The leafy suburb of Didsbury is well-known as one of Manchester’s most sought-after places to live. But one particular street, on the outskirts of the neighborhood, is even more desirable than the rest.
Old Broadway is an exclusive, private cul-de-sac that was once home to Factory Records founder Tony Wilson and TV’s favorite married couple, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. Judy has even described the 10 years they lived there watching their children grow up as the ‘happiest’ of her life.
Bordering Withington, just off the main drag of Wilmslow Road, Old Broadway is a tree-lined road with a grass verge running along the center. It features two mini-roundabouts that have huge trees growing from them. There is even more greenery at the end of the street, where it leads to a park.
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The large, imposing houses, a mix of detached and semi-detached, date back to between 1911 and 1913 and are set back from the road with front gardens. Their design is typical of the Arts and Crafts movement, with gabled roofs, wooden framing, and front porches supported by feature columns.
The avenue and the period properties on either side were designed as a complete entity and built by Emmanuel Nove – an emigrant from Ukraine who had arrived in Manchester in the mid-1890s. After setting up a firm of builders, he first constructed Burton Road and later in the 1920s, he built Nos. 6-14a Oxford Road, in the city center.
It is understood that the superior quality of the houses on Old Broadway made them popular with doctors, who worked at Manchester Royal Infirmary and were required to live within four miles of the hospital. In 1991, the street was made a conservation area to protect the historic and architectural elements that make it a unique place – meaning special planning permissions are required.
Houses along the stretch go for just shy of a million. One property sold in January 2020 for £ 925,000, according to Land Registry data, while another went for £ 945,000 in the same month. In April 2019, one of the five-bedroom homes sold for £ 1,336,000.
While the houses vary on the outside, inside, they have similar layouts, with large living and dining rooms, massive windows bringing in plenty of natural light, traditional decoration, and extensive back gardens. Some of the properties boast seven bedrooms, all of a decent size.
As one of the grandest roads in Manchester, it’s no surprise that it attracted Richard and Manchester-born Judy, who were based there when This Morning was still filmed in the north west. Writing in the Express in 2013, Judy said that having Fog Lane Park located at the end of their street made it a “haven for all children who lived there.”
She said the fact that the only people who drove down it were residents or their friends, who knew to drive carefully, meant they never had to worry about their children’s safety when they would be out playing cricket and football along the road. Neighbors got to know each other too, as they often hosted summer barbecues and Christmas parties in the street.
“The balloon-like shape of the street with the gates leading into the park at the bottom made us feel as if we were all in it together,” she said. The presenter, 73, recalled cherished memories of the kids on Christmas Eve one year, looking out for Father Christmas, with Richard dressed up with a white beard and red cloak.
Judy said the snowy, deserted street resembled “a softly-lit stage set”. She added: “Cul-de-sacs encourage a sense of safety and harmony.
“They have a strange, Hobbit-like English charm all of their own. The 10 years we spent watching our children grow up in Old Broadway were the happiest of my life.”
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