Didsbury - the Manchester suburb growing in confidence
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 April 2014 | UPDATED: 22:20 23 October 2015
Most people when asked to describe Didsbury would probably include the words 'desirable, affluent and leafy'. Those three words sum up one of the most sought-after Manchester suburbs by young professionals who still want an arty vibe. Didsbury has it all and, while there are those who feel it has changed a little too much in recent years, it's still a charming and exciting place to live and visit.
Less than five miles from Manchester city centre, it has managed to maintain its own personality although it is really three different areas. There’s Didsbury village with its galleries and established shops; West Didsbury which has a younger feel and is full of boutiques and vintage stores and East Didsbury with the busy railway station providing access to the city centre.
It’s one of those places people aspire to live in, with its range of high-end foodie shops, interiors and vintage fashions alongside bars and restaurants to cater for most tastes. It puts on festivals and events – the beer and arts festivals are two of the most popular – yet there’s always something happening on the streets of Didsbury.
Two striking things about Didsbury are that while you are surrounded by grand Victorian houses in tree-lined avenues and also you’re never more than a few minutes stroll from one of the well-tended parks. Sometimes you get to mix the two: on June 15 the popular National Gardens Scheme (NGS) is being held, after a year’s break, where nine householders will open up their gardens to the public. The scheme has already raised more than £30,000 for charity and usually attracts more than 1,000 visitors to the area. It’s a great way to get a feel for the place and see some private and hidden parts of Didsbury all at the same time. This year there are three new gardens, including a large family space with courtyard and ‘jewel garden’; a shady retreat planted with many rarities and a traditional cottage garden with rose covered pergola.
Historically part of Lancashire, there are records showing Didsbury as a hamlet in the 13th Century. It remained a rural area until the coming of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century and is now seen as part of the spread of Manchester city centre. It has some of the largest houses in the city, although these days there are also more flats and modern houses too. Many refer to it as Chorlton’s more expensive and less bohemian neighbour and it’s certainly a place which attracts young professionals, families and a fair few artists and writers. After all, Palatine Road in West Didsbury was the original home for Factory Records, Velvet Underground’s Nico once lived there and Bjork recorded in the area.
Many, particularly families, appreciate the green spaces on their doorstep. Fletcher Moss Botanical garden – a 21-acre park named after alderman Fletcher Moss who donated the park to Manchester in 1919 – is a popular location and, like Didsbury Park, it has a Green Flag award. The smaller Marie Louise Gardens is usually a quieter place and a great location to read or just think about how Didsbury has changed over the decades. Then, no doubt, you’ll want to head back to the busy streets and feel energised and entertained all over again.
*For more details about the NGS scheme go to www.ngs.org.uk