The Factory Legacy #1 The City

August 6, 2011

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Factory Records recently. Partly because I’ve been dipping into James Nice’s exhaustive history of Factory , Shadowplayers; partly because a nice person bought me the Factory Communions box-set CD; and mainly because I’ve just spent a weekend in Manchester.

And it’s Manchester where Factory’s legacy hit me. The Hacienda may be long gone, but the city itself has been transformed – from the grimy black and white streets Joy Division stalked , to, well, a British Manhattan . Who’d have thought that Rob Gretton’s plot, hatched in a NY nightclub, to bring a bit of the Big Apple to his hometown so he could drink past closing time, would have  started the  transformation that has resulted in today’s red brick and chrome megalopolis. Castlefields looks like TriBeCa; loft living is everywhere; chrome cafes and bars sparkle in the sun – yes there was even sun;  the Northern Quarter has become a northern SoHo and G-Mex has rebranded itself as (cheekily)  Manchester (Grand) Central.

The sheer chutzpah of the Factory collective, coupled with their stubborn civic pride and their  belief in themselves and their city, which in their eyes was the centre of the universe, made this possible.It may have only started the redevelopment ball rolling, but others were swept along in the crazy dream.  Art, not industry gave birth to this transformation (oh and maybe a bit if drug laundering money helped too).

The north has indeed risen again.



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