Amazing time-lapse of over 5,000 images captures the eerie beauty of Manchester's sewers

Who said sewers couldn't be stunning?

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The Independent Online

Above ground, Manchester is one the rise; a bustling economic and social hub in the North, keen to rival Birmingham and even London as one of the most exciting cities in the UK.

Yet underneath the nation's second most populous urban area, Greater Manchester has a stunning array of underground architecture: the city's hidden rivers, culverts and sewers.

CJ or "concretejungle", an urban explorer in the area, has long had an interest in the Mancunian underworld, after discovering the river Cornbrook when he climbed down an open manhole in some wasteland.

Yet sewers are completely different to underground rivers, as CJ explained to The Independent via email, and they require a lot of experience in order to navigate through them safely.

"They are unfriendly places which require protective equipment and an acceptance of risk. People are often aware of the sewers only when they become blocked or building new ones requires inconvenience. It's nice to show off some of the amazing architecture that is generally unseen."

CJ managed to bring Manchester's hidden architectural gems to the public with a stunning time-lapse that comprises over 5,000 images taken over a nine-month period. The finished product creates a beautiful, almost cartoon-like display of the sewers, capturing both the beauty of the underground structures and their eerie qualities.

CJ chose a time-lapse of images rather than a film because of the lighting. "It's pitch black usually so the camera needs around 10 seconds per image to properly expose a chamber lit by portable lights," CJ said.

After spending so much time underground, CJ has obviously seen some bizarre things. "The strangest thing I've found was in a storm sewer in London," he said. "At the bottom of a manhole shaft was a squirrel. After letting that out we then found a small yellow bird, possibly a Parakeet, sitting on the edge of the pipe in the pitch black.

"A quick grab and another climb up the shaft saw both animals freed."

Watch the full video below. Video courtesy of

Drains of Manchester from substormflow on Vimeo.