? I’ve also visited museums in Liverpool in years past, if you decide to widen that “northern” search!

    Actually the north, more rural than industrial, stretches further – but perhaps consider York, and Lancaster in your exploration of the UK.

    I find bookshops often include stationery items, but not of the ;inclusive kind you find in London. Just a suggestion. There are also art supplies to be found sometimes.

    Good luck from Knoydart – all my wishes have to be satisfied online, however.

    1. Now Knoydart is one place I will visit one day, regardless of the likely lack of stationery shops. Definitely would look to get over to York, Harrogate and Yorkshire generally as well. It’s those little hidden surprises, like Pencil Me In up in Elgin that I love to discover. And visit one day too…

  3. Two things to visit:
    Home on first street is a bar/restaurant/cinema/theatre and sells interesting, quirky cards.
    The Bridgewater Hall is the home of the Hallé orchestra and choirs and hosts a variety of concerts both classical and ‘modern beat combos’!

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