THOSE of us of an age old enough to remember Southampton’s Manchester Street will fondly recall the shops, houses and pubs that used to make up the vibrant street in the heart of the city

Now nothing but memories remain of this once busy community as the area was swept away to make way for a multi-storey car park and the Mall Marlands shopping centre.

It was a workmanlike street that everyone used, but no one took much notice of it until it was too late and the bulldozers moved in.

Skirting the old Hants and Dorset bus station, Manchester Street, like nearby Windsor Terrace, was full of small businesses and was always bustling with activity.

The bus station thronged with passengers during the morning and evening rush hours. Some people, on their way home, put on time by visiting the basement wine bar at the end of the street.

There was also a shoe repairer, a dry cleaner, a bank, a watchmaker and engraver, and in another basement premises was the barber, Percy Horn, who has just retired after he moved his business to Highfield.

Manchester Street, with its terraced homes, stretched down towards Western Esplanade, while the other end came out in Above Bar next door to the one time gents’ outfitters, Dunns.

At 23 Manchester Street – now lost under tons of concrete of the new development – stood the Exeter Hotel, a public house that had its roots as far back as the early 1850s when the Exeter Inn stood on the same spot.

Nearby also stood the Baker’s Arms on the corner of Cliffton Terrace and Manchester Street, another pub that had its origins in the mid-19th century but called orders for the last time in 1964.

Gradually Manchester Street disappeared. First the houses and pubs went during the 1960s and then in 1988 the colonnade of shops went, despite last-minute efforts to save them.

“It was a piece of the fabric of the city we were fond of but it was never considered historic and so the properties were never listed,’’ said a Southampton City Council spokesman on the day the bulldozers moved in.

All that remains today of the memory of Manchester Street is a replica façade in the Mall Marlands shopping centre.