A city evolved from a fort built by the
Romans during the First Century to aid their occupation of Britain.
The name derives from a woman's breast because the Roman name
was Mamucium. The familiar name for mother around there is "Mam".
Those affecting South England manners use "Mummy" suggesting,
A mile from the fort a village developed.
The Romans deserted the fort in the Fourth Century and it was
only re-established by the new occupiers, the Saxons, in the
Tenth Century to contain the Norsemen. Salford, a very short
distance away was initially of greater importance but eventually
dwarfed my Manchester. During the Middle Ages it became a market
town and an important centre for the wool trade and this connection
with textiles led to the establishment of the cotton textile
industry of the 18/19/20 TH. Century.
In the early 18 TH. Century Manchester had
10,000 population. But by the mid 19 TH. it had grown to over
300,000. Fifty years later it had spread to swallow surrounding
cotton towns like Rochdale, Ashton, Stockport, Oldham. Bury and
Bolton and was over 2,350,000.
This extraordinary growth made it the leading
industrial conurbation in the Western world and one could realistically
say that Manchester was the exemplification of The Industrial
Revolution of Britain, the first industrial nation which shaped
the modern world. It was the first of the great industrial cities
of the world. The name Manchester has become the generic name
for domestic textiles in Australia. Arguably, Manchester United
is the most famous sporting club in the world and Manchester
Grammar School the most successful secondary school in England.
Manchester University is the largest in Britain and contains
the largest medical school in Western Europe. It is second only
to London in publishing, air freight and airport.
The growth of cotton textiles was accompanied
by ancillary industries and new chemical, electrical, munition
and heavy engineering industries. Trafford park - close to Manchester
United FC and old Trafford County Cricket Club - became a massive
heavy industrial estate. Bridgwater canal floated barges of coal
from Worsley and Manchester was connected to the ocean- going
cargo ships by the cutting of the Manchester Ship Canal. The
worlds first commercial railway was built from Manchester to
Liverpool. Three large railway stations connected the metropolis
with Britain. Only London outdid Manchester in commerce. But
only Manchester had steam mad King Cotton.
The whole was powered by steam engines fired
by coal. The rudimentary steam pumps of the Western English mines
had been elaborated into pounding monsters in gleaming engine
rooms under the proud eye of the engineer with his oily cloth..
The floor thumped up through ones boots like some gigantic heartbeat
from the centre of the earth. Whistling drive ropes connected
the engine's huge, multi-grooved pulley wheel upwards to turn
a main-shaft on every floor of the factory. This shaft was connected
in turn to subsidiary shafts with belt wheels all across the
ceiling. The whizzing belts spun diagonally down to turn the
carding, spinning and weaving machines. It was hot and humid
and the workers learned to lip read through the din.
Years after retirement the old mill workers
still had exaggerated lip movements when speaking - and those
from the weaving sheds were partly deaf from the clatter of the
shuttle. To escape from the weaving shed to the outside world
paralleled the relief of being pardoned from hell and let into
heaven. Cold and silent relief. It was a few moments before one
tuned in to the external sounds of wind and birds. Towering above
it all were dozens of massive, brick-built chimneys spurting
out black smoke which came to earth to cloak the humble, terraced,
workers cottages and the mill-owners' villas alike in a garment
of dark grey grime. On the chimley top protrudes a cruciate lightening
rod that connects heaven and earth via a metal strip. This afforded
a climbing "ladder" for nimble boys to test their courage
for heights in competition with friends - "I dare you!"
To be continued.......................................bringing
you up to date from King Cotton through the (some would say cleansing)
IRA bomb on Market Street; present redevelopment and the triumphs
of the Red Devils - MUFC.
If you want to visit the commercial Manchester
web page click here :-