Hi Gordon. We must be near neighbours, I live in Clayton also, just off Cambridge Drive. As to your question, yes it was visually. Mind you, in a week or so it's the time of unending astronomical twilight, so that 'll add to the light pollution we're saddled with to make it more difficult to pick up. Ian.
Hi Gordon. I've seen M51 from my light polluted site (mag. 4 skies), in Newcastle- under -Lyme using a 105mm apo refractor. I also think I've spotted it with a 20x80 binoc. Wait for a good clear night with no moon give it another go. Ian.