Third biggest city in the UK, Manchester has a rich industrial heritage. It’s the birthplace of the industrial revolution and as such Manchester has changed the world in many ways: music, science, industry…
Here are 23 facts about Manchester that will blow your mind. Whether you are visiting, a born and raised Mancunian or just a culture lover, you will be surprised by some of these extremely interesting facts about Manchester.
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1 – Manchester was named after … boobs!
Manchester was established by the Romans in AD 79. They positioned a fort near a crossing point on the River Medlock, in between two hills that according to them looked like boobs. The name “Mamucium”, meaning “Breast shaped hills” was then given. Later on, the Normans arrived and established a new settlement. All Norman settlements in the UK were named using the word Chester (in fact, it is safe to assume that every town in the UK that has chester in its name has been a Norman settlement at some point). They kept the original name as a base and added their norman Chester at the end. The city became Manchester.
2 – The Curry Mile is the largest concentration of south-asian restaurants outside of Asia.
Located on Wilmslow road, Rusholme, the Curry Mile is actually about half a mile long. You will find all kinds of Asian restaurants there. Definitely somewhere to go if you want to grab a nice cheap meal.
3 – Salford is the British birthplace of the vegetarian diet.
The vegetarian movement was founded in Greater Manchester in 1847. The Beefsteak Chapel in Salford was the first vegetarian church in the UK and the first long-term modern organisation to not eat meat.
4 – Manchester is where the atom was split for the first time
Ernest Rutherford was teaching at Manchester University. Born in New-Zealand, he took a position as Chair of Physics in 1907 at the University, won a nobel prize for Chemistry in 1908 and first split the atom in 1919. This major breakthrough has changed the world in many ways as it enabled the development of nuclear power and cancer-fighting radiotherapy.
5 – The first free library in the UK opened to the public in Manchester in 1953.
Still open, the Chetham’s library is the oldest public library in the English speaking world. It has been in continuous use since 1653 and holds 100,00 books including 60,000 published before 1851.
6 – The Midland hotel is where Rolls-Royce was founded!
Rolls (car salesman) and Royce (engineer) met at the Midland Hotel in central Manchester in 1904. That’s where they decided to found their automotive company known as Rolls-Royce. They launched their first car, the Silver Ghost, in 1907.
7 – The first electronic stored-program computer, Baby, was designed and built at the University of Manchester in 1948.
Baby weighs about 500kg and is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry.
8 – Manchester started the Industrial Revolution
This is probably the most famous fact about Manchester: it’s where the Industrial Revolution all started! The opening of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Thanks to the invention of the steam power and the growing demand for manufactured cotton, Manchester became the main stopping point for the textile industry.
9 – Manchester was nicknamed “Cottonopolis” in 19th century.
During the industrial revolution, Manchester grew at an astonishing pace. With the arrival of the world’s first steam-driven textile mill and mechanisation, many cotton mills started to open around the city to peak at a number of 108 in 1853. Due to its ideal location, the railway between Manchester and Liverpool (harbour where the cotton was delivered) and innovative inventions, the city becomes the place where 80% of the world’s cotton would be manufactured. Cotton exchange, warehouses, textile transformation… everything that had to do with cotton was happening in Manchester. That’s why it was nicknamed “Cottonopolis”.
10 – Australians still call the textile department, Manchester department.
If you go to Australia and are looking for any kind of textile like bed sheets or similar items, you will be sent to the “Manchester department” of the store. This is due to the fact that the textile would arrive in Australia by ship and the containers and boxes all had “Manchester” written on them. Therefore, the manufactured cotton has been assimilated to the name Manchester.
11 – The University of Manchester boasts 25 Nobel prizes
Third best university in the country, after Oxford and Cambridge, the University of Manchester can lay claim to 25 Nobel laureates amongst their staff and students. This includes Joseph John Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, Arthur Harden, James Chadwick and many more…
12 – The world’s first passenger railway was opened between Liverpool and Manchester in 1830.
Opened in 1830, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the first railway specifically built to transport passengers and to rely exclusively on steam power. The terminus was on Liverpool Road in Manchester, which is now part of the Museum of Science and Industry.
13 – Manchester is home to the Kellogg’s factory.
Created in 1938, this factory has been making all your favourite cereals such as Coco Pops, Corn Flakes and many others. Even though Kelloggs is an american company headquartered in Michigan, the factory in Trafford is the largest Kellogg’s factory as well as the European headquarters.
14 – The bands Oasis, the Smiths and Stone Roses are from Manchester
Music is a very important part of the Mancunian culture. Manchester is home to some of the biggest bands the world has ever had. Amongst them you can find Oasis, The Smiths, The Chemical Brothers and many more.
15 – The Suffragette movement was started in Manchester
Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903, in Manchester. Named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century, Emmeline Pankhurst was a political activist who organised the movement that helped women get the right to vote in the UK.
16 – Manchester is home to Coronation Street; the world’s longest running TV soap opera.
Coronation Street is a classic for every british family. They all watched it at some point, even if he only one episode. It’s been running since 1960. The set is located at the ITV Trafford Wharf Studios in Mediacity.
17 – Manchester is the birthplace of the world’s first professional football league.
The Football league was created at the Royal Hotel, Piccadilly, in 1888.
18 – Manchester hosted the smaller biggest concert in history
On the 4th of June 1976, the Sex Pistols performed at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. This concert has become known as the gig that changed the world. Not because it was particularly big. As a matter of fact, only 42 people went to that show which is not even a third of the venue capacity. Tickets were sold for 50p.
But as it turns out, these 42 people all went on to change the face of the music scene all around the world. That small concert gathered an amazing concentration of people that only needed to see something like the Sex Pistols to open their wings and start flying on their own. Amongst the people that went to that gig that night, there were bands like The Smiths, Magazine, Joy Division, The Fall but also other big names in the music industry like Anthony Wilson (owner of the Hacienda).
19 – There was no statue of a woman except Queen Victoria in Manchester until 2019
Ironically enough, even though Manchester has always been the place where women could be free and were movements like the Suffragette started, we had to wait until 2019 to get a statue of a woman. This woman is very special and the city council placed her in a very special location as well. And so you will find the statue of Emmeline Pankurst, leader and founder of the Suffragette movement, in St Peter’s Square.
20- You can drink a pint in an old Victorian toilet
Located not far from St Peter’s Square, The Temple is a small underground pub that has been built in an old victorian toilet. At first sight, it looks like a metro entrance but as Manchester does not have an underground train system, you’ll notice quite quickly that this is not what it is.
21- John Ryland was Manchester first multi millionaire
John Ryland became the first Manchester multi-millionaire thanks to the textile industry. After his death, his widow opened in his honour the John Ryland library which became one of the most beautiful buildings in Manchester.
22 – Alan Turing, who decrypted Enigma, was from Manchester
Alan Turing is considered as the father of modern computing. Nowadays he is mainly known for having cracked the German code, Enigma, which, according to Churchill shortened WWII by 2 years. His work during the war has been highlighted by the movie Imitation game, where Alan is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Alan also taught at the University of Manchester and became a symbol for the LGBT community in the city. A statue of him with the Newton apple is located in Sackville Park by the Gay village.
23 – The New Union Pub is one of the oldest LGBT venues in the world
Manchester is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world and has been showing it for a long time. The New Union Pub was already putting on drag shows during WWII (which is 12 years before Alan Turing was prosecuted for being gay).
All these little facts about Manchester makes it the city it is today. There is so much more to know about this city and I hope you’ve enjoyed these fun facts about Manchester.