Book celebrates MMU’s Didsbury campus

The Didsbury Campus in the 1940s
The Didsbury Campus in the 1940s
Gabrielle Whitehead, freelance journalist and director of PW Copy, copywriting specialists in Manchester, looks back at the Didsbury campus of Manchester Metropolitan University, which is being turned into exclusive new flats

It was long regarded as south Manchester’s vibrant student hub, but Didsbury’s appeal to Manchester’s wealthiest is seeing the trendy south Manchester suburb rejuvenated into a nucleus of highly sought-after, high-end property developments.

As the students move closer to the city, they are replaced a well-heeled crowd of wealthy residents, aspiring to live in this leafy, chic and super expensive suburb.

The PJ Livesey Group is one high-end property developer to recognise Didsbury’s premium appeal.

Built on a reputation for renovating some of the finest period properties in Britain, the PJ Livesey Group honed in on Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) former Didsbury campus.

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Plans were approved last year to covert the site into a new, exclusive property development.

Work to transform MMU’s former 17-acre campus, which had been home to teacher training students since 1946, into flats is now well under way.

Determined not to let its long epoch in Didsbury get washed away with the rubble, MMU has published a book to mark the closure of its iconic Didsbury campus.

In 2014, MMU’s Education Faculty moved from its campus in Didsbury, to the Brooks Building, close to Manchester city centre.

The move was part of a £350m investment made by MMU to renovate its facilities and consolidate seven campuses to two, in a ten-year plan to generate a world-class campus in the heart of Manchester and Cheshire.

The Didsbury Campus in the 1940s
The Didsbury Campus in the 1940s

Located in Hulme, on the outskirts of the city centre, this impressive geometric, glass-cladded building, constructed to the highest standards of sustainable development, amplifies Manchester’s modern cityscape, acting as an eye-catching entrance into the city.

On May 3, the Brooks Building was the location of a special event for MMU and its staff – the launch of Dr Andy Pickard’s new book, Teacher Education at Didsbury 1946-2014: A Celebratory History.

A crowd of staff and students from MMU, former and present, gathered in the foyer of the University’s new building, for the launch of the poignant new book. The book marks the conclusion of MMU’s Faculty of Education’s historical Didsbury campus and celebrates the influential role the site made to education.

On what was perhaps the first sunny day in Manchester of the year, sunlight poured through the fritted glass panels of the Brooks Building.

Smartly dressed in a chequered suit, red tie and green-rimmed glasses, Dr Andy Pickard delivered a presentation about the book and what it aims to achieve.

Dr Pickard taught at MMU for 42 years. He was head of Education Studies from 1992 until his retirement in 2013 and still teaches at the university on a part-time basis.

Dr Any Pickard signing the book
Dr Any Pickard signing the book

Upon retirement, which coincided with the Education Department’s move from Didsbury to Hulme, MMU commissioned Dr Pickard to write a book, to acknowledge the legacy of the Didsbury site and to mark its closure.

Teacher Education at Didsbury 1946-2014: A Celebratory History, celebrates the role MMU staff and its students who worked and studied at the Didsbury campus made to education over the years.

A congratulatory social history, the book revives the experiences as they were lived on the campus in Didsbury. It examines the heritage of the Didsbury site and the role its legacy will play at the Faculty of Education’s new home in Hulme.

As Dr Pickard talked through the different chapters of the book, he admitted that writing the book was a completely new experience to anything he had written before and confessed it was challenging.

“Writing about students and colleagues you have known, liked and respected was very different from anything I’d written previously,” Dr Pickard told his audience.

As the Didsbury site slowly gets reduced to cloud of rubble to be made into a new exclusive property development, Manchester Metropolitan University can look forward to a new chapter in its long and influential history.

With the help of ‘Teacher Education at Didsbury 1946-2014: A Celebratory History’, the university can look fondly back and reminisce at an inspirational era in the history of Manchester Metropolitan University and the influential role the staff and students played in shaping teaching training.

Teacher Education at Didsbury 1946-2014: A Celebratory History, priced at £11.79, is on sale at the MMU bookshop.

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