Manchester has seen plenty of regeneration over the past ten years, and many of the areas that were once considered undesirable have been through lots of positive changes. Ancoats is one of these places and if you’re looking for a community vibe with some amazing neighbourhood haunts, it’s the area for you. Its transformation has made it one of the most sought-after inner-city locations, so get in there quick.
The cool mill-conversion apartments, cobbled streets, and industrial architecture that Ancoats boasts are perfect for people who prefer classic city centre living with more character than modern high rises can offer.
Ancoats is situated north of Manchester’s famous Northern Quarter, with a host of cool shops, hangouts and pubs within a 10-minute walking distance as well as in the immediate vicinity. If good transport links out of the city are a top requirement for you, the location will be perfect – close to the Manchester ring road for car users, but also within walking distance of Manchester’s national rail stations: Victoria and Piccadilly.
Ancoats has a fascinating history, widely accepted to be the UK’s first ‘industrial suburb’. Its history is still visible now, with canal waterways weaving in and out of Victorian mill buildings. These waterways used to carry raw materials and finished products to and from the mills and factories, but they’re now best used as jogging routes. Ancoats’ first mills were built as early as 1790 and by the 1800s there were at least 16 in the area. It became a busy, highly-populated area because of all of the jobs the mills offered, and 200 years later it’s still a popular place to live in Manchester.
Ancoats is a great place to live but, as is expected from city-centre living, can be a bit pricey. Ancoats rent prices as of March 2019 show a studio flat to be on average £700 p/m, a 1 bedroom flat anywhere between £750 and £1,100 p/m, and 2-bedroom flats between £900 and £1,200 per month.
Because of its popularity, Ancoats also isn’t the easiest place in Manchester to find an available apartment. Although there’s not always a huge amount of choice at any one time, there are constantly new properties popping up so keep your eyes peeled.
There’s a cool community vibe in Ancoats, and it’s really the independent shops, pubs and eateries that make it so special. This is one of the reasons why so many young professionals and millennials love the area.
Its proximity to the Northern Quarter makes it ideal for those who love to go out – venues such as Night and Day Café and Band On The Wall are within walking distance, as is the iconic Affleck’s Palace. Because of its centrality, the area also has excellent transport links for commuters to other parts of the city. Piccadilly Gardens has a large bus and tram station so you can travel to the suburbs easily to visit friends or family.
Image Credit: Rudy's Pizza
Rudy’s has fast grown a reputation for serving the best Neapolitan pies in the city. With well-priced and delicious vegetarian and vegan offerings as well as the standard fare, Rudy’s is definitely one to be ticked off the Manchester bucket list, again and again.
For all those pizza lovers out there, the Ancoats branch of the Manchester independent is located on Cutting Room Square, the central public space of the Ancoats area. In the summer time, pick up a pizza and sit in the sunshine with beers and friends.
Pollen is a cute and sunny neighbourhood bakery at the Islington Marina. It’s got a bit of a cult following, with locals regularly queuing two or more hours for a loaf of sourdough – rain or shine. It also doubles as a workshop space, and Manchester Insta-star PippyEats regularly runs supper-clubs and cookery classes there where you can learn to make noodles or dumplings.
Pippa isn’t the only Instagram star to walk the hallowed halls of Pollen though, the owners’ resident chow-chow, Maru, is often seen lazing outside on sunny afternoons.
Image Credit: Manchester Evening News
Ancoats General Store is one of those places that’s a bit hard to describe unless you’ve been there. It’s a corner shop and coffee spot that hosts a street food pop-up every Thursday, quizzes, and brewery takeovers. Well known for its excellent selection of craft beers, AGS has fast become a place that locals can’t live without.
Owner Mital has succeeded in creating a shop where food essentials are well priced, but also where locals can come and have a natter with mates and staff. If you’ve run out of milk, don’t worry – AGS has cashew, oat, almond, soy, and coconut, as well as the standard stuff from cows.
Image Credit: The Jane Eyre
Every neighbourhood needs a good pub, and that good pub must, of course, serve a good Sunday roast. If you move to Ancoats, The Jane Eyre will undoubtedly become your local. Set up on the corner of Cutting Room Square, the bar is the perfect spot for casual dining and drinks, serving cocktails and craft beers until 11pm every night.
The bar is well known for its communal, welcoming vibe, and that philosophy has spread through so much more than the service, with warming and homely pub-grub served throughout the day.
Image Credit: Urban Splash
After its regeneration was completed in early 2013, the Islington Marina was opened and is now home to one of inner-Manchester’s only big green spaces. The marina is not only a great place to chill out in the summer though, it’s also home to Manchester’s growing community of canal boaters who dock here all year round.
On nicer days, grab a pastry and coffee from the nearby Pollen Bakery and take a book to one of the park benches on the water’s edge. Running routes along the Rochdale and Ashton canals can also start and end at this point.
Cutting Room Square
Cutting Room Square is a summer suntrap featuring plenty of seating as well as public artworks by local artist Dan Dubowitz. From here, you can get a strong sense of the area’s past, as the beautiful Halle St Peter’s dominates the space.
This deconsecrated church is now home to one of Manchester’s best regarded symphony orchestras, and doubles as an event space and community hub.
The Hope Mill Theatre is platform for local writers and theatre companies and produces new productions as well as showcasing new takes on well known plays. They play host to productions written by Unseemly Women – a women’s writing group who retell Shakespeare plays for the modern day with an all-female cast. As well as that, the theatre is a great community space with a good restaurant, and it can even host your wedding or private party.
Image: Manchester Evening News
A few streets away from Ancoats is Manchester’s Northern Quarter, home to the Cities of Hope street art gallery. In 2012, some of the best street artists from around the world descended on Manchester to add colour and life to corners of the Northern Quarter. Artists such as Invader, Case, and Faunagraphic made murals in the area.
Years later, their work’s still on display and checking it out is an excellent way to spend an afternoon. Download a map from their website and follow the trail, stopping off for a coffee at any one of the area’s great coffee shops.
Frog & Bucket Comedy Club
The Frog & Bucket was founded in 1994 and moved to its current venue on Oldham Street in 1996. As one of the area’s oldest venues, the comedy club is incredibly well established, and draws national and international acts that will make you laugh out loud.
Despite their successes, The Frog & Bucket has stayed down to earth and takes pride in championing northern comedy acts. Monday nights are reserved for newcomers, and they host an all-female comedy night each month, as well as comedy afternoons for kids. Go on a Friday or Saturday for their Barrel of Laughs events. When you’ve been once, you’ll be hooked.
Moving to Ancoats
Ancoats has quickly gained a reputation amongst Mancunians as being an interesting place to live, and it’s the type of neighbourhood that can offer a great lifestyle. The brand new, modern apartments and community vibe fit well with what people want and need, and the diversity of housing stock allows people with all different tastes to enjoy the area. Not your place? You can always find our other guides.