History of Manchester

Mother Earth Travel > United Kingdom > Manchester > History

The very earliest origins of Manchester can be traced back to the establishment of a Roman outpost called Mancunium in AD79, the remnants of which are still to be seen at Castlefield. While the fort was maintained and developed subsequently by the Saxons, it was not until 1301 and the grant of charter that the town ' in a modern sense ' began to develop.

Through the following centuries, Manchester developed a thriving textile industry, initially based on wool. Culturally too there were significant steps forward such as the establishment of Manchester Grammar School in 1515.

Undoubtedly the main factor that transformed the town into one of the countries leading industrial centres was cotton. From the 1720's onwards there was an enormous upsurge in both international trade and technological development, culminating with the invention of Hargreave's Spinning Jenny and Crompton's Mule during the latter decades of the century. Manchester was rapidly becoming a hub of the burgeoning industrial revolution.

The 19th century was a period of unparalleled growth and cultural endeavour. In 1821 the Manchester Guardian was first published, 1830 saw the world's first purpose built passenger railway ' the Liverpool to Manchester ' opened, in 1863 the Co-operative Wholesale Society was formed and in 1887 work on the Manchester Ship Canal began.

Into the last century, the textile industry was ultimately to decline but its legacy reverberated through the decades helping to form the bustling, vibrant city we know today. Many things that have been fundamental to the social history of this country were to occur in Manchester during this time. In 1903 Emmaline Pankurst created the Women's Social & Political Union, 1919 saw Rutherford first split the atom and in 1948 the world's first electronic stored programme computer was developed.

Of course, many other factors have had a bearing on the city. Sport is crucial and Manchester can boast arguably the biggest football team in the world in Manchester United FC. Our music is also hugely influential, from the world famous Halle Orchestra ' formed in 1857 - to Factory Records who captured the zeitgeist of a generation with Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.

The final years of the 20th century have also had an enormous impact on contemporary Manchester. 1996 saw a huge IRA bomb devastate much of the city centre and the subsequent financial aid and support has helped to remould it as a confident, modern, cultural centre. Many prestigious developments such as the Bridgewater Hall, Exchange Square and the re-development of Salford Quays and the Castlefield Basin have created a worthy new environment.

Now as we enter the new millennium, the focus is on the 2002 Commonwealth Games and as further investment and development continues apace, Manchester can look forward to the future with pride and great optimism.