2009 has been very interesting for collaborative hacking. Stockport Hackspace caught my attention first, and I went to a few meetings and met some very cool people there but trekking down to Heaton Chapel after work got a bit too much for me. Recently, MadLab started up in Manchester as well. I went along to their hackday on Saturday. They have a great working space of three floors in some of the otherwise unused buildings in the northern quarter. There were some great people there as well, mostly working on small robots from the high tech micromice to simple shufflebots. MadLab looks very promising and I'll take along some stuff to break apart and hack together next time they run an event.
Stockport Hackspace are planning on (and seem well on the path to) opening a Hackspace in central Manchester.
On the heavier side, PitStart garage caught my attention. It's a pay by the hour garage with tools included. I have to wonder how much I'd end up paying if I drove in and then made my car undriveable, as I often do when I try to fix things on my car myself. It's also in London so not a great deal of use to me, but I'd love to see more of this type of thing around the UK.