Posted by: Richard Frost | December 10, 2013

Best view in Manchester – Manchester Town Hall clock tower

Albert Memorial in Albert Square

Where can you find the best view in Manchester?

There are several contenders. Some say the Cloud 23 bar in Beetham Tower, others prefer city-centre skyscrapers such as City Tower or Manchester One (it’ll always be Portland Tower to me). I’ve even heard people rave about the view from Shudehill Interchange car park (yes really).

Manchester Town Hall

For me, though, the city’s best viewpoint is at the top of Manchester Town Hall. This huge Gothic building, completed in 1877, cost the city £1m – a real statement of intent back when Manchester was riding high on the Industrial Revolution. In shape, it’s basically a giant triangle built around the cavernous rectangular Great Hall (venue of the latest Manchester Wine Festival):

Triangular Manchester Town Hall

The best place to appreciate Manchester Town Hall and its Great Hall is from above – and specifically its 85-metre clock tower. You can only climb the clock tower for a few weeks around Christmas and, with Christmas just around the corner, I decided to take a look.

Manchester Town Hall clock tower tour

The Manchester Town Hall clock tower tour, run by Manchester Guided Tours, lasts for just over an hour and tells you plenty about the history of the building. You might even get a chance to poke round the Great Hall if you’re lucky:

Manchester's Great Hall

On your way up the 173 steps, you’ll see the antiquated clock mechanism that’s powered the clock since it started ticking in 1879:

19th century clock mechanism

You’ll also see inside the clock face:

Inside the Manchester Town Hall clock

And at the top you’ll get to stand next to the giant bell, named Great Abel after the Lord Mayor who opened Manchester Town Hall, as it strikes the hour:

Great Abel bell

View from the clock tower

But the best bit is simply admiring the 360-degree view from the top of the tower. On a clear day you can see from Kinder Scout in the Peak District to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station near Widnes. You can see all the city’s major landmarks. And if you time it right you can look directly down onto the luminous Santa and into the Manchester Christmas Markets hub at Albert Square.

For me, this is the best view in Manchester:

View from clock tower into Manchester Christmas Markets

Clock tower tours run three times daily on alternate days until 2 January 2014. Tickets, priced at £9 per person plus booking fee, can be reserved on the Manchester Town Hall Clock Tower Guided Tour EventBrite page.

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