Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Manchester from The Macquarie Dictionary

a city in north-western England, connected with the Mersey estuary by a ship canal (57 km long); university, founded 1880.


Summary Article: Manchester
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Metropolitan district of Greater Manchester, and city in northwest England, on the River Irwell, 50 km/31 mi east of Liverpool; population (2001) 394,300. A financial and manufacturing centre, its industries include banking, insurance, and printing; the production of cotton and man-made textiles, petro-chemicals, rubber, paper, machine tools, and processed foods; and heavy, light, and electrical engineering. Tourism has become increasingly important. It is linked to the River Mersey and the Irish Sea by the Manchester Ship Canal, opened in 1894, although only one dock remains open.

History Originally a Roman camp (Mancunium or Mamucium), Manchester is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and by the 13th century was a centre for the wool trade. Its damp climate and many waterways made it ideal for the production of cotton, which was introduced in the 16th century. By the mid-18th century, the Manchester area was a world centre of manufacture, using cotton imported from North America and India. The Peterloo massacre, when troops attacked unarmed supporters of parliamentary reform, took place at St Peter's Fields in 1819. In the 19th century Manchester was the centre for a school of political economists, including John Bright and Richard Cobden, who campaigned for the repeal of the Corn Laws in the first half of the century. Manchester was also the original home of The Guardian newspaper, which was founded as the Manchester Guardian in 1821. After 1945 there was a sharp decline in the cotton industry, and many disused mills were refurbished to provide alternative industrial uses.

Features Manchester cathedral dates from the 15th century and was built in the Perpendicular style. It has the widest medieval nave in Britain. The Old Wellington Inn in Shambles Square, thought to date from 1378, started as part of a meat market, was a recruiting office, and became a pub in 1810. Manchester is the home of Bridgewater Hall, a 2,400-seat concert hall which houses the Hallé Orchestra; the Royal Northern College of Music; and Chetham's School of Music. Manchester Grammar School was founded in 1515, and there are four universities: the University of Manchester, UMIST, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the University of Salford. Manchester United Football Club is located at Old Trafford near to the large Trafford Centre shopping complex. Notable buildings include the Royal Exchange (1869, now a theatre); the Town Hall (1877) designed by Alfred Waterhouse, with its 87 m/285 ft spire; the Free Trade Hall (1856), built in a Renaissance style; Liverpool Road station (1830), the world's oldest surviving passenger station; and the Whitworth Art Gallery (1889). Libraries include the Central Library (1934), which is the world's largest municipal library, and is designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; and the John Rylands Library (1900) on Deansgate, which houses a large collection of rare books and manuscripts, including The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1474), the first book ever printed in English. The waterways of Manchester once played a vital role in the industrial revolution and have become a major attraction within the city. The Castlefield Urban Heritage Park includes the Granada television studios, including the set of the soap opera Coronation Street open to visitors, and also the Museum of Science and Industry. Exhibition centres include G-Mex/MICC (1986), a development of the former Central Railway Station (1880); and Urbis, an urban museum opened in 2002. Heaton Park is Europe's largest municipal park, and covers 260 ha/640 acres. The Printworks is a futuristic family entertainment complex with 24-hour licence, as well as a range of nightclubs, themed bars and restaurants, live music arenas, and indoor streets. Manchester International airport is the largest municipally-owned airport in the country. Manchester Velodrome, in the east of the city, is Britain's only indoor Olympic cycle track. Metrolink, a light rail system, was opened in 1992. The Commonwealth Games were held in Manchester in 2002.

Waterways Manchester lies in the centre of a basin flanked on the north by the Rossendale upland, and on the east by the Pennines; lowlands lie to the south and west. The basin contains numerous rivers: the Irwell, Mersey, Irk, Medlock, and Tib flow through the modern city, though the last two of these are now mainly underground. Rivers contributed to the city's industrial growth, supplying water for the textile industry, but were not part of a commercial network, as many of the valleys are narrow. The Mersey–Irwell Canal (1720) to give better communications between Liverpool and Manchester. Previously, goods had been taken to Warrington by water and then brought by road. In 1763 the Bridgewater Canal was opened from Worsley to Manchester, halving the cost of transporting coal. The extension westwards of the Bridgewater Canal in 1766 to Runcorn gave a further reduction in transport costs, and also a passenger service twice daily. In the last years of the 18th century, canals were built to Bolton, Rochdale, Todmorden (connecting at Sowerby Bridge with the Calder Canal), Huddersfield, and Oldham. The Manchester Ship Canal (1894) connected the city with the Mersey estuary, and Manchester has been a significant port, despite its location 55 km/34 mi from the sea. In the early 19th century, the canals dominated much of the city centre and were surrounded by numerous factories, warehouses, timber yards, and other industrial areas.

Development of the railways Manchester attracted railways as readily as canals. In 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester line was built to a terminus in Liverpool Road which is still in use. In 1838 a line to Bolton and a second station were opened, and in 1839 the Manchester and Leeds railway was built from a third station in Oldham Road, completed in 1841. The London link, and a corresponding fourth station, was built in 1842, and in 1845 the Sheffield and Lincolnshire railway was opened. In 1844 Exchange Station (now closed) was built, and connected in 1845 by a long platform to its larger neighbour, Victoria Station. Central station (now also closed) was begun in 1867 and London Road, now known as Piccadilly station, developed from the original Store Street station of 1842.

18th- and 19th-century development Little remains of 18th-century Manchester, other the church of St Ann and St John Street, with its two Georgian terraces. The old city centre around its parish church, which became a cathedral when the diocese was formed in 1847, had several streets with Tudor buildings, almost all of which were destroyed by bombing in 1940. In 1801 Manchester's population, with Salford, was 84,000, more than Liverpool (78,000) or Birmingham (74,000), and by 1851 its population had risen to 367,955. There was also large-scale immigration: by 1851 more than one tenth of population had been born in Ireland. Residential areas in the centre were replaced by new public buildings, factories, railway extensions, warehouses, and roads. The more affluent citizens settled in suburbs up to 16 km/19 mi from the city centre, such as Withington, Fallowfield, and Didsbury to the south (the least industrial side of Manchester), and particularly along railway line to Altrincham (1849). By the end of the century, the city of Manchester had become part of a conurbation with a population of 2,150,000 (1901).

20th-century development Reconstruction and rebuilding in Manchester began in earnest after World War I, though the endless streets of sub-standard homes did not finally disappear until the 1960s. New housing estates on the fringes of built-up areas provided better amenities to lower socio-economic groups. In 1931, 23 sq km/9 sq mi of Cheshire were incorporated into the city, and the building of Wythenshawe began. In 1931 the city population was 766,300, but it had declined to 662,000 by 1961. The city centre was devastated in June 1996 when an IRA bomb exploded in the Arndale Shopping Centre. An international competition was held to select a designer for a new city centre, which was rebuilt at a cost of about £43 million. The winning design, announced in November 1996, included a Millennium centre, a Millennium quarter around the cathedral, a winter garden, a cathedral visitor centre, and the new Exchange Square. Manchester's water supply is piped from Thirlmere and Haweswater in the Lake District.

Ethnic diversity Manchester's Chinatown, with the largest Chinese Archway outside of China, is home to one of Europe's largest Chinese communities. Wilmslow Road in Rusholme contains the highest concentration of Asian businesses in the country. Manchester also has the largest Jewish community outside of London, and significant African, Afro-Caribbean, and Eastern European populations.

Pollution An Irish study (1993–95) found Manchester to be the European city worst affected by acid rain, with building stones being dissolved faster than elsewhere (other cities in the study included Athens, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Padua, and Donegal). During the study period Manchester's rainfall was amongst the lowest recorded, but the rain falling was the most acid.

2002 commonwealth games Athletes from 72 nations will compete in what is expected to be the largest Commonwealth Games ever. There was a four-month festival leading up to the Games. Sportcity, a multi-million pound sporting complex, was built to host the Games, and houses a 38,000-seat stadium, indoor tennis centre, and a sports academy, as well as sports-related leisure and retail developments. It was scheduled to become home to Manchester City Football Club for the 2003/04 football season onwards.

documents

Merchants, Tradesmen, and Working Men, Inhabitants of Manchester: Chartist poster

weblinks

Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester

Virtual Manchester

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Manchester
Brewer's Britain and Ireland

A reduced form of an OCelt name (possibly mamm ‘breast’) + OE ceaster ‘Roman fort’ ( see CHESTER ). A city and metropolitan district in ...

Full text Article Manchester
Reader's Guide to British History

Farnie D A. , The Manchester Ship Canal and the Rise of the Port of Manchester, 1894-1975 , Manchester : Manchester University...

Full text Article Manchester
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

1. 53 30N 2 15W A city in NW England, in Manchester unitary authority, Greater Manchester, situated on the River Irwell and forming part...

See more from Credo