|Dominating the city centre skyline is the remarkable new £189m library|
It would be hard for a boater to dislike a place that embraced its place at the centre of Britain's canal network so wholeheartedly but this is not just about canals. It's the architecture I enjoy – a magnificent hot-pot of eras and styles from Victorian Gothic to 21st century steel and glass and in between everything from brutalist concrete to elaborate red brick. Some of it is awful; some of it will probably be considered awful in years to come and some of it is simply superb – like the Council House in Victoria Square and the Library.
|A different sort of grandeur – the Victorian Council House|
|And from ultra-modern Selfridges...|
|...it's but a few steps to the bustling Rag Market|
And when we wanted something for the boat we just walked a few minutes away from the centre to unearth White's Ironmongery, whose interior is probably unchanged in 50 years. Brown boxes of screws line the shelves behind the time-worn wooden counter.
|A few minutes from the centre is this timewarp ironmongers|
|More gleaming modernism in The Cube|
|Space age interior of the library contrasts with the rich intricacy of the Shakepeare Room|
|Admiring the view from the ninth floor 'secret garden'|
The library is more than just a place to borrow a Lee Child novel or doze quietly in a reference section. It has huge archived collections, including those of the Boulton & Watt factory. Unfortunately, the cash-strapped council is already having to cut opening hours to save money!