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The LEGACY Issue: Photography series – Capturing university life 30 years on

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Featured image: Alex B

Former Manchester student Alex B discovered the advantages of clearing up a cluttered room when he stumbled across pictures from his old university days in the city. Although he often reminisces about this time, the smile on his face as he looked through these photographs showed they brought back more memories than he could recall.

Now a gang of 52-year-olds, the same friends Alex remembered so fondly have kept their friendships tight and their families tighter. Three decades on Alex reminisces about the best years of his life in our rainy city. We take a look back at student life in Manchester through his eyes.

Alex’s room

In the heart of student culture, the group of friends spent the majority of their time hanging out in Alex’s room at 36 Cawdor Road, Fallowfield. With walls adorned with posters of George Michael and photos of friends, Alex hosted everyone here after lectures – if they’d actually managed to make it to university that day. Talking, relaxing and almost never doing their uni work, life as a student wasn’t too bad. Regardless, making memories, planning nights out and excited chats about the future took place within those walls. Living on a student budget posed no threat to living life to the fullest. Times were simpler, and saving money was easy with the Kwik-Save just round the corner on Wilmslow Road. It was their first taste of adulthood and, without the responsibility of mortgages and kids, their lives revolved around eating and drinking at the cool (and not-so cool) spots, finding the cheapest places for groceries and navigating the hook-ups and the heartbreaks.

Ready to go out out

Wherever the group went, almost always together, they’d have a cigarette in one hand and a pint of Snakebite in the other. Socialising was a top priority, with every night being a party for Alex and his friends. It was £2 pints at ‘The Queen of Hearts’ pub, now ‘256’, or the student bar ‘Squirrels’. There was even the occasional night at The Haçienda club — emphasis on ‘occasional’ — as the £10 entry fee could get them three Full English Breakfasts at their Fallowfield local ‘Three Trees’. Wherever they were, they’d have Happy Mondays and all things 80s disco pop blaring through the speakers, ensuring a good time.

Band on the wall

If you were in Manchester in the 90s, you’d almost certainly go out to the places where there was the best music, and Band on the Wall was one of those places. The gang were drawn to the club on one night specifically for Alex’s gig there as a bass player in a band. Before going out, the gang would get suited up, usually with a tucked in graphic t-shirt and a pair of boxy jeans, ready to dance the night away. Whatever the genre playing, there were no preferences; a dance floor was all they needed.

About the author / 

Ella Bartman

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