Daily Express

Made in Manchester …why the original industrial city never stopped innovating

The story of England’s pioneering northern powerhouse doesn’t begin and end with factories, football and music. A definitive new book reveals its key role in everything from nuclear fusion and computing to radical politics and women’s suffrage

- By Brian Groom

WHAT comes to mind when you think of Manchester? Coronation Street perhaps, or the football stars of Manchester City and United. Maybe musicians like Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis or comedians such as Victoria Wood, Les Dawson, Caroline Aherne and Peter Kay.

Manchester certainly knows how to have a good time – “a city that thinks a table is for dancing on”, goes the saying.

Yet there is far more to its story than popular entertainm­ent. Manchester and its region were pioneers of the Industrial Revolution and its scientists and industrial­ists have played a massive part in fashioning the world we know today. Researcher­s at Manchester University, for example, produced a computer called the Small-Scale Experiment­al Machine, nicknamed Baby, in 1948 – the first time a program had been stored in a computer’s memory.

It heralded the arrival of modern computing. New Zealander Ernest Rutherford achieved the first ever artificial­ly induced nuclear reaction while at the University of Manchester from 1907-19, ushering in the nuclear age. A century before that, John Dalton, a weaver’s son from Cumberland who led a frugal bachelor life in Manchester, formulated an atomic theory to explain chemical reactions, on which much of modern chemistry and physics is based.

The world’s first intercity passenger railway, the Liverpool and Manchester, opened in 1830. Stockport-born engineer Joseph Whitworth created a standard system of screw threads for nuts and bolts that allowed components to become interchang­eable, enabling mass production. In the 20th century, designer Roy Chadwick created the legendary Lancaster bomber, helping Britain and its allies to win the SecondWorl­dWar.

And then there are scientists you may never have heard of such as Kathleen DrewBaker, a star botanist who made breakthrou­ghs in cultivatio­n of seaweed, used as food in Japan, for which grateful farmers commemorat­e her as “Mother of the Sea”.

Manchester was the “shock city” of the 1840s, said historian Asa Briggs. Visitors arrived from foreign lands, who saw in it a foretaste of the world’s future. But no one knew whether the upheaval would lead to prosperity or starvation. “From this filthy sewer pure gold flows,” wrote French social commentato­r Alexis de Tocquevill­e.

Manchester was a hotbed of politics. The notorious Peterloo Massacre of 1819, in which an estimated 18 died at a rally demanding voting rights for all adult men, was a spur towards democratic reform. The city was a centre for radical movements such as Chartism, yet also spawned the employerle­d Anti-Corn Law League, that made free trade Britain’s economic orthodoxy. Manchester became the centre of the global cotton industry and a pioneer in engineerin­g.

ROMAN soldiers who arrived at this rainy, sparsely populated spot to build a fort around 79 CE, trying to control northern Britannia’s tribes, might have been surprised to learn that many centuries later it would be at the centre of an Industrial Revolution regarded by many as the most transforma­tive period in human history. They called their fort Mamucium (or something similar). It was a cosmopolit­an place, prefigurin­g the influx of foreigners attracted by 19th-century Manchester and also today’s multinatio­nal city where more than 150 languages are spoken

By the Norman Conquest, Manchester was still a small village. Medieval Manchester grew around what is now the cathedral almost a mile north of the Roman fort. By Elizabetha­n times, it was a manufactur­ing and marketing centre for woollens and linens. In England’s 17th-century civil wars,

Manchester, a parliament­arian stronghold, was unsuccessf­ully besieged by royalists. Had it fallen, all of Lancashire might have come into royalist hands and the war might have taken a different course.

In 1745, Jacobite Bonnie Prince Charlie passed through Manchester after invading from Scotland to try to gain the throne for his father. He recruited fewer volunteers than he hoped and eventually turned tail at Derby.

The Industrial Revolution was spurred when Francis Egerton, Duke of Bridgewate­r, opened Britain’s first purpose-built industrial canal in 1761 between Manchester and his coal mines atWorsley.The Bridgewate­r Canal halved the price of coal in Manchester and sparked canal mania.

Preston-born Sir Richard Arkwright, pioneer of the factory system, gave Manchester its first cotton spinning mill in 1781. Crowds stared in awe as its tall chimney at Miller Street near Shudehill was built. By 1800 there were dozens of such chimneys and Manchester was becoming Cottonopol­is, the

centre of a global industry. Factors that aided Manchester included existing textile skills and commercial expertise.

It had rivers to provide water power and sources of coal for steam engines. It was also close to Liverpool, giving easy access to cheap, slave-grown cotton from the West Indies and America. Manchester was prominent in the anti-slavery campaign, but its merchants and manufactur­ers were making fortunes from cheap cotton.

Eventually most cotton production moved to surroundin­g towns such as Oldham, Bolton and Ashton, while Manchester became a commercial and distributi­on centre and developed engineerin­g expertise. Its population had increased sixfold in as many decades, creating unpreceden­ted opportunit­ies and dire social conditions.

Ultimately, the Industrial Revolution would allow living standards to rise, though it also created filthy slum terraces and cellars, ill health and pollution. Communist philosophe­r Friedrich Engels called Manchester’s slum districts “hell on earth”.

In the 19th century’s second half, railway expansion brought rapid population growth to the suburbs. Manchester Ship Canal, a 36-mile waterway between Manchester and Mersey estuary, was a massive project that arose after Manchester’s merchants complained about high charges levied by Liverpool’s docks.

Trade was slow at first, but it enabled Manchester and Salford to become Britain’s third-busiest port. Industry grew along its banks, notably at Trafford Park, where 75,000 were employed by its peak in 1945.

Emmeline Pankhurst, born in Moss Side, formed the Women’s Social and Political

Union in 1903 – nicknamed Suffragett­es – to campaign for votes for women. Initially peaceful, they began breaking windows and setting fire to pillar boxes.

THE cinema kept people entertaine­d during the difficult interwar years. There were few northern accents in films, whether American or British, but Gracie Fields, from Rochdale, and George Formby Junior, from Wigan, were exceptions. “Our Gracie” was a mill girl who landed a lucrative Hollywood deal, yet she insisted the four pictures be filmed in Britain.

In the SecondWorl­dWar, about 1,000 were killed in the Manchester area during the twonight Christmas Blitz of December 1940.

After the war, health minister Aneurin Bevan marked the National Health Service’s creation in 1948 by symbolical­ly receiving the keys at Park Hospital, Davyhulme (now Trafford General). Labour minister of education Ellen Wilkinson, born in Ardwick, raised the school-leaving age from 14 to 15 and oversaw the creation of grammar schools and secondary moderns.

Since the war Manchester has seen steep decline followed by rebirth. Its resurrecti­on was hampered by a disastrous 20-year experiment with modernist architectu­re, notably the notorious crescents in inner-city Hulme.

Manchester’s fertile pop music scene, including bands such as Joy Division, Oasis and the Stone Roses, played a big part in its recovery. The city centre was redesigned after the IRA bombed it in 1996.

In the 21st century, Manchester once again it finds itself a test for the future of urban living. Jobs, output and population have grown strongly so far this century and dozens of skyscraper­s have sprung up in the centre.

For some, the pace of change has been disconcert­ing.

It is a startling turnaround from industrial decline, yet debate rages about whether the embrace of private-sector property investment in “Manctopia” or “Manc-hattan” benefits ordinary citizens. Either way, Manchester is in the spotlight again.

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 ?? ?? SKYSCRAPER CITY: Not all are fans of the modern “Manc-hattan”
SKYSCRAPER CITY: Not all are fans of the modern “Manc-hattan”
 ?? ?? DESIGN: Aircraft designer Roy Chadwick at Manchester factory
DESIGN: Aircraft designer Roy Chadwick at Manchester factory
 ?? ?? ●Made in Manchester by Brian Groom (HarperColl­ins, £22) is published on Thursday. Visit expressboo­kshop.com or call Express Bookshop on 020 3176 3832. Free UK P&P on orders over £25
●Made in Manchester by Brian Groom (HarperColl­ins, £22) is published on Thursday. Visit expressboo­kshop.com or call Express Bookshop on 020 3176 3832. Free UK P&P on orders over £25
 ?? ?? CLASS WAR: Peterloo Massacre; chemist John Dalton, below
CLASS WAR: Peterloo Massacre; chemist John Dalton, below

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