Abandoned Cells of Bootle Street

A PHOTO DIARY


WRITTEN BY Hayley Flynn

IMAGES BY Andrew Brooks

READING TIME: 3 minutes

 

Exploring inside Bootle Street police station and a look around the long abandoned holding cells.


Bootle Street police station, soon to be part of hotel complex owned by Gary Neville, stands almost empty at the time of our visit. The remaining departments of the police force still here were packing up ready to move to their new home in the Town Hall. 

Andrew Brooks and I got to explore the site including a look around the old holding cells that have been closed for some years - no one seemed sure exactly how long. In fact no one seemed sure about who had been held here either (arrest records are only kept for a relatively short amount of time and none exist for this site anymore). I felt certain I'd stumble across stories of notorious criminals being held in the city centre location whilst researching Bootle Street but all I can say is that between opening and closing, though no one seems to know when either of those things occurred, all city centre arrests were directed here. Frustrating indeed.

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 The reception at the holding cells

The reception at the holding cells

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What was striking about the building was the size of it. An administrative shade of beige is the only colour in the building and it makes each floor seem the same as the other. It all becomes one big streak of beige. 

In the basement of the building is a stripped gym room with a few weight machines still knocking around and an ironing board set up in the corner of the room. A window from this room leads to an exercise yard that has no doorway to it. Inmates couldn't have gotten to this part of the site, so it's a mystery why it's there.

A former games room is now a large empty space deep in the belly of the building on the way to the guns store - another empty room. We wander around Bootle Street for a while, with no idea what direction we're heading in or where we are in relation to street level. 

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The police started in the town hall so they're returning home in a way. 

You can read my article for The Guardian about the development planned for the site. Spoiler: I don’t like it, but a few excerpts are below.

Not long after Bootle Street police station closed down, I was lucky enough to take a tour of the site. The endless corridors and myriad small rooms and strange subterranean spaces may have been a difficult canvas to redevelop but the former cells, the courtyard, and the proud-looking facade were worthy of some effort at least. Much like the demolition of the nearby Coronation Street set, the potential for a tourist attraction within the new proposal is perhaps something of a missed opportunity. Sure the holding cells are no Alcatraz but prison tourism is a burgeoning industry…

…On the developers’ Twitter feed, they state: “St Michael’s will breathe new life into underused streets linking Albert Square to Deansgate.” But what is so bad about underused streets anyway? And what exactly defines them as such? I for one revel in snaking around that curve in the road beyond Albert Square, past the stone facade of Bootle Street, and enjoying 30 whole seconds of peace before rejoining the traffic. The development seems to shame the backstreet; the cut-through; the quiet smoke behind the office; the ability (if you take a surreptitious shortcut through the Nags Head) to walk from Peter Street all the way to Cathedral Gardens using only alleyways and side streets. And therein lies the rub; you cannot dictate how a city is used by its citizens.
— Don't Trash Manchester's History to Make Way for Skyscrapers
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 A locked interview room with a mannequin just in shot

A locked interview room with a mannequin just in shot

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