Jon Savage on his impressions of Manchester in 1979

I just remember it… London was derelict, but only in parts. I just remember… what I liked about Manchester was the space. I always liked urban spaces, one of my problems with London, one of the reasons I left London, was because all the space was filled in. And one of the things that I liked about Joy Division was that they were almost like an ambient group in that they had a lot of space in their music, and that space reflected the spaces in the city, to do with obviously the de-industrialisation and the very peculiar way in which Manchester zoned anyway with this commercial centre, and then the bits immediately outside the commercial centre were then derelict, and then you had the places where people lived like Didsbury, and also you had Hulme, you know, which is such a bizarre experiment in retrospect, and I lived in Chorlton which was then very leafy and rundown though I lived in a huge Victorian house, and that cost me £8 a week, and it all seemed… what I do remember about Manchester was the wet Sundays and how grim they were, and it just seemed certainly even being Granada, which of course was a big, you know, supposedly liberal employer, it was like being 20 years behind London. So I was very wary of that, and not always in a good way certainly in terms of sex and gender politics, which I was interested in, and not just gay politics but also feminist politics. I just thought it was, you know, really behind in many, many ways, and the environment was pretty brutal. I do you remember that. I remember I used to go to concerts in the Apollo and it was just a wasteland all round the Apollo. And first time in fact I came to Manchester was in October 1977 to see the whole… the punk groups at the Electric Circus, and of course that was in Collyhurst! And it was opposite these decayed 1930s flats which I took photos of, the complete estate which has been left to rot because everybody had been moved out, and actually, probably now those flats would be prized. But then, everybody was being moved out and it was just dereliction that went on for miles and miles and miles and miles, so that was what I remember about Manchester memories. And I mean, it’s completely changed obviously in the last nearly 40 years.

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