There are many notable things about Manchester, from its industrial past to musical present. The city in the northwest of England isn’t the biggest in the country, or the most populous. However, it has a lot to offer, and it’s home to proud people who love being from Manchester. Manchester is famous for a lot of things and a lot of people, from key figures in the fight for women’s rights to Alan Turing and Oasis. Anyone who wants to visit some of England’s key cities shouldn’t miss out on Manchester and the rest of the north. It’s just over two hours away from London by rail, so it’s easy to visit for a day trip. But once you arrive, you could very well be tempted to stay for longer by the things that the city is known for.
1) Cottonopolis and the Textile Industry
In the 19th century, Manchester was nicknamed Cottonopolis due to the role that it played in the cotton and textile industry. Early cotton mills were built in Lancashire, and neighbouring counties and the world’s first steam-driven textile mill was opened in Manchester in 1781. By 1871, Manchester and other nearby towns were responsible for 32% of global cotton production. Of course, this also means that Manchester had links to the slavery and the slave trade, as the cotton was coming from plantations worked by slaves in North America. However, the workers of Lancashire opposed slavery, supporting Abraham Lincoln’s desire for abolition in the US.
Although the cotton industry declined, Manchester’s hard-working ethic remained. Today, you can see worker bee motifs around the city, which symbolise the city being a hive of activity.
2) Socialism and Civil Rights
Workers supporting the abolition of slavery wasn’t the only instance when people of Manchester fought for their rights and the rights of others. Manchester also has strong connections to socialism and has been home to some key figures in the fight for civil rights for many. Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Suffragette movement and founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, was born in Moss Side in Manchester. Manchester has had a strong LGBT community for a long time, particularly centering around the city’s Canal Street area. It’s also the birthplace of the left-of-centre newspaper, The Guardian.
Manchester is also where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels met in 1842, and would then go on to write The Communist Manifesto.
Most people can’t think of Manchester without thinking of football. Manchester United is possibly the most famous football team in the world, and Manchester City is another prominent club. The first regular competitive competition was formed in Manchester, first played on a league standings basis in 1888. So it’s no surprise that the city still has such a strong connection to football today.
Manchester United was the first superclub in the 1990s, and today it’s more than just a football club. It’s also a globally-recognised brand. The football stadiums of Old Trafford and the Etihad are easily reachable from the city centre by tram or bus. When there isn’t a game on, they can be toured. The National Football Museum can also be found in the city centre.
Manchester is also well-known for its music scene and the bands and musicians that have come out of the city. One of the most famous bands from Manchester is undoubtedly Oasis, but there are acts both older and more recent that are notable too. Manchester also produced The Hollies, Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and, more recently, The 1975.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Manchester had a popular Northern Soul scene, while punk was popular in the 1970s. At the end of the 1980s and into the ’90s, the music and cultural scene in Manchester was known as Madchester and was associated with the rave/indie-dance scene.
5) Railways and Canals
Transport nerds will enjoy Manchester for its canals and railways. The first canal to open in the city was the Bridgewater Canal in 1761. It revolutionised industry by making it easier to transport goods across long distances. Later, the railway did the same but on an even larger scale. The first Manchester railway line opened in 1830. In 1844, Manchester Victoria station opened, and it is still operating today, making it one of the oldest continually operating stations in the world.
Manchester has a diverse range of things that make it interesting, from its history to its music scene and unique identity.
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