In town to visit University of Manchester? You’re in luck. Not only does it have a bustling campus with bags of character, it’s also right in the centre of town, meaning Manchester’s attractions are all within easy reach. But if culture’s your thing, you don’t even have to leave campus because the university-owned Manchester Museum is here, too.
Manchester University is a whopper of an institution, but that’s because it’s actually made up of two institutions - the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The two merged in 2004 and, in doing so, they created the largest single-site university in the UK.
The Victoria University of Manchester was England’s first civic university founded in 1851, while UMIST can trace its origins way back to 1824 with the formation of the Manchester Mechanics' Institution, a movement dedicated to the education of working men.
The University of Manchester has achievements it’s proud to shout about. The first atom was split here by Ernest Rutherford in 1917, and in June 1948, a rudimentary computer built by Tom Kilburn and Sir Freddie Williams ran its first stored program. Anyone choosing to study here will be in good company, too. The University of Manchester counts 25 Nobel-Prize winners among former staff and students, while famous alumni you may actually have heard of include Ben Elton and Benedict Cumberbatch.
You’ll find Manchester University on the south side of the city centre and it’s divided into two main areas. There’s the Sackville Street area (the old UMIST campus) and the Oxford Road area (once the Victoria University of Manchester campus). There is a central point for visitors, though – the Visitors’ Centre in University Place on Oxford Road. Manchester airport is 10 miles from the University of Manchester. Either hop in a taxi for the 30-minute drive, catch a train to either Piccadilly or Oxford Road, or hop on a bus – the 43a or 45a both stop here.
The campus is close to Manchester Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Manchester Victoria. To get to the Oxford Road campus from Manchester Piccadilly, take the 147 bus, also called the Oxford Road Link. It runs every ten minutes.
It’s easy to find Manchester University as it’s clearly signposted on all approach routes into the city. There are six car parks on campus, but on graduation and open days they fill up so quickly, you’re better off on public transport.
The University is well-served by local buses, and there’s even a free service. The Oxford Road Link 147 bus lets University of Manchester staff and students travel for free between Sackville Street and Oxford Road.
Although there is a free shuttle bus service that will take you around campus, all buildings are within easy walking distance of each other. If you’re looking for Manchester Museum, you’ll find it nestled in the neo-gothic splendour of the Old Quadrangle on Oxford Road.
Although known as a campus university, Manchester may not be what you’re expecting if you’ve visited other campus institutions. Most facilities can be found on the Oxford Road and Sackville Street areas, but university buildings are integrated into the city centre, with non-university buildings and major roads in-between.
Blue Badge holders visiting the University of Manchester can access the campus parking that’s nearest the building they’re visiting. To get in, use the intercom help points at the entrance. Should those car parks be full, there are dedicated disabled bays at the multi-storey car park at Booth Street.
The Oxford Road area has lots of pubs and bars with, as you might expect, a largely student clientele. But if you’re visiting for a graduation or open day, you may want to find a watering hole that’s slightly more suitable for everyone in the family. Gorilla really fits the bill. The drinks’ selection downstairs is awesome but, if you’re partial to a perfectly-mixed G and T, head upstairs to Gorilla’s legendary Gin Parlour.
No visit to Manchester University is complete with a visit to Christie’s Bistro, set in an iconic building in the Old Quadrangle. A sanctuary of calm in the middle of campus, nothing much has changed since it was Christie’s Library – the walls are still lined with rows of books. The relaxed lounge area is popular with students, but there’s a more formal dining area that’s great for a special occasion.