I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
A line-up of new songs is approaching The Bridgewater Hall, as the city celebrates 25 years of its tram system, also known as Metrolink.
Tram Tracks is a collaboration between Transport for Greater Manchester and The Bridgewater Hall. It will comprise 93 new pieces of music, song and spoken word tracks, one for each stop on Metrolink's network.
The songwriters and performers are rumoured to include the Manchester United Foundation Youth Choir and a choir formed by Ikea staff, The songs have been composed by professional musicians and songwriters as well as those who have never written a line or a note before.
Some of the numbers will be performed at a gala concert at The Bridgewater Hall on 9th July, in addition to pop-up performances on the Metrolink network during July. All the songs will be available to hear online, from 17 July.
A yellow, Bombardier M5000 tram leaves Shudehill Interchange. Photo by David Dixon, via Wikimedia Commons.
The Greater Manchester tram system opened on 6th April 1992. The first line ran from Bury to Manchester Victoria station. Queen Elizabeth II was the guest of honour for the official launch, three months later.
Metrolink now covers 60 miles. The previous incarnation of Manchester's tram network was called the Manchester Suburban Tramways Company. It went electric in 1901, having previously operarated on horse power. It closed in 1949, when the service was priced out by cheaper bus tickets.
The trams had a dramatic starring role in Coronation Street in 2010, when the ITV soap opera needed to deliver a major storyline to mark its 50th-birthday week.
Ironically, Coronation Street bosses reportedly objected to the Trafford Line being given the legal go-ahead in October 2016. The producers were concerned that the rattle of tram-wheels would interfere with filming.
As the landscape of Greater Manchester and Salford has changed and demand for transport has increased, Metrolink have opened new lines and stops. The MediaCity stop (which opened in 2010) was created for visitors and staff at the ITV and BBC studios - where programmes are filmed, including Match of the Day, Blue Peter and Mastermind.
Construction of the core section of the network near Manchester Piccadilly, 1991. Photo by Dr Neil Clifton, via Wikimedia Commons.
The MediaCity stop is also convenient for the Lowry Centre and Imperial War Museum North. The Manchester Airport line opened in 2014, at a cost of over £350 million.
The Bridgewater Hall held its first concert on 11 September 1996. It was built on the site of a former bus station and car park. Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September will be the hall's 21st Birthday Weekend.
Selected Tram Tracks will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall as part of its celebrations.
The 2,400 capacity concert hall 'floats free' of the ground on almost 'three hundred, earthquake-proof isolation bearings or giant springs', This ensures the Hall's carefully designed acoustic is protected from all outside noise and vibration including from trams.
The nearest tram stops for Bridgewater Hall are St Peter's Square and Deansgate Castlefield.
Bridgewater Hall - Happy 25th birthday to Metrolink Logo
Sunday 9 July 2017
Two Gala Concerts at The Bridgewater Hall; a chance to hear some of the newly written tracks performed live for the very first time!
Monday 17 July 2017
All 93 tracks will be available to download for free and there will be pop-up performances across the network.
Saturday 9 September 2017
The Bridgewater Hall's 21st Birthday Weekend
Selected tracks will be performed at The Bridgewater Hall as part of its 21st Birthday activities.