Pocket Britain

One of Britain's largest cities with a long and varied history from industrial significance to sporting success and from cultural importance to educational prowess

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Manchester is one of Britain's largest cities and was granted city status in 1853. With Greater Manchester having a population of over two and half million it is the fourteenth most populated city in Europe. It has a long and varied history from industrial significance to sporting success and from cultural importance to educational prowess.
Historically the capital of Lancashire, some of the city in fact lies in the county of Cheshire. The River Mersey, famous for its Liverpool connection, also runs through the city and was vital in the industrial expansion of the settlement.
Up until the late 18th century, Manchester wasn't considered to be particularly significant. However, with the boom of the industrial revolution the city rapidly grew as a result of unplanned urbanisation. Manchester's success was built upon the cotton industry. The mills of Lancashire and North Cheshire spun a huge amount of cotton and established Manchester, for a time, as the world's largest market for cotton goods and an international centre for textile manufacturing. Dubbed "Cottonpolis" and "Warehouse City" during the Victorian era, the town grew into a huge metropolis. In Australia and South Africa the term 'Manchester' is still used for household linen such as sheets and towels. These rapid developments lead to claims in 1835 that the settlement was "without challenge the first and greatest industrial city in the world". This justified the building of the 36 mile long Manchester Ship Canal, completed in 1894, giving this inland city direct access to the sea. The urban evolution of the city and historic nature of its industrialised past, lead to the city centre being granted UNESCO World Heritage site status, mainly as a result of the unique canal network and 19th century mills.
Now-a-days Manchester's industrial success has been replaced with a culture of business, media and higher education excellence. The city is regarded as the one of the best places in Britain to start a business and data published in 2007 showed it to be the 'fastest growing city' economically in the country. Manchester's Universities have maintained the educational nature of the city and the growth of BBC Manchester continues to result in a fine culture of journalism and media. To add to the commercial success, Manchester is also a city of real sporting note. Manchester United is the biggest football team in the world and one of the globes most successful sporting outfits. Old Trafford or the 'Theatre of Dreams' is a must visit for any United fan or sporting fanatic. The city is also home to rivals Manchester City and their impressive new 'City of Manchester Stadium' home to the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the controversial B of the Bang sculpture. Lancashire County Cricket team also make their home in the city.
To add to the industrial, commercial and sporting achievements of the city, Manchester has also developed as a world class centre of culture and art. The Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Craft and Design Centre provide much for the culture vulture and the impressive complex that is 'The Lowry' cost an estimated 120 million. Named after local artist LS Lowry, it houses two theatres, a gallery and a drama studio. Nearby the Imperial War Museum North can also be found on the Quay side and provides a real insight into the turbulent war years.
Other attractions include the parks of Heaton and Platt Fields, gothic Manchester Town Hall and the shopping facilities of the city centre, reputed as some of the best outside of London. The city also has an notable music legacy, birthing such names as The Smiths, Joy Division and Oasis as well as the world renown nightclub 'The Hacienda'. Central to the growth of acid house and rave music in the 80's and 90's the club closed in 1997. As a result of such musical might, Manchester's nightlife is now considered one of the best in Europe, with over 500 licensed premises and a plethora of world famous nightclubs such as One Central Street and Ritz.
Manchester has everything a city could offer; great history, wonderful architecture, an impressive sporting and artistic heritage and exhilarating nightlife. Visit Manchester and you won't be disappointed!
Visitor Information
Manchester Visitor Centre, Picadilly Plaza, Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4BT. Tel: 0871 222 8223
Manchester Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Entry is FREE. Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL. Tel: 01612 358 888
Manchester Craft and Design Centre is open Monday to Saturday from 10pm to 5:30pm. Entry is FREE. 17 Oak Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 5JD. Tel: 01618 324 274
Imperial War Museum North is open daily from 10am to 6pm (5pm in winter). Entry is FREE. The Quays, Trafford, Wharf Road, Manchester, M17 1TZ. Tel: 01618 364 000

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