First mentioned in 1533 as part of the estates of the Trafford’s and so named as it existed between three areas of Moss land, in 1851 it still only had 153 dwellings one of which was the black and white farmhouse featured in the opening chapter of Mrs Gaskell’s, Mary Barton.

“”A deep clear pond reflecting in its dark green depths the shadowy trees that bend over it to exclude the sun – the only place where its banks are shelving is on the side next to the rambling farmyard belonging to one of those old world gabled black and white houses overlooking the field through which the footpath leads. The porch of this farmhouse is covered by a rose tree and a litter garden surrounding it is a medley of old fashioned flowers”

It, like many areas of south Manchester, saw rapid house building in the early 20th century.

This description from 1902

“There is the general impression of a landscape only partly completed and rough hewn at that, as if the designer were in a mighty hurry and didn’t care how he worked as long as he did work and could show some sort of return for his labours …… (this half finished and transition aspect) depresses the stranger so much that it doesn’t require a very vivid imagination to conjour up the sky as darker and more lowering than elsewhere”

Incorporated into Manchester in 1904, Moss Side’s early twentieth century population would move south and its large terraced houses became home to thousands of migrants, mainly from the West Indies and Asia.  

In 1953 an article described Moss Side as a cosmopolitan suburb of all shades where the Englishman rubs shoulders with the Jamaican, Indian or African colonials. Racial tensions would eventually explode 30 years later and the area would also be connected with gun crime.

Today Moss Side, like its neighbour Hulme has been reinvented, the Greenhay’s Development, inspired by the Mary Barton novel, and formerly a large plot of derelict land, regarded as a prime example of modern inner city urban design.



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