Like a lot of people, I’ve been watching a little bit too much of The Walking Dead. Although the writing sometimes resembles the kind of inane babble you would find written in crap on a toilet wall, it’s good enough for a nice long binge in these cold months. This got me thinking about Manchester and its variety of beautiful, longstanding buildings. Where would be the perfect place to hole up before getting your innards ripped out and noshed on?
To begin with, I consulted The Zombie Survival Guide by the brilliant Max Brookes, for some tips on what to look for in a defensible, safe place to stay. The main points are:
- Is there a wall, fence or other defendable perimeter
- How many potential entrances/exits are there?
- Is there a potential escape route?
- What is the supply situation?
- Is there a water line?
- If needed, are weapons or tools available?
So with these in mind, I set about looking around Manchester for the perfect place, and came up with this shortlist…
This was the first place I considered, mostly because the surrounding area is already overrun by pasty, pale, groaning creatures every weekend anyway. But when the real zombies arrive, and not just some greasy emo-goth wannabe, the cathedral initially seems like a great place to head to.
With many extensive refurbishments taking place on the Cathedral in the 19th century you can be safe in the knowledge that the walls are thick and strong, and the exits and entrances are secured by huge, heavy doors. The building managed to survive both the Blitz and the IRA bomb too, so it should definitely be strong enough against soft, shuffling humans.
In terms of supplies, you can expect plenty of reading material, an ample supply of little wafer bits of bread and red wine, as well as close access to the ample food stored within the selection of restaurants in the Corn Exchange opposite. The Cathedral is located right on the banks of the River Irwell, so water shouldn’t be a problem, and with the grass outside you can plant yourself plenty of fruits and veg to keep your strength up.
Perhaps the defining feature of the Cathedral is in its subterranean virtues. There are supposedly 5 underground passageways which lead to various other places in the city; including Victoria station and even Moston! So if the Cathedral is overrun, there are plenty of places to escape to.
Stopping the Cathedral being a truly viable option is the simple fact that it is one of the first places that most people will flock to when the apocalypse eventually comes. Not only will there be countless god-believing people looking for salvation from the Almighty; there will be a huge gang looking to take advantage of these do-gooders and get some free wine. The place will be swamped within hours of an outbreak, and with that many juicy brains in one place – the undead shall flock.
Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX
HM Prison Manchester
If the second and third series of the Walking Dead can tell you anything, it’s that there are many advantages to staying in a prison during a zombie apocalypse. First of all you can expect great protection, with strong fences, lookout towers and more cages than Jamie Theakston’s basement. HM Prison Manchester (Strangeways) is obviously no exception to the rule, insofar that not only is it high-security, the 16-inch perimeter walls and huge ventilation tower will provide you with ample protection from even the most ravenous undead pleb.
In terms of practicalities, there will be plenty of food and water, ample beds, and a (presumably) endless supply of shanks and weapons in which to defend yourself in case of any zombie infiltrations. On top of this, it’s highly likely there is a steady supply of drugs on site in case you want to get smashed off your face and forget about the horrors awaiting you outside the walls.
Obviously though, the presence of up to 1200 inmates in the prison may make you want to reconsider your decision to head here upon first news of an outbreak. Although the vast majority of people in the prison will be willing to help and assist – there will also likely be a few David Charlton’s there who just want to shit themselves in a wheelchair and make things difficult. Eventually you can envision the situation turning out just like in Walking Dead, you will likely find yourself overrun by zombies and humans, and have to leg it outta there as fast as possible.
HM Prison Manchester
1 Southall St, Manchester M60 9AH
Ahh the Town Hall. This huge imposing building, completed in 1877 dominates the Manchester skyline with its huge clock tower and fantastic neo-gothic exterior. The glorious interior can also provide ample secure rooms in which to twiddle your thumbs as well as plenty of planning permissions, council tax summons and kebab shop applications to read. Surprisingly few Northern Powerhouse documents to have a look at though.
In terms of supplies, there isn’t a natural source of water nearby, but there are plenty of boozers surrounding the building in which you can pilfer some lovely craft ales, or bottles of Stoli. You’ve got The Waterhouse, The Town Hall Tavern and Albert Square Chop House to name a few. Plenty of restaurants too in which to get some much needed Greek (Rosafa), Pizza (Dogs N Dough) or Meat (Red’s True BBQ) – so edible supplies shouldn’t be a problem. Defending yourself may be though. As home to Manchester City Council, the building may already be home to plenty of tools, but if you need something to actually defend yourself, you’re going to struggle.
The main issue with the Town Hall though is the many entrances and exits which will create a nightmare against the roaming undead. There are just too many ways into the building (including through the Town Hall Extension) in order to satisfactorily defend yourself, as well as too many maze-like rooms in which an infected civil servant can hide and then bite you in the arse. For this reason alone you should also disqualify many of the traditional Manchester ‘beauties’ including The Principal Hotel, The Midland, the London Road Fire Station and the UMIST building on Sackville Street.
Manchester Town Hall
Albert Square, Manchester M60 2LA
As Manchester’s tallest building, Beetham Tower could be considered perfect for an inner city fortress, with 360° views of the end of the world and an endless supply of Hilton bath robes. The hotel will have plenty of food, water, medical supplies and bedding, while the apartments will provide you with loads of Xboxes, books and vibrators in which to entertain yourself. The sumptuous bar Cloud 23 can also provide you with an opulent setting in which to enjoy some delicious cocktails, afternoon tea and some champagne to drink away the worry.
First things first, you will need to abandon the bottom couple of floors. The glass interior will not only advertise your presence to the undead, it also provides very poor protection and will be smashed within minutes. My advice would be to head right up to architect Ian Simpson’s penthouse, where there are already 21 four meter tall olive and lemon trees for you to pluck to death. It would also be fun to jump on his bed and have sex in his shower.
Unfortunately the main issue with Beetham Tower is something we have seen before in the likes of 28 Days Later. Although great for defence, once your supplies run out, the building is almost impossible to leave in order to get more.
301 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ
Peveril of the Peak
Thanks to Shaun of the Dead, everyone knows that the best thing to do during a zombie apocalypse is to take your car, grab your mum, grab your girlfriend, head to the pub, have a nice cold pint and wait for the whole thing to blow over. After a long think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best Winchester equivalent pub in Manchester would be Peveril of the Peak.
Not only is this fantastic pub a Manchester institution, with a gorgeous green tiled exterior and an interior featuring stained glass and original wooden benches. As well as a great range of pub snacks, there will be a whole host of beers, lagers, spirits and wines in which to get blasted on. As it is fully detached, there’s only two entrances – both of which have big heavy doors on. Upstairs is a residence, which can provide you with entertainment, comforts and a nice shower. To top it all off, if the worst does come to the worst, there is always the cellar exit, or even a jump from the roof for a quick getaway down the canal.
Once food and drink does run out, there’s Rain Bar opposite where you can scavenge for drinks, as well as a plethora of places just up the road on Oxford road, including a McDonalds which will supply you with food that never seems to ever go off.
The only problem I can foresee with this option is that due to the popularity of Shaun of the Dead, and the integration of such an idea into modern culture, every idiot within a 5 mile radius will head to the pubs, with the Peveril being no exception. While the atmosphere of a busy pub is somewhat welcomed on a pay day Friday night; with the undead nipping at your heels, a busy pub will become very tedious very quickly. It’s likely there will be a couple of dick heads in there, chatting loudly, doing coke in the toilets and spilling their pints all over the place. Add to this an endless supply of overtly racist jokes and footy ‘banter’ – all pubs might as well be a complete right-off that not even a brilliant Clyde impression could fix.
Peveril of the Peak
127 Great Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5JQ
Dawn of the Dead envisioned zombies as mindless creatures unconsciously, by instinct, heading to the shopping mall as they always had done in their human-lives as a metaphor for capitalist culture and it’s effect on modern life and the Arndale would be no exception to this.
Sure, there would be plenty of food, drink, silver Top Shop dresses and LEGO to keep you going, but the place will just become a beacon for any or all humans and zombies in the area. Undead shoppers will create a constant danger, as they shuffle past Luvyababes heading towards Dorothy Perkins as they used to do on a Saturday afternoon while their husband was in the pub telling overtly racist jokes to his balding mates.
The only saving grace of the Arndale centre would be the Arndale Market, which would provide you with a huge selection of food and cuisines that you would likely never get bored of – including one of the best Mexican’s in Manchester – Pancho’s Burritos.
Arndale Food Market
Manchester Arndale, Market St, Manchester M4 3AQ
Manchester Police Museum
After some careful consideration, I have decided that this is the best place to come in case of a zombie apocalypse. Located in one of the cities earliest police stations, expect strong walls and secure rooms as well as 5 genuine Victorian cells in which to sleep securely. With only 4 ground floor entrances – it’s easily fortified and defended, and the magistrate’s court upstairs could provide a perfect final stand-off location in the unlikely event of a breach.
In terms of supplies, although there wouldn’t be much food and drink in the museum when you arrive, there are plenty of places locally in which to loot. There’s the brilliant Hula for rum, Slice for pizzas and The Patron for beer. The saving grace of the museum though is weapons. One of my favourite rooms showcases many home-made weapons found throughout the area in genuine cases throughout the years, all of which can maim or dismember a zombie with ease. Add to this some excellent police riot gear and you will be like Steven Seagal at a kids birthday party – invincible.
Another key reason to head here are the volunteers. If you are lucky enough to have the world end on a Tuesday, there will be a throng of lovely ex-coppers waiting for you with some blinding stories, great survival tips and choke holds to make bouncers in 42s wet themselves.
Manchester Police Museum & Archives
Open Tuesdays – Free
57A Newton St, Manchester M1 1ET
So there you have it, head to the Police Museum. Or do you have another, better suggestion of where to head to? Let me know!