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This article is about the city in England. For alternative meanings, see Manchester (disambiguation).

Manchester is a city in North West England. Manchester has recently come to be regarded by some as England's second city (after London). Immediately after Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002, a nationwide opinion poll commissioned by Marketing Manchester and conducted by pollsters MORI [1] found that out of just over 1000 people 34% of respondents thought that England's second city was Manchester; 29% thought it was Birmingham. In 2002 the central district had a population of 422,302. This district is the heart of a large conurbation called the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester, which has a population of 2,513,468. People from Manchester are called Mancunians.

In the same way as "London" is used to refer to the entire metropolitan area of Greater London, the term "Manchester" is often used to refer to the Greater Manchester conurbation, rather than the City of Manchester which is a metropolitan borough. The constituent parts of Greater Manchester vary in how separately they identify themselves from Manchester. Salford, for instance, is a city in its own right with a distinct identity despite directly adjoining the urban centre of Manchester.

 is an example of the found in Manchester and is the home of Manchester City Council
Manchester Town Hall is an example of the Victorian architecture found in Manchester and is the home of Manchester City Council


Main article History of Manchester

The Manchester area was settled in Roman times: general Agricola called a fort he set up there Mamucium, meaning "breast shaped hill". A facsimile of a Roman fort exists in Castlefield.

City of Manchester
Status: Metropolitan borough, City (1853)
Region: North West England
Ceremonial County: Greater Manchester
- Total
Ranked 228th
115.65 km²
Admin. HQ: Manchester
ONS code: 00BN
Geographical coordinates:
- City (2002 est)
- Total (2002 est)
- Density
Ranked 6th
3,652 / km²
Ethnicity: 81.0% White
9.1% S.Asian
4.5% Afro-Carib.
1.3% Chinese

Manchester City Council
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Labour
MPs: Keith Bradley, Paul Goggins, Gerald Kaufman, Tony Lloyd, Graham Stringer

In the 14th Century Manchester became home to a community of Flemish weavers, who settled in the town to produce wool and linen, thus beginning the tradition of cloth manufacture.

Manchester remained a small market town until the Industrial Revolution beginning in the 18th century. Its damp climate made it and the surrounding area ideal for cotton processing, and, with the development of steam powered engines for spinning and weaving, the cotton industry quickly developed throughout the region (eg Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire). Manchester quickly grew into the most important industrial centre in the world. Its population exploded as people moved away from the surrounding countryside and into the city seeking new opportunities. Its growth was also aided by its proximity to Liverpool's ports and the emerging canal and rail networks. Manchester became the world's first industrial city, and the model for industrial development throughout the western world.

At 11.20 am on Saturday 15 June 1996, the IRA detonated a large bomb in the city centre.

In 2002, the city hosted the XVII Commonwealth Games very successfully, earning praise from many previously sceptical sources. The city had twice failed in its bid to host the Olympic Games, losing to Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000.

In the 1990s, Manchester earned a reputation for gang-related crime, particularly after a spate of shootings involving young men, and reports of teenagers carrying handguns as "fashion accessories". Gun-crime is still a problem in Manchester (some have cynically referred to the city as "Gunchester") but a number of initiatives are in place by the Greater Manchester Police to help reduce the number of youths getting involved with gangs and their associated crimes. As a result, gun crime in the area is falling and other cities have overtaken it. The district of Moss Side gained a particular reputation for gang violence, although substantial community and police initiatives have helped rejuvenate the area.


Art galleries

There are many art galleries in Manchester, notably:


Museums in Manchester include:

Classical music

Manchester is home to two symphony orchestras, the HallÚ Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. There is also a chamber orchestra, the Manchester Camerata .

For many years the city's main classical venue was the Free Trade Hall on Peter Street. Since 1996, however, Manchester has had a modern 2,500 seat concert venue called the Bridgewater Hall, which is also home to the HallÚ Orchestra. The hall is one of the country's most technically advanced classical music and lecture venues, with an acoustically designed interior and suspended foundations for an optimum sound. Other venues for classical concerts include the RNCM, the Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester Cathedral.

Manchester is a centre for musical education, being home to the Royal Northern College of Music and Chetham's School of Music.

In the 1950s the city was home to the so-called "Manchester School" of classical composers, which comprised Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and Alexander Goehr.

Popular music

For Mancunians, the popular musical heritage of the city has always been a source of great pride. The city's eclectic mix of music has created the sense among its inhabitants that Manchester is the most important city in world music.

Although Manchester had an impressive music scene before 1976 (with groups like The Hollies, The Bee Gees and 10cc, and with Top of the Pops being recorded by the BBC in the city), undoubtedly the key moment in Manchester’s musical history occurred on June 4th 1976, when the Sex Pistols, at the invitation of Howard Devoto & Pete Shelley (of the Buzzcocks), arrived at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Castlefield to play a legendary gig - legendary, because in spite of an audience of less than 42 people, several key members of Manchester’s future music scene were present: Tony Wilson Granada TV presenter and creator of Factory Records, Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner (of Joy Division & New Order), Morrissey - later to form The Smiths with Johnny Marr - producer Martin Hannett, and Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. Soon after this gig, Tony Wilson created Factory Records and signed Joy Division.

With the industrial revolution as its model, Factory Records played upon Manchester's traditions, invoking at once the apparently incongruous images of the industrial north and the glamorous pop art world of Andy Warhol. It was Factory's Joy Division who somehow managed to grimly define what exactly it was to be a Mancunian as the '70s drew to an end. At the same time, and out of the same post punk energy, emerged Mark.E.Smith’s ground breaking group The Fall, who would become one of the most inventive, original and prolific groups of the next three decades. The group that would ultimately become the definitive Manchester group of the '80s was The Smiths, lead by Morrissey and Johnny Marr. With songs like 'Rusholme Ruffians' and 'Suffer Little Children', Morrissey sang explicitly about Manchester, creating images that are as iconic of Manchester as the paintings of L.S.Lowry.

As the 80’s drew to a close, a new energy arrived in Manchester, fuelled by the drug ecstasy. A new scene developed around The Hašienda night club (again part of the Factory Records ‘empire’), creating what would become known as the Madchester scene, – the main proponents being the Happy Mondays, The Inspiral Carpets, and The Stone Roses. The history of the Manchester music scene over this period was dramatised in Michael Winterbottom's 2002 film 24 Hour Party People.

After the "Madchester" period, Manchester music lost much of its provincial energy, though many successful and interesting acts were still to emerge. Other notable musical acts in Manchester have been Take That, 808 State, M People, Oasis, James, Badly Drawn Boy, Michael McGoldrick, Elbow, Mr Scruff, and Doves. Morrissey and The Fall still continue to produce original ground breaking music.

Manchester's main popular music venue is the Manchester Evening News Arena, which seats over twenty thousand, and is the largest arena of its type in Europe. Other venues major include the Manchester Apollo and the Manchester Academy . The many smaller venues throughout the city, such as the Roadhouse and Night and Day Cafe, ensure that Manchester’s music scene is always vibrant and interesting.

Gay and Lesbian

Manchester has the UK's largest gay population outside of London, and is renowned for its gay village; centred around the Canal Street area the gay village is home to various gay shops, restaurants, numerous bars and clubs, and each August bank holiday hosts the Manchester Pride Festival (previously known as Mardi Gras and Gayfest). Manchester's gay culture was brought to mainstream attention in 1999 by the acclaimed and controversial Channel 4 drama series Queer as Folk, which portrayed life in the village. The year round gay and lesbian heritage trail exhibits Manchester's colourful and often dark gay history. Manchester's status as gay capital of the UK was affirmed in 2003 when it played host city to the annual Europride festival.


Famous writers to come from the Manchester area include Elizabeth Gaskell, and Anthony Burgess who wrote 'A Clockwork Orange', later adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick. W. G. Sebald lived in Manchester when he first came to England, and it features prominently in his novel The Emigrants. Jeff Noon, the author of Vurt, writes novels which take place in Manchester.

The Writer's Bureau also runs its offices from the city. Manchester is home to the Manchester Metropolitan University Writers School, one of the top creative writing schools in the country.


Manchester is noted for its excellent theatres, among them:

  • Contact Theatre, a theatre for young people with a bold contemporary design
  • The Green Room, a small fringe venue
  • The Library Theatre, a small producing theatre situated in the basement of the city's central library
  • The Lowry, a large touring venue in Salford
  • The Opera House , a commercial theatre promoting large scale touring shows which regularly plays host to touring West End shows
  • The Palace Theatre, another large scale commercial theatre
  • The Royal Exchange Theatre, a large producing theatre located in Manchester's former cotton exchange

The city is also home to two highly-regarded drama schools; The Manchester Metropolitan University School of Theatre and the Arden School of Theatre.


Manchester has a wide variety of buildings from Victorian architecture through to modern. Much of the architecture in the city harks back to its former days as a global centre for the cotton trade. Many warehouses have now been converted for other uses but the external appearance remains mostly unchanged so the city maintains much of its original character.

Structures of interest in Manchester include:

Public monuments


The BBC has its north west headquarters in New Broadcasting House on Manchester's Oxford Road, while Granada Television also have their original headquarters in the Castlefield area of the city. The city is the main television broadcasting centre outside London. The BBC will soon move its Sport, Radio Five Live, New Media, Children's television and other departments to the city.

The city's main newspaper is the Manchester Evening News and the city is home to local radio stations such as BBC GMR, Key 103, Piccadilly Magic 1152, 105.4 Century FM and 100.4 Smooth FM , as well as some smaller stations.

The Guardian newspaper was founded in Manchester in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian. Its head office is in Manchester, though many of its management functions were moved to London in 1964. It still shares a Manchester office on Deansgate with its sister publication, the Manchester Evening News.


Manchester is home to two Universities: The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. The former is the largest full-time non-collegiate university in Britain, and was created in autumn 2004 by the merger of the former Victoria University of Manchester with UMIST.

Together with nearby Salford University, and the Royal Northern College of Music, these give the area a student population in excess of 65,000. This is one of the biggest student populations in Europe.


Sport and especially football are an important part of Manchester culture. Two major football clubs, Manchester United and Manchester City, bear the city's name. Manchester United ground Old Trafford, is the largest club football ground in England , it is just outside the city centre, in the borough of Trafford. These football teams are just two examples: according to the Urbis centre Manchester has the highest concentration of football clubs per capita of anywhere in the world. Other football teams in Greater Manchester include Oldham Athletic, Stockport county, Bury F.C., Wigan Athletic, Rochdale F.C. and Bolton Wanderers.

The legacy of the Commonwealth Games includes many first class sporting facilities such as the Manchester velodrome, the City of Manchester Stadium, the National Squash Centre and the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

Old Trafford cricket ground, home of Lancashire County Cricket Club, hosts many first-class cricket matches including Test Matches.

Manchester is also represented in Rugby Union by Sale Sharks, who currently play their home games at Edgeley Park in Stockport, and in Rugby League by the Salford City Reds who are currently in the process of constructing a new state-of-the-art stadium.



Manchester International Airport is the third largest airport in the UK (after Heathrow and Gatwick). In 2003 it handled 20 million passengers and provided direct flights to over 180 destinations worldwide by over 90 airlines.


The main roads serving Manchester are the M56, M6, M60, M61, M62 and M66 motorways. This accounts for a large percentage of the UK's motorway network and is the best network provided for any city in the UK outside of London.

Manchester and the surrounding area has a good bus network with regular services in and out of the city connecting to all the satellite towns and villages. Maps of bus routes and a public transport journey planner for the local area of Greater Manchester can be found on the GMPTE website


The city has two major stations, Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly linking Manchester to the rest of the United Kingdom. There are also many smaller local stations, such as Manchester Oxford Road.


 A Metrolink Tram in Manchester city centre
A Metrolink Tram in Manchester city centre

Despite Manchester's size, it is not provided with an underground train system, such as the famous London Underground and similar systems in Glasgow and Newcastle. The reason for this is the geology of the city; Manchester is built on Clay which is not suitable for an underground system.

Instead, the city has a tram system called the Metrolink. Operated by Serco, Metrolink links the city centre to Altrincham, Eccles and Bury.

Plans to extend the Manchester Metrolink into the surrounding towns and boroughs that form Greater Manchester have recently been resurrected after being abandoned by the Government. GMPTE (the Passenger Transport Executive responsible for the Greater Manchester area) are leading the fight to ensure that the extensions are built, with significant support from the local councils and community.


The city has a large number of different bus companies. Most major routes are well provided for including Oxford Road/Wilmslow Road which is one of the busiest routes in Europe (which serves a large chunk of the student population from Fallowfield/Withington into the centre of town).


One legacy of the industrial revolution is an extensive network of canals: the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, Rochdale Canal, Manchester Ship Canal which provides access to the sea, Bridgewater Canal, Ashton Canal and the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Today, most of these canals are mainly used for recreation.


Manchester is the only city in the country to be able to boast two indoor shopping centres, each with over 280 stores. The first is the Arndale Centre in the middle of the city, the largest city-centre shopping centre in Europe. The second is the out-of-town Trafford Centre which boasts a massive food hall, multi-screen cinema and Namco games centre. Other shopping centres are provided, including The Triangle which caters for more upmarket tastes. The city also provides two Selfridges department stores, a Harvey Nichols store, the soon-to-open largest Next store in the UK and a large John Lewis department store. There is also a range of designer clothing stores including Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Louis Vuitton.


Manchester urban area

Towns that run directly into the Manchester urban area include Salford, Sale, Altrincham, Cheadle, Stockport, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Oldham, Bury, Rochdale, Stockport and Stretford. Places like Trafford and Salford can be considered part of the Manchester urban area in a way that Wigan or Bolton are not.

Borough of Manchester

Places in the borough of Manchester include:

Streets and plazas in Manchester

See also


  • Manchester architecture
    • Manchester. Clare Hartwell. Pevsner Architectural Guides ISBN 0300096666
    • Manchester: A guide to recent architecture. David Hands and Sarah Parker. Ellipsis. ISBN 1899858776
    • Manchester - an Architectural History John Parkinson Bailey. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719056063
  • General
  • Manchester culture
    • Morrissey's Manchester: The Essential Smiths Tour Phil Gatenby ISBN 1901746283
    • Manchester, England. The story of the pop cult city. Dave Haslam ISBN 1841151467
    • And God Created Manchester. Sarah Champion. Wordsmith. ISBN 1873205015
    • The Hacienda Must be Built. Edited by Jon Savage. International Music Publications ISBN 0863598579

External links

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