Manchester is a city in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 514,417 in 2013. In the United Kingdom's second most populous urban area, which has a population of 2.55 million, Manchester is in the south-central part of North West England, fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.
The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium, a variant of which name is preserved by the city's demonym: residents are still referred to as Mancunians. The Roman fort was established around 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. Historically part of Lancashire, although areas of Cheshire, south of the River Mersey were incorporated into the city during the 20th century. Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township but began to expand "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century. Manchester's unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in it becoming the world's first industrialised city. The building of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761 built to transport coal triggered an early 19th century factory building boom which transformed Manchester from a township into a major mill town and borough that culminated in city status in 1853 - thus becoming the first new British city in over 300 years. In 1877, Manchester Town Hall was built and in 1894 the Manchester Ship Canal, at the time the longest river navigation canal in the world, opened, creating the Port of Manchester and linking the city to sea. Manchester's fortunes decreased after the Second World War due to deindustrialisation. However, investment spurred by the 1996 Manchester bombing led to extensive regeneration, particularly in the city centre.
The city is notable for its architecture, culture, music scene, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections. Known through time as a hotbed for radical ideas, Manchester was the site of the world's first railway station and is where scientists first split the atom, and developed the first stored-program computer. Manchester is also regarded as the birthplace of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, and both capitalism and communism. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels began to write the Communist Manifesto at Chetham Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.
Today Manchester is ranked as a beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Its metropolitan economy is the third largest in the United Kingdom with an estimated PPP GDP of US$88.3 billion as of 2012. Manchester is the third-most visited city in the UK by foreign visitors, after London and Edinburgh.
The Brigantes were the major Celtic tribe in what is now Northern England; they had a stronghold in the locality at a sandstone outcrop on which Manchester Cathedral now stands, opposite the banks of the River Irwell. Their territory extended across the fertile lowland of what is now Salford and Stretford. Following the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century, General Agricola ordered the construction of a fort named Mamucium in the year 79 to ensure that Roman interests in Deva Victrix (Chester) and Eboracum (York) were protected from the Brigantes. Central Manchester has been permanently settled since this time. A stabilised fragment of foundations of the final version of the Roman fort is visible in Castlefield. The Roman habitation of Manchester probably ended around the 3rd century; its civilian settlement appears to have been abandoned by the mid-3rd century, although the fort may have supported a small garrison until the late 3rd or early 4th century. After the Roman withdrawal and Saxon conquest, the focus of settlement shifted to the confluence of the Irwell and Irk sometime before the arrival of the Normans after 1066. Much of the wider area was laid waste in the subsequent Harrying of the North.
Manchester is mentioned as having a market in 1282. Around the 14th century, Manchester received an influx of Flemish weavers, sometimes credited as the foundation of the region's textile industry. Manchester became an important centre for the manufacture and trade of woollens and linen, and by about 1540, had expanded to become, in John Leland's words, "The fairest, best builded, quickest, and most populous town of all Lancashire." The cathedral and Chetham's buildings are the only significant survivors of Leland's Manchester.
Significant quantities of cotton began to be used after about 1600, firstly in linen/cotton fustians, but by around 1750 pure cotton fabrics were being produced and cotton had overtaken wool in importance. The Irwell and Mersey were made navigable by 1736, opening a route from Manchester to the sea docks on the Mersey. The Bridgewater Canal, Britain's first wholly artificial waterway, was opened in 1761, bringing coal from mines at Worsley to central Manchester. The canal was extended to the Mersey at Runcorn by 1776. The combination of competition and improved efficiency halved the cost of coal and halved the transport cost of raw cotton. Manchester became the dominant marketplace for textiles produced in the surrounding towns. A commodities exchange, opened in 1729, and numerous large warehouses, aided commerce. In 1780, Richard Arkwright began construction of Manchester's first cotton mill. In the early 1800s, John Dalton formulated his atomic theory in Manchester.
Manchester's history is concerned with textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. The great majority of cotton spinning took place in the towns of south Lancashire and north Cheshire, and Manchester was for a time the most productive centre of cotton processing, and later the world's largest marketplace for cotton goods. Manchester was dubbed "Cottonopolis" and "Warehouse City" during the Victorian era. In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the term "manchester" is still used for household linen: sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc. The industrial revolution brought about huge change in Manchester and was key to the increase in Manchester's population.
Manchester began expanding "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century as people flocked to the city for work from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and other areas of England as part of a process of unplanned urbanisation brought on by the Industrial Revolution. It developed a wide range of industries, so that by 1835 "Manchester was without challenge the first and greatest industrial city in the world." Engineering firms initially made machines for the cotton trade, but diversified into general manufacture. Similarly, the chemical industry started by producing bleaches and dyes, but expanded into other areas. Commerce was supported by financial service industries such as banking and insurance. Trade, and feeding the growing population, required a large transport and distribution infrastructure: the canal system was extended, and Manchester became one end of the world's first intercity passenger railway—the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Competition between the various forms of transport kept costs down. In 1878 the GPO (the forerunner of British Telecom) provided its first telephones to a firm in Manchester.
The Manchester Ship Canal was built in 1894, in some sections by canalisation of the Rivers Irwell and Mersey, running from Salford to Eastham Locks on the tidal Mersey. This enabled oceangoing ships to sail right into the Port of Manchester. On the canal's banks, just outside the borough, the world's first industrial estate was created at Trafford Park. Large quantities of machinery, including cotton processing plant, were exported around the world.
A centre of capitalism, Manchester was once the scene of bread and labour riots, as well as calls for greater political recognition by the city's working and non-titled classes. One such gathering ended with the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August 1819. The economic school of Manchester capitalism developed there, and Manchester was the centre of the Anti-Corn Law League from 1838 onward.
At that time, it seemed a place in which anything could happen—new industrial processes, new ways of thinking (the Manchester School, promoting free trade and laissez-faire), new classes or groups in society, new religious sects, and new forms of labour organisation. It attracted educated visitors from all parts of Britain and Europe. A saying capturing this sense of innovation survives today: "What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow." Manchester's golden age was perhaps the last quarter of the 19th century. Many of the great public buildings (including Manchester Town Hall) date from then. The city's cosmopolitan atmosphere contributed to a vibrant culture, which included the Hallé Orchestra. In 1889, when county councils were created in England, the municipal borough became a county borough with even greater autonomy.
The number of cotton mills in Manchester itself reached a peak of 108 in 1853. Thereafter the number began to decline and Manchester was surpassed as the largest centre of cotton spinning by Bolton in the 1850s and Oldham in the 1860s. However, this period of decline coincided with the rise of city as the financial centre of the region. Manchester continued to process cotton, and in 1913, 65% of the world's cotton was processed in the area. The First World War interrupted access to the export markets. Cotton processing in other parts of the world increased, often on machines produced in Manchester. Manchester suffered greatly from the Great Depression and the underlying structural changes that began to supplant the old industries, including textile manufacture.
Like most of the UK, the Manchester area was mobilised extensively during the Second World War. For example, casting and machining expertise at Beyer, Peacock and Company's locomotive works in Gorton was switched to bomb making; Dunlop's rubber works in Chorlton-on-Medlock made barrage balloons; and just outside the city in Trafford Park, engineers Metropolitan-Vickers made Avro Manchester and Avro Lancaster bombers and Ford built the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines to power them. Manchester was thus the target of bombing by the Luftwaffe, and by late 1940 air raids were taking place against non-military targets. The biggest took place during the "Christmas Blitz" on the nights of 22/23 and 24 December 1940, when an estimated of high explosives plus over 37,000 incendiary bombs were dropped. A large part of the historic city centre was destroyed, including 165 warehouses, 200 business premises, and 150 offices. 376 were killed and 30,000 houses were damaged. Manchester Cathedral was among the buildings seriously damaged; its restoration took 20 years.
Post-Second World War
Cotton processing and trading continued to fall in peacetime, and the exchange closed in 1968. By 1963 the port of Manchester was the UK's third largest, and employed over 3,000 men, but the canal was unable to handle the increasingly large container ships. Traffic declined, and the port closed in 1982. Heavy industry suffered a downturn from the 1960s and was greatly reduced under the economic policies followed by Margaret Thatcher's government after 1979. Manchester lost 150,000 jobs in manufacturing between 1961 and 1983.
Manchester has a history of attacks attributed to Irish Republicans, including the Manchester Martyrs of 1867, arson in 1920, a series of explosions in 1939, and two bombs in 1992. On Saturday 15 June 1996, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out the 1996 Manchester bombing, the detonation of a large bomb next to a department store in the city centre. The largest to be detonated on British soil, the bomb injured over 200 people, heavily damaged nearby buildings, and broke windows away. The cost of the immediate damage was initially estimated at £50 million, but this was quickly revised upwards. The final insurance payout was over £400 million; many affected businesses never recovered from the loss of trade.
Spurred by the investment after the 1996 bomb, and aided by the XVII Commonwealth Games, Manchester's city centre has undergone extensive regeneration. New and renovated complexes such as The Printworks and The Triangle have become popular shopping and entertainment destinations. The Manchester Arndale is the UK's largest city centre shopping centre.
Since around the turn of the 21st century, Manchester has been regarded by sections of the international press, British public, and government ministers as being the second city of the United Kingdom. The BBC reports that redevelopment of recent years has heightened claims that Manchester is the second city of the UK. Manchester and Birmingham have traditionally been considered for this unofficial title.