Manchester is a major industrial city in the North West of England, in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester, and formerly a part of Lancashire. Greater Manchester is the UK's third largest metropolitan area. This, combined with its cultural importance, means it is generally considered to be the UKs 'third city'. More recently it has even laid claim to be the UKs 'second city', a source of ongoing debate, particularly between Manchester and Birmingham. It was formerly an important inland port, served by the Manchester Ship Canal beside the River Mersey.
Originally a Roman military settlement named Mamcumium, and later of a tenth century burh (Anglo-Saxon fortified place), Manchester was of only regional importance until the Industrial Revolution, when it became a major centre of the cotton industry and renowned as a "shock city", a place where new urban and social developments were undertaken. Manchester and its environs saw the first large-scale application of factory technology and organisation; Manchester was the first city to experience full-scale suburbanisation; it was (with Liverpool) the first city to have a fully locomotive-hauled public railway, in 1830. It also experienced in full measure the negative aspects of this headlong rush to modernise and urbanise in its terrible slums, described in a dramatic piece of reportage by Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1844–45; first published in English 1892). In recent years the city centre has seen large scale renovation, including that of a quarter damaged by an IRA terrorist bomb in 1996. The city is home to the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University.
The city was the home of the free trade, anti corn law movement, led by Cobden and Bright, and recalled in the Free Trade Hall. This movement sought to abolish government interference in the free market of goods (the 'Corn laws', which restricted grain imports to Britain, impeding industrialisation and the economic welfare of the population, in favour of the interests of a feudal landed clique of aristocrats), and can be seen as pioneering free market economics.
Manchester is world-renowned not only for its position as one of the most important cities during the industrial revolution, but also for the scientific progress made during the 20th century. Below are some of the most notable scientists:
- Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) - First to successfully split the atom. Nobel Prize winner.
- John Dalton (1766-1844) - Quaker who pioneered atomic theory.
- Alan Turing (1912-1954) - Father of modern computer science and Cryptanalysis.
- James Prescott Joule (1818-1889) - Converting work into heat.
Manchester has a number of major museums and is also home to the John Rylands Library, now part of the University of Manchester, which has in its collection the earliest fragment of the New Testament known to exist. It is the home of the Halle Orchestra, which is based in the city's Bridgewater Hall, and it was formerly the headquarters of the ultra-liberal daily newspaper The Guardian, known as The Manchester Guardian until it moved to London.
A number of significant bands have come from Manchester, including:
- The Hollies
- Freddie and the Dreamers
- The Buzzcocks
- The Fall (band)
- Joy Division
- The Smiths
- The Happy Mondays
- The Stone Roses
- The Chemical Brothers
- Mr Scruff
- The Doves
- 808 State
Manchester was also the location for the successful TV series Life on Mars.
- In 2002 Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games.
- It is the home of two major football teams, Manchester United and Manchester City.
- Lancashire County Cricket Club play many of their matches at Old Trafford, which has also been the venue of many test matches.