When you mention Chorlton to people, most people say something like: “Oh yeah, it’s really nice.” It is the type of place you would tell people you lived, probably the kind of place your parents would like you to live. The sort of place which is so nauseatingly nice you almost do not want to live there.
And if you’re from Fallowfield, Chorlton does not want you to visit, it would seem. I waited over 30 minutes for a number 22 bus which cost £2.50 for a fifteen-minute ride. There is a different stagecoach service which goes from Fallowfield, but your best bet is to get a bus into uni and catch the 85 or 86 opposite the RNCM.
When I arrived there I soon realised that Chorlton on a Tuesday morning at 10:30am is like Fallowfield on a Sunday morning at 9am. A lot of its celebrated independent shops (of which there are many) were closed just leaving the few chain retailers such as B&M Bargains and Costa Coffee. Whilst I waited for the rest of Chorlton to wake up I did some grocery shopping at a fruit and veg shop which came to £6.50 in total, far from unreasonable but probably double the price you would pay at Worldwide on Curry Mile.
Outside, I spoke to a Big Issue seller who had recently moved to Chorlton: “It’s very good. I used to live in Stockport but it’s better than there.” Keith, the manager of café Battery Park Juice Bar agreed: “I prefer it to Stockport.” Having just paid £1.80 for a latte, I could not disagree. What distinguishes Chorlton from most other merely nice areas seems to be its ability to keep chain stores to a minimum. “There are lots of independent shops, you don’t get a lot of big nationals as much, it has got more of a village feel it than a lot of other places,” Keith tells me. In particular Oddbins, a specialist wine shop, about as far away from Fallwofield’s New Zealand Wines as you can imagine and Simon Dunn Chocolatier caught my attention whilst strolling along the main street.
A short amble away from the centre, I stumble across a giant Morrisons, proof that Chorlton has not entirely avoided massive chain stores. Nearby there are four takeaways lined up, a nice contrast to the excessive amount of boutique coffee shops and international restaurants that fill the rest of Chorlton. Close by on Keppel Road, there is a stencilled portrait by Bristol-based street artist Stewy of a guy called Quentin Crisp who was a writer and gay icon which is worth checking out.
Before leaving I come across a Co-operative Funeral care. Despite all the chatter about Chorlton becoming a Yuppie utopia the most noticeable thing about it on weekdays is the amount of people shuffling by with walking sticks and shopping trolleys—although, worth visiting if you have a lot of time, patience and money.
Next Time: Moss Side
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