Manchester (/ˈmæntʃɪstər, -tʃɛs-/) is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. The city has the country’s fifth-largest population at 547,627 (as of 2018) and lies within the United Kingdom’s second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.7 million, third most-populous county, at around 2.8 million, and third-most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority for the city is Manchester City Council.
The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium, which was established in about AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. Although historically and traditionally a part of Lancashire, areas of Cheshire south of the River Mersey were incorporated into Manchester in the 20th century. The first to be included, Wythenshawe, was added to the city in 1931. Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township, but began to expand “at an astonishing rate” around the turn of the 19th century. Manchester’s unplanned urbanization was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in it becoming the world’s first industrialized city. Manchester achieved city status in 1853. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, creating the Port of Manchester and directly linking the city to the Irish Sea, 36 miles (58 km) to the west. Its fortune declined after the Second World War, the IRA bombing in 1996 led to extensive investment and regeneration. Following successful redevelopment after the IRA bombing, Manchester was the host city for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
The city is notable for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections. Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world’s first inter-city passenger railway station. At the University of Manchester, Ernest Rutherford first split the atom in 1917, Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill developed the world’s first stored-program computer in 1948, and Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov isolated the first graphene in 2004.
During the English Civil War Manchester strongly favored the Parliamentary interest. Although not long-lasting, Cromwell granted it the right to elect its own MP. Charles Worsley, who sat for the city for only a year, was later appointed Major General for Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire during the Rule of the Major Generals. He was a diligent puritan, turning out ale houses and banning the celebration of Christmas; he died in 1656.
Significant quantities of cotton began to be used after about 1600, firstly in linen/cotton fustians, but by around 1750 pure cotton fabrics were being produced and cotton had overtaken wool in importance. The Irwell and Mersey were made navigable by 1736, opening a route from Manchester to the sea docks on the Mersey. The Bridgewater Canal, Britain’s first wholly artificial waterway, was opened in 1761, bringing coal from mines at Worsley to central Manchester. The canal was extended to the Mersey at Runcorn by 1776. The combination of competition and improved efficiency halved the cost of coal and halved the transport cost of raw cotton. Manchester became the dominant marketplace for textiles produced in the surrounding towns. A commodities exchange, opened in 1729, and numerous large warehouses, aided commerce. In 1780, Richard Arkwright began construction of Manchester’s first cotton mill. In the early 1800s, John Dalton formulated his atomic theory in Manchester.
Manchester was one of the centers of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. The great majority of cotton spinning took place in the towns of south Lancashire and north Cheshire, and Manchester was for a time the most productive centre of cotton processing. Manchester became known as the world's largest marketplace for cotton goods and was dubbed "Cottonopolis" and "Warehouse City" during the Victorian era. In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the term "Manchester" is still used for household linen: sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc. The industrial revolution brought about huge change in Manchester and was key to the increase in Manchester's population. Manchester began expanding "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century as people flocked to the city for work from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and other areas of England as part of a process of unplanned urbanization brought on by the Industrial Revolution. It developed a wide range of industries, so that by 1835 "Manchester was without challenge the first and greatest industrial city in the world." Engineering firms initially made machines for the cotton trade, but diversified into general manufacture. The Manchester Ship Canal was built between 1888 and 1894, in some sections by canalization of the Rivers Irwell and Mersey, running 36 miles (58 km) from Salford to Eastham Locks on the tidal Mersey. This enabled oceangoing ships to sail right into the Port of Manchester. On the canal's banks, just outside the borough, the world's first industrial estate was created at Trafford Park. Large quantities of machinery, including cotton processing plant, were exported around the world. A centre of capitalism, Manchester was once the scene of bread and labour riots, as well as calls for greater political recognition by the city's working and non-titled classes. One such gathering ended with the Peterloo massacre of 16 August 1819. The economic school of Manchester Capitalism developed there, and Manchester was the centre of the Anti-Corn Law League from 1838 onward. Manchester has a notable place in the history of Marxism and left-wing politics; being the subject of Friedrich Engels' work The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844; Engels spent much of his life in and around Manchester, and when Karl Marx visited Manchester, they met at Chatham’s Library. The economics books Marx was reading at the time can be seen in the library, as can the window seat where Marx and Engels would meet. The first Trades Union Congress was held in Manchester (at the Mechanics' Institute, David Street), from 2 to 6 June 1868. Manchester was an important cradle of the Labour Party and the Suffragette Movement. At that time, it seemed a place in which anything could happen—new industrial processes, new ways of thinking (the Manchester School, promoting free trade and laissez-faire), new classes or groups in society, new religious sects, and new forms of labour organization. It attracted educated visitors from all parts of Britain and Europe. A saying capturing this sense of innovation survives today: "What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow." Manchester's golden age was perhaps the last quarter of the 19th century. Many of the great public buildings (including Manchester Town Hall) date from then. The city's cosmopolitan atmosphere contributed to a vibrant culture, which included the Hallé Orchestra
Spurred by the investment after the 1996 bomb and aided by the XVII Commonwealth Games, the city centre has undergone extensive regeneration. New and renovated complexes such as The Printworks and Corn Exchange have become popular shopping, eating and entertainment areas. Manchester Arndale is the UK's largest city-centre shopping centre. Large city sections from the 1960s have been demolished, re-developed or modernized with the use of glass and steel. Old mills have been converted into apartments. Hulme has undergone extensive regeneration, with million-pound loft-house apartments being developed. The 47-storey, 554-foot (169 m) Beetham Tower was the tallest UK building outside London and the highest residential accommodation in Europe when completed in 2006. It was surpassed in 2018 by the 659-foot (201 m) South Tower of the Deansgate Square project, also in Manchester. In January 2007, the independent Casino Advisory Panel licensed Manchester to build the UK's only super casino, but plans were abandoned in February 2008.
The Office for National Statistics does not produce economic data for the City of Manchester alone, but includes four other metropolitan boroughs, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, in an area named Greater Manchester South, which had a GVA of £34.8 billion. The economy grew relatively strongly between 2002 and 2012, when growth was 2.3 per cent above the national average. The wider metropolitan economy is the second largest in the United Kingdom. It is ranked as a beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
As the UK economy continues to recover from its 2008–2010 downturn, Manchester compares favorably according to recent figures. In 2012 it showed the strongest annual growth in business stock (5 per cent) of all core cities. The city had a relatively sharp increase in the number of business deaths, the largest increase in all the core cities, but this was offset by strong growth in new businesses, resulting in strong net growth.
Manchester’s civic leadership has a reputation for business acumen. It owns two of the country’s four busiest airports and uses its earnings to fund local projects. Meanwhile, KPMG‘s competitive alternative report found that in 2012 Manchester had the 9th lowest tax cost of any industrialized city in the world, and fiscal devolution has come earlier to Manchester than to any other British city: it can keep half the extra taxes it gets from transport investment.
KPMG’s competitive alternative report also found that Manchester was Europe’s most affordable city featured, ranking slightly better than the Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, which all have a cost-of-living index of less than 95.
Manchester is a city of contrast, where some of the country’s most deprived and most affluent neighborhoods can be found. According to 2010 Indices of Multiple Deprivation, Manchester is the 4th most deprived local council in England. Unemployment throughout 2012–2013 averaged 11.9 per cent, which was above national average, but lower than some of the country’s comparable large cities. On the other hand, Greater Manchester is home to more multi-millionaires than anywhere outside London, with the City of Manchester taking up most of the tally. In 2013 Manchester was ranked 6th in the UK for quality of life, according to a rating of the UK’s 12 largest cities.
Women fare better in Manchester than the rest of the country in comparative pay with men. The per hours-worked gender pay gap is 3.3 per cent compared with 11.1 per cent for Britain. 37 per cent of the working-age population in Manchester have degree-level qualifications, as opposed to an average of 33 per cent across other core cities, although its schools under-perform slightly compared with the national average.
Manchester has the largest UK office market outside London, according to GVA Grimley, with a quarterly office uptake (averaged over 2010–2014) of some 250,000 square ft – equivalent to the quarterly office uptake of Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle combined and 90,000 square feet more than the nearest rival, Birmingham. The strong office market in Manchester has been partly attributed to “northshoring”, (from offshoring) which entails the relocation or alternative creation of jobs away from the overheated South to areas where office space is possibly cheaper and the workforce market less saturated.
According to 2019 property investment research, Manchester is rated as No. 2 location for “Best Places to Invest in Property in the UK”. This was attributed to a 5.6 per cent increase in house prices and local investment in infrastructure and in Manchester Airport.
There are three universities in the City of Manchester. The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Royal Northern College of Music. The University of Manchester is the largest full-time non-collegiate university in the United Kingdom, created in 2004 by the merger of Victoria University of Manchester, founded in 1904, and UMIST, founded in 1956 having developed from the Mechanics’ Institute founded, as indicated in the university’s logo, in 1824. The University of Manchester includes the Manchester Business School, which offered the first MBA course in the UK in 1965.
Manchester Metropolitan University was formed as Manchester Polytechnic on the merger of three colleges in 1970. It gained university status in 1992, and in the same year absorbed Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education in South Cheshire. The University of Law, the largest provider of vocation legal training in Europe, has a campus in the city.
The three universities are grouped around Oxford Road on the southern side of the city centre, which forms Europe’s largest urban higher-education precinct. Together they have a combined population of 76,025 students in higher education as of 2015, although almost 6,000 of them were based at Manchester Metropolitan University’s campuses at Crewe and Alsager in Cheshire.
One of Manchester’s notable secondary schools is Manchester Grammar School. Established in 1515, as a free grammar school next to what is now the cathedral, it moved in 1931 to Old Hall Lane in Fallowfield, south Manchester, to accommodate the growing student body. In the post-war period, it was a direct grant grammar school (i.e. partially state funded), but it reverted to independent status in 1976 after abolition of the direct-grant system. Its previous premises are now used by Chatham’s School of Music. There are three schools nearby: William Hulme’s Grammar School, Withington Girls’ School and Manchester High School for Girls.
In 2010, the Manchester Local Education Authority was ranked last out of Greater Manchester’s ten LEAs and 147th out of 150 in the country LEAs based on the percentage of pupils attaining at least five A*–C grades at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) including maths and English (38.6 per cent compared with the national average of 50.7 per cent). The LEA also had the highest occurrence of absences: 11.11 per cent of “half-day sessions missed by pupils”, well above the national average of 5.8 per cent. Of the schools in the LEA with 30 or more pupils, four had 90 per cent or more pupils achieving at least five A*–C grades at GCSE including maths and English: Manchester High School for Girls, St Bede’s College, Manchester Islamic High School for Girls, and The King David High School. Three managed 25 per cent or less: Plant Hill Arts College, North Manchester High School for Boys, Brookway High School and Sports College.