“Manchester, so much to answer for”.
We might have so much to answer for, but with a history as rich, vibrant and culturally diverse as Manchester’s, of course we’re happy to answer for it.
In fact, we think it’s best to shout it from the roof tops.
It’s a near impossible task to narrow it down to just 20 things, so we’ve decided against assigning numbers to this list and that’s simply because we think each ‘gift’ is important. They’re all equally as impressive as each other and they’re all something to be really bloody proud of – how can we rank that?
So, in no particular order, here’s the top 20 things that Manchester has gifted the world.
‘Madchester’ Music Scene
Madchester was a musical and cultural scene that developed in the late 1980s.
It saw artists merging alternative rock with elements of acid house, rave music, psychedelia and 1960s pop and was Britain’s defining youth culture, both in terms of sounds and styles, and its effects that are still felt today.
The Manchester Baby, also called the small-scale experimental machine (SSEM), was the first electronic stored-program computer and was built at the University of Manchester by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn, and Geoff Tootill.
It ran its first program on 21st June 1948.
A working replica of the Manchester Baby is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry.
The Suffragettes & Votes for Women
Emmeline Pankhurst was born in Moss Side in 1858.
The leader of the Suffragettes, she founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – a women-only movement – in 1903 and tirelessly campaigned to deliver the right for women to vote.
The Splitting of the Atom
Manchester is the birthplace of nuclear physics.
Ernest Rutherford changed the world when he split the atom at The University of Manchester in 1917.
This significant scientific breakthrough resulted in the development of nuclear power and cancer-fighting radiotherapy.
Coronation Street first aired on UK television screens in 1960 and is famously set in Weatherfield – a fictional town based on inner-city Salford.
To date, it’s the longest running British soap opera and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Vimto was created in 1908 at Granby Row in the centre of Manchester by Noel Nichols – a wholesaler of herbs, spices and medicines.
It was originally sold under the name ‘Vim Tonic’, which was shortened to Vimto in 1912.
Tony Wilson & Factory Records
Anthony ‘Tony’ Wilson was a man of many talents.
He was the owner of Factory Records, a journalist, a radio and television presenter, and of course, the founder and manager of the Haçienda nightclub. Dubbed as ‘Mr Manchester’, the music mogul was behind some of Manchester’s most successful bands and is known for fiercely promoting the culture of the city throughout his career.
Chetham’s Library is the oldest English-speaking public library in the world and has been in continuous use since it was founded 1653.
The library holds more than 100,000 volumes of printed books, 60,000 of which were published before 1851.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels first met in Manchester at Chetham’s Library in 1842.
The research they undertook during their visits to the library ultimately led to their work on the Communist Manifesto, which briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism.
The Communist Manifesto was registered to UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World Programme’ in 2013.
The National Health Service (NHS) was founded by Anuerin Bevan in 1948.
It was born out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth, position or social class. Park Hospital in Davyhulme, Manchester – now Trafford General Hospital – is known as “the birthplace of the NHS”.
The Vegetarian Society’s first full public meeting was held in Manchester in 1848.
The society made publications available on the topic, sometimes accompanied by lectures, and by 1853, it already had 889 members.
Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business in 1884 and made his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in his Manchester factory in 1904.
Royce was also introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel during that very same year.
The rest is history.
The Bridgewater Canal opened in 1761.
The 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, who owned a number of coal mines in Northern England, wanted a reliable way to transport his coal to the rapidly industrialising city of Manchester and so, the first major British canal was born.
It has also been argued to be the first true canal of the Industrial Revolution in England.
Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer was founded by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer as a market stall in Leeds, originally named Penny Bazaar, but the pair moved to Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester and also opened market stalls in many locations around the North West.
The first Marks & Spencer store opened on Stretford Road, Hulme in 1894.
Manchester gave birth to the world’s first inter-city railway line which opened in 1830.
It was also the first railway to rely exclusively on steam power, the first to be entirely double track throughout its length, the first to have a signalling system, the first to be fully timetabled, and the first to carry mail.
Manchester Victoria Station is also one of the world’s oldest continuously operating stations and still remains the second largest train station in the UK.
Inventor George Garrett, born and raised in Moss Side, founded the Submarine Navigation and Pneumataphore Company and his vessel, Resurgam, which was the first ever military submarine.
It was devised in his office on Deansgate, in the heart of the city centre, in 1878.
The Guardian, or rather The Manchester Guardian, was founded in 1821.
It was founded in Manchester by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor, with backing from a group of non-conformist businessmen and was launched after the police closure of the more radical Manchester Observer – a paper that had championed the cause of the Peterloo Massacre protesters.
Graphene is the world’s thinnest substance.
It’s about 100 times stronger than the strongest steel, yet its density is dramatically lower than any steel substance. It conducts heat and electricity very efficiently, and is nearly transparent.
Scientists have theorised about Graphene for decades, but the material was later rediscovered, isolated and characterised by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2004.
The Textile Industry
Manchester was the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution changed everything and shaped European history during the 19th/early 20th century. Manchester, dubbed ‘Cottonopolis’, provided a pattern for the development of the industrial city, was once the international centre of the world’s cotton industry and imported up to a billion tonnes of raw cotton per year.
The ‘Sixth’ Day
“…And on the sixth day, God created MANchester”
Leo Stanley, owner of clothes brand ‘Identity’ in Afflecks Palace, said: “One night after the Haçienda I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up the Bible and read ‘On the sixth day, God created Man.’ and wrote down in my Filofax ‘On the sixth day, God created Manchester.”
“That t-shirt went mental – we couldn’t print them fast enough.”
“Someone sent me a photograph from a French magazine of Jean-Paul Gaultier and Madonna at a party, both wearing ‘On the Sixth Day’ T-shirts.”
A mosaic featuring the phrase by local artist Mark Kennedy sits on the outside wall next to the entrance of Afflecks Palace and has become a popular tourist attraction to those visiting the city centre.
So, there you have it – 20 things that Manchester has gifted the world.
World, you’re welcome.
Featured Image – Wikimedia Commons