Fred Aldous

Iconic, century-spanning art supply shop situated in the city’s creative epicentre, which it helped to define

Fred Aldous
37 Lever Street, Manchester, M1 1LW
0161 236 4224

Monday: 9am-5.30pm
Tuesday: 9am-5.30pm
Wednesday: 9am-5.30pm
Thursday: 9am-5.30pm
Friday: 9am-5.30pm
Saturday: 9am-6pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm

The Northern Quarter, like Manchester itself, has a lot to answer for. This city centre district is, arguably, the birthplace of contemporary Mancunian cool, home to some of our hometown’s original destination bars, several of its best-loved and longest running music venues — from Band On the Wall and Night and Day Cafe to Mint Lounge — and, even post-gentrification, remains the epicentre of artist and grass roots cultural life in this corner of the world. With this in mind, Fred Aldous is one of the most fitting shops in the neighbourhood, a retail operation calling on almost a century-and-a-half of experience to ensure exceptional service and unrivalled choice.

First established in 1886, the business is still family run and has operated in and around what is now the Northern Quarter for all that time. The changes that must have been witnessed over those years are almost beyond belief, but one thing has remained constant — this is a beloved shop for anyone after high quality art supplies. And they are here in abundance, with three floors stocking a staggering 30,000 individual products, across a variety of crafts, arts, gifts and hobbies. Simply put, if Fred Aldous doesn’t have it, or won’t order it, whatever ‘it’ is either doesn’t exist, or isn’t worth the effort. 

During its 100-year-plus tenure at the current Stevenson Square site, the shops has collaborated with a number of local artists on street murals and abstract pieces, helping give this end of town its unique and inimitable identity. Clare Birtwistle, Jay Sharples, and The Hammo are among the names to have been involved, alongside Marcus Method, Tara Collette, Caroline Dowsett and EV Hardaker. All that aside, back inside Fred Aldous itself you’ll also find one of just a handful of vintage photo booths left in the UK, which has a born on date of 1967. The team are “dedicated to preserving the enchantment and historical significance of analogue photography,” celebrating its “unique texture, delightful imperfections, and pure spontaneity”. Pay £5 for four poses in three minutes and you’ll understand what they mean.