Footage of city centre life in the past has emerged - giving a fascinating insight into Manchester's past.

Some scenes are quite different - like the sight of cars driving around St Peter's Square - but others have parallels with today, like the people who can be seen wearing face masks on Oxford Road about two minutes in.

The threat the post-war commuters were guarding themselves against was air pollution - rather than the coronavirus pandemic which has emptied today's city centre - and many of the buildings appear blackened with soot in the footage.

The footage was posted on Twitter by the account Manchester Past, and is an edit of a longer film produced by Talking Pictures TV/Renown Productions, originating from a private collection.

It shows the working day beginning, with people arriving on packed buses and streaming into Manchester.

It also shows Manchester Crown Court at Crown Square, which was built between 1957 and 1962, when it was new.

This 1961 image from Manchester Council's archive also shows how Piccadilly bus station looked

Professor Martin Dodge, a senior lecturer in human geography at Manchester University, said the film begins in St Peter's Square, which looks very different when compared to today.

The area has a gyratory traffic system, going past the Cenotaph which is just in shot.

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Now, many decades later the city's leaders are, 'finally looking at getting rid of cars and traffic from Albert Square,' he said.

"It is something that has been on the cards and has been considered for 50 or 60 years," Prof Dodge added.

An image of Oxford Road station in 1960 from the council's archive - the station can be seen in the Talking Pictures footage posted on Twitter

"It looks as if it was shot from the top of a building, at a slightly odd angle", he said of the St Peter's footage. "It's not quite on the ground, but it's not quite an aerial image."

"The film, although it looks older than it actually is, is from the 1950s and 1960s at a time of transition for the city centre," he went on.

"It looks older because it is black and white.

"But because it features Piccadilly Gardens and the Oxford Road station roof era, we can say it is around this time period."

An aerial view of Manchester city centre in 1950

"We tend to forget how dirty towns and cities were in the 1950s and 60s," Prof Dodge said.

"The students are wearing masks because of the air pollution."

Another notable feature is the uniformity of fashions that can be seen in the film. Prof Dodge says this because it was 'before the Swinging Sixties and teenage fashion had taken off.'

"Everyone is wearing big black coats," he added. "Certainly the vehicles on the road show it to be late 1950s and early 1960s."

Manchester Crown Court at Crown Square, pictured in 1961 - another view of the building can be seen in the recently unearthed footage

The post-war era was a time when lots of futuristic ideas were mooted for the city's infrastructure.

"This was a period when lots of plans were being floated to build tunnels, monorails and ring roads in the city centre," Prof Dodge said.

"It was hoped they would solve the transport problems - but they never happened. The Mancunian Way was built, but it never really solved the problems."

It's also an era that echoes our own, with the Northern Powerhouse and plans for rail and proposals to pedestrianise Deansgate in the city centre on the town hall's agenda.

The Mancunian Way under construction in 1960

"People have since the end of World War Two been trying to look at ways to solve the issues caused by the growth of cars," Prof Dodge said.

"These plans come and go. Certainly in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are again looking at getting people out of cars and onto bikes and pedestrianisation."

Trams were around until the 1940s in Manchester city centre and then reemerged 50 years later. But the Metrolink system is a 'shadow of the system in the 1920s,' he said.

And as for the future?

The academic says it is 'too early' to predict how the city centre will change again moving on from the pandemic. But he is confident people will return, perhaps with a hybrid of home working and office working, and believes them to be more resilient than town centres.

"I think the Arndale retail will struggle", he added. "But people want the theatre and the buzz of cities.

"City centres will recover - but it is the second tier places that will struggle; the likes of Oldham and Stockport or Bury and Altrincham. Big city centres have resilience."

Cllr Pat Karney says he is proud of how the city centre has changed

Speaking of the footage, Councillor Pat Karney said he was struck by how dirty the buildings were - and how everyone was dressed the same.

"I think Mancunians will be amazed seeing this footage," he said. "The city centre back then is almost like a completely different Manchester.

"It almost looks like people from a different country. I was shocked by how dark and polluted the buildings were. Mancunians were breathing in the toxic air before the Clean Air Acts were brought in.

The city centre's bustling bus station in an archive image from 1957

"Another thing that struck me was it appears there were no young people - because everyone is dressed the same. Even young people are wearing formal clothing."

A huge fan of St Peter's Square, the prominent local politician describes it as 'my favourite square in the city'.

He recalls how recently as 36 years ago, people did not want to live in the city centre, describing how when Wimpey built the first houses near Granada studio they were '£12,500 for a one bed' and '£15,000 for a two-bed, but no-one wanted them.'

In the end, he recalls, Granada took 10 of the homes for its staff. But now the city centre is' bursting with people who want to live here.'