Lying on the fringes of East Manchester, Openshaw’s origins were that of a small Hamlet, surrounded by an ancient wooded area, lying outside the manor of Manchester. As with many areas, 19th century industrialisation transformed the area and much like its near neighbour Gorton, heavy engineering and ordnance works came to the region. Very little of that is left, consequently the area suffers from high levels of deprivation but is undergoing regeneration as part of the East Manchester Project. The…

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Clayton can claim to house the only moated building to survive in the Manchester area and dating from the 12th century, Clayton Hall was the seat of the Byron’s and latterly of Humphrey Chetham. Once set in lush countryside East of Manchester, the area was quickly industrialised and now forms part of the conurbation bordering the Etihad Stadium redevelopment, it has benefited in recent years from East Manchester’s regeneration. Clayton Hall The only moated building to survive in the Manchester area and…

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Part of the East Manchester industrial conurbation, Beswick housing was cleared after the second world war to be replaced by flats, but places like Fort Beswick and Bell Crescent quickly destroyed any sense of community and succumbed to vandalism. Today as part of East Manchester’s regeneration, building work is taking place including residential housing, a new school and library. With the redevelopment of the Etihad stadium which spans the border of Clayton, the council hopes to transform the area into…

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Remaining rural until the 1930’s, this North Manchester village, its name literally meaning  the clearing in the dark wood, was an area of deciduous woodland and formed part of the manor of the Lords of Manchester. Home to Boggart Hole Clough and parts of Heaton Park, its position on the River Irk attracted the bleaching and dyeing industries and its Hexagon Tower became the headquarters of ICI. The name of Blackley is said to derive  from ley, leag, Leah, meaning…

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Manchester’s first overspill town, built on land purchased across the Mersey in Cheshire by the City Corporation. The project, championed by the Simon’s began in the 1930’s to relocate Manchester’s residents from the slum areas of the inner city to the pleasant fields of wheat and flowers across the river. Blighted in its early days for lack of facilities, today it stands as a blue print for the problems of new towns, once the location of Europe’s largest council estate,…

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Journalist and publisher Joseph Aston was to describe Ardwick as “one of the best built and most pleasant suburbs in the Kingdom to which its elegant houses its expanded greens and its lake in the centre all contribute”. The cotton magnates would recognise this, building their fine houses on all sides of what was once countryside, the nearest building being Ancoats Hall, whilst the Corn Brook stream ran through open fields lined with trees. The village takes its name from…

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John Bradford


John Bradford was born in 1510 and educated at Manchester Grammar School where he showed considerable ability in Latin and Arithmetic. He served under John Harrington, using his numeracy skills in managing his financial affairs before going on to study law at the Temple in London. It was there that it is said that through the influence of a fellow student he was converted to the Protestant Christian faith; the religion of England at the time under Edward VI, leaving law school…

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William Camden visits Manchester


William Camden is acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of English local history. His publication of Britannia in 1586 and subsequent additions was the first chorography of the British Isles, notably England and Wales and presents a county by county description of the realm. William Camden was born in London in 1551, and attended Christ’s Hospital, St Paul’s School and Oxford University. From 1575 he taught at Westminster School but spent holidays travelling for antiquarian research. The first edition…

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The start of Cottonopolis

Gossypium, the cotton genus, belongs in the world of botanics to the tribe Gossypieae part of the mallow family. Its flowers are creamy-white which later turn a deep pink and fall off, leaving seed pods called ‘cotton bolls’. Inside the bolls are seeds surrounded by fibres which are spun into thread for cloth and still today, in the age of synthetic fibres, accounts for forty per cent of the world’s textiles. There are thought to be over fifty species of…

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John Dee in Manchester


John Dee arrived in Manchester on Monday afternoon, February 15, 1596, and took up his abode in the Collegiate as its Warden.  Born in the village of Mortlake in 1527, he was already thus sixty eight years of age. Once the scientist astrologer to the court of Elizabeth I and probably the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Prospero in the Tempest, his career had to date covered science, geography, astrology, antiquarian and secret agent.  He had the largest library in England, he…

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