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10 Facts about Manchester, England

Updated on April 20, 2014
Manchester Town Hall
Manchester Town Hall | Source

Manchester is a city that is the metropolitan center of a large manufacturing conurbation in northwest England. Approximately 180 miles (290 km) northwest of London, it lies at the confluence of the Irwell, Irk, and Medlock rivers.

1. Manchester is the commercial and distribution center for the region that produces a wide variety of engineering products, especially electronics, but is itself chiefly occupied with services such as distribution, warehousing, and administrative work, aided by vigorous trade and marketing associations. It is also an important center of banking, insurance, and services and has 50% of British industry within two hours' drive by heavy truck.

2. Manchester has a long history of scientific and cultural achievement, supported by associations such as the Literary and Philosophical Society (1780), whose membership has included some of the foremost British writers, thinkers, and scientists. The city is the home of the famous Hallé Orchestra.

Victoria University of Manchester
Victoria University of Manchester | Source

3. The Victoria University of Manchester (1880) includes an institute of technology. It has led the world in research into atomic structure under the guidance of Ernest Rutherford and his successors, and played a prominent part in the invention of the computer. Near the city center are housed the Polytechnic (1970) and many other specialized adult colleges -for example, the Royal Northern College of Music- as well as the North Western Museum of Science and Industry. The ancient Grammar School at Rusholme (1515), along with other independent schools, supplements the comprehensive provision of municipal as well as religious-sponsored primary, secondary, and special schools.

4. The city administers the City Art Galleries, which includes the Manchester Art Gallery, with a fine collection of 19th-century English works. Other art galleries include the Whitworth, particularly known for its decorative arts collections, and the Lowry, a new gallery and theater complex that contains a large collection of the works of L. S. Lowry (1887–1976), a local artist famed for his paintings of Manchester's dockland life.

Chetham's Library
Chetham's Library | Source

5. The city also houses Chetham's Library (1653), the first free public library in Britain; the Manchester Central Library, with one of the finest municipal reference collections in the country; and the John Rylands University Library, which includes many notable sections -for example, early printed books.

6. The Bridgewater Hall, a performing arts center that opened in 1996, is the home of the Hallé Orchestra, Britain's longest established professional symphony orchestra. Manchester is also the location of the regional offices of the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), Granada television (independent), and the National Computing Center. The city's football (soccer) team, Manchester United, is world famous; it plays at Old Trafford Stadium.

Manchester Cathedral
Manchester Cathedral | Source

7. Manchester Cathedral, the seat of the Church of England diocese, is pre-Norman. Other noteworthy buildings in Manchester are St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church (1795), the Cross Street Chapel (Unitarian), the Town Hall (Victorian Gothic Revival), Liverpool Road Station, and the important Halls of Baguley (about 1320), Wythenshawe (about 1535), and Heaton (1772).

8. Major modern buildings, in addition to the Lowry and the Bridgewater Hall, are the Imperial War Museum North (designed by Daniel Libeskind; 2002) and the Urbis (2002), an exhibition center devoted to urban life. Piccadilly Gardens, a square in the center of the city, was redesigned in 2001–2002 by the Japanese architect Tadeo Ando. Among a number of new bridges is the Trinity Bridge across the River Irwell, which was designed (1996) by the Spaniard Santiago Calatrava.

9. Manchester is governed by an elected metropolitan borough council of 96 members, 3 for each ward. The councillors elect one of themselves as lord mayor, but this is a largely ceremonial position. The council also appoints an executive of 10 members -a leader and his or her cabinet. Manchester elects 5 members to the national Parliament. By the local government reorganization of 1974, the city of Manchester is one of ten metropolitan boroughs within Greater Manchester county, with which it shares some government functions. The other boroughs are Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan.

10. The Romans established a fort on the site of Manchester in about 70 A.D. The city's economic importance is shown by the grant of an annual fair in 1227 by King Henry III. By the 17th century a wide variety of textiles were being produced, finished, and marketed.

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