Skip to content
Bradshaw’s Guide

Manchester

Manchester, the metropolis of the cotton manufacture, a cathedral city, and parliamentary borough, in the south-east comer of Lancashire, on the Irwell, 188¼ miles from London, and 31½ from Liverpool. The last named town is the real port which supplies its staple article in the raw state, but Manchester itself has all the privileges of one, being licensed to bond imported goods as much as it it were by the sea side. It has been the head of a bishop’s see since 1848, when a new diocese was taken out of Chester, including the greater part of Lancashire; and the Collegiate Church turned into a cathedral.

Manchester and Salford, though separate boroughs, divided by the Irwell, form one great town, which in 1861 contained a population of 460,428, of which 102,449 belonged to Salford. Manchester returns two members to parliament, and Salford one. With Salford it covers a space of about 3½ miles long, by 2½ broad, and 10 miles in circuit; a line which takes in various suburbs, as Hough, Pendleton, Strangeways, Cheetham, Smedley, Newton, Miles Platting, Beswick, Ardwick, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, Hulme, &c., all of which are continually spreading into the country, and constitute the best built and most modern portion of the town, the most ancient being in the centre, round the Cathedral. The principal buildings of Manchester are not numerous, but scattered; its great features being its vast and busy factories, the industry and spirit of its commercial relations, rather than the display of architectural refinement. But in this respect great changes have already been made; its government possessing a unity of purpose well adapted to develop the various schemes of improvement which from time to time are suggested. The manorial rights, which formerly belonged to the family of the Mosleys, together with the vast surplus profits arising out of the Gas Worts, first established in 1817, create a fund calculated to meet the progressive requirements of the times. Manchester is seated on a wide plain, with a slight elevation here and there; but not far off are the border lines of the three adjacent counties of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Cheshire. Some of the most rugged hills and the finest pass scenery in England, may here be witnessed. Four railways traverse this remarkable district—the Lancashire and Yorkshire, Loudon and North Western, Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire, and South Junction.

Although it was a Roman station under the name of Mancunium, which the Saxons altered to Mancestre, yet there are few remains of antiquity, besides some old timber houses and the College! When Leland undertook his topographical survey in the reign of Henry VIII. it was the most populous town in the county, and noted for its woollen goods (even then called cottons), the making of which was introduced by the Flemings of Edward III.’s time. But about 80 years ago calicoes and cotton muslins began to supersede every other manufacture; Watt’s steam-engine, Arkwright’s power-loom and factory system, and inexhaustible supplies of coal have given a superiority to Manchester, which it has retained to this day. Within that period it has multiplied its population by 7 or 8; and its goods are sent to every corner of the globe. Old people are yet alive who remember the first factory in Miller’s Lane, and its great chimney; now there are above 120, a visit to any of which is one of the chief sights of Manchester. Here thread as fine as 460 hanks to the lb. is spun; each hank being 840 yards; and every variety of cotton, silk, and mixed goods, is woven; while, such is the power of production, that cotton may be brought from India, across the sea, made up and shipped again for India, and there sold cheaper than the native dealer can buy it in his own market: while the whole quantity has increased two hundred per cent, the average price has fallen from 7½d to 3½d. per yard. It is calculated that, in Lancashire, there are 1,000 factories, with 300,000 hands, and a power of 90,000 horses, moving 1,000,000 power-looms and 20,000,000 spindles. Nine-tenths of them are within thirty miles of Manchester. The annual produce is worth £68,000,000 sterling a-year, or, one-fourth of a million per day. One-half of this is consumed at home. (See Lancashire Witchcraft).

A piece of cloth, twenty-eight yards long, may be printed in three or four colours in a minute, or nearly one mile of it in an hour. So rapid are the various processes, that goods sent in the grey state from the mill in the afternoon, are bleached, dressed, starched, finished, and placed in the next day’s market. Fustians, hats, machines, and locomotive engines, figure among the subordinate branches of manufacture.

Among the factories, notice Birley’s, at Chorlton, and Dewhurst’s, in the Adelphi, Salford, with its tall stone chimney, 243 feet high, on a base 21 feet square and 45 feet high. The bleach and dye works are placed up and down the Irwell and its tributaries. Wood and Westhead’s smallware manufactory Brook Street; Whitworth’s machine factory in Chorlton Street; Sharp’s, Atlas Works, Oxford Street; Fairbairn’s, in Ancoats; Nasmyth’s, Bridgewater Foundry, at Patricroft, may be visited. Manchester is famed for its magnificent warehouses. For style of architecture and beauty, perhaps Watts’s new warehouses in Portland Street excel all others, and ought by all means to be seen.

Public and Commercial Buildings.—After the mills, the chief buildings worth notice are the following:— Town Hall, in King Street, built by F. Goodwin; a Grecian colonnade in front, with carved emblems, and a public room under the dome, 130 feet long, ornamented with frescoes. There is a hall for Salford, in Chapel Street: that for Chorlton is in Cavendish Street. Exchange, in Market Street, built 1806, by Harrison, of Chester, is a fine building, with a Doric circular front, which renders the exterior imposing. It has been considerably enlarged and beautified, its area 1628 square yards, renders it the largest exchange room in Europe; it is 185 feet long by 82 feet broad. Here may be seen the “Cotton Lords” on a Tuesday, in their legislative assembly. It contains a portrait, by Lawrence, of T. Stanley, Esq., M.P. Corn Exchange, in Hanging Ditch; built in 1837. The new large Market at Shude Hill (the Manchester Smithfield) should be visited, as its superb glass and iron roof is splendid and unique.

News Rooms, Institutions, Libraries, Places for Recreation, &c.Royal Institution, in Mosley Street, founded in 1823, and built by Barry, a handsome Grecian building, with a six-column Ionic portico, casts of the Elgin marbles, Chantrey’s statue of Dalton, the Manchester chemist, and a lecture theatre; a School of Design forms part of it. Dalton used to lecture at the Literary and Philosophical Society, in George Street, established in 1781. The Manchester Royal School of Medicine and Surgery in Pine Street, founded in 1824; average number of pupils, 80 to 100. Lectures are given on practical chemistry, anatomy, surgery, &c. Athenœum, in Bond Street, also by Barry; among the pictures is St. Francis Xavier, by Murillo; annual literary gatherings are held here, generally presided over by some eminent person. Mechanics’ Institution, in David Street, a handsome new building; opened in September, 1856. Free Trade Hall. This tine new edifice, in the pure Italian style of architecture, replaces the large old building in Peter Street, which was without windows, and had no pretensions whatever to architectural display, being principally worthy of notice for the large number of persons it was calculated to hold, it was here, at the first great Anti-Corn Law League Meeting, when the Rev. James William Massie, D.D., had risen to address the assembly, that the fights were entirely extinguished, and the vast assembly left in total darkness until the gas could be again fit. The new building is calculated to hold about 7,000 people: its inaugural opening took place on the 8th October, 1856. Portico, a substantial building, in Mosley Street, designed by Harrison, of Chester. There are upwards of 14,000 vols. in the library. The files of newspapers are the best out of London. Subscription Concert Hall, Peter Street. Old Subscription Library, Ducie Street, founded in 1765, and has 30,000 volumes; the New Library, in the Exchange Buildings, contains 120,000 volumes. Free Library, in a handsomely fitted-up building, in Camp Field (which belonged to the Socialists’ body), established at a cost of £12,000, and open to all young and old, properly recommended. Periodicals and newspapers are supplied in profusion, and there is a library of 21,000 volumes, which are lent out, without restriction. The losses are few, and the privilege is greatly appreciated. First Shakspeare, then Defoe, Scott, and Macaulay, appear, on inquiry, to be the chief favourites with the steady readers. Branch Libraries in Rochdale Road and Hulme. Chetham Library, Chetham’s College, contains upwards of 25,000 vols., many of which are rare and valuable. Open to residents and strangers from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; during the winter season it closes at 4 p.m. Newall’s Buildings Public Library, commenced 1830, 20,000 vols. Foreign Library, St. Ann’s Street, upwards of 7,000 vols.; French, Italian; German, Spanish, &c. Law Library in Norfolk Street. At Salford, Lark Hill, formerly the residence of the late W. Garnett, Esq., has been converted into a handsome Library and Museum, with the same object as the Free Library at Manchester, with rooms 60 feet to 75 feet long, for reading, pictures, natural history specimens, &c, the sculpture being placed on the broad staircase. The Museum of Natural History in Peter Street contains a good collection. Theatre Royal, in Peter Street, built in 1845, in the modern Italian style, with a fine statue of Shakspeare in front. The Queen’s, or Minor Theatre, in York Street and Spring Gardens. The Prince’s, in Oxford Street, built in 1864, on the principle of a Limited Liability Company.

Gardens, Parks, &c.Botanical Gardens, at Old Trafford, a very pretty tract of sixteen acres, with lake, conservatory, &c. Victoria Park between London and Oxford Roads, is a space of 140 acres, covered with villas. The Queen’s Park and museum, on the Rochdale Road; Philip’s Park, Bradford Road; and Peel Park, Salford, are open to the public. In the latter is a memorial to the Queen, in commemoration of her first visit to Manchester, and one to the late lamented Prince Consort, in white Sicilian marble, both of which are considered good likenesses; by Mr. Matthew Noble. Those to Sir Robert Peel and Joseph Brotherton, Esq., the faithful representative of Salford for a many years, are also good specimens of the art. Kersal Moor, where the races were held, is now partly cultivated, and has a good church on one part of it.

Colleges, Hospitals, &c.Lancashire Independent College, established 1840, at Withington. The Wesleyan Theological Institution, Didsbury, opened in 1842, accommodates about 40 students for the Wesleyan Ministry. Chetham College, or Blue Coat School, close to the Cathedral, was founded in 1651, by Humphrey Chetham, in the old buildings attached to the Collegiate Church, forming an antique dingy quadrangle, one side of which is appropriated to a library of 25,000 volumes (rarely used), with some “curiosities” ranged on the walls; and portraits of John Bradford, the martyr (a native of Manchester); Dean Nowell, who compiled the Church Catechism, and others. A statue of the founder, by Theed, was placed in the Cathedral, in 1853. The college is open to the public, and forms an object of attraction. The Grammar School, founded by Bishop Oldham in 1524, and since rebuilt, is near this; it has an income of £4,500. Owen’s College, Quay Street; principal, J. G. Greenwood, B.A., founded by John Owen, who bequeathed upwards of £80,000 for the purpose of endowing it. Certificates are issued to candidates for the degrees of bachelor of arts and bachelor of laws, to be conferred by the University of London. The house was formerly the residence of the late Richard Cobden, Esq., M.P. Chemical laboratory and other conveniences. Commercial Schools, Stretford New Road, built in 1848, by the Manchester Church Educational Society. A library, museum, and specimens of natural history, are attached for the use of the pupils. Ladies’ Jubilee School, established in 1806, nearly opposite the Workhouse. In 1832 Mrs. Frances Hall bequeathed £10,000, which increased the number of pupils to 40, and further improved the building. Other educational and literary societies are the Chetham Society, Natural History Society, Geological Society, Statistical Society, and Manchester Law Association. Royal Infirmary, in Piccadilly, is a large handsome stone’ building, to which a new dome and portico have been added. It was founded as far back as 1753. It presents a noble appearance. It has six physicians and surgeons, resident surgeons and apothecaries; an income of £9,000, and annually relieves upwards of 20,000 patients (see Bradshaw’s Hand-book to the Manufacturing Districts). Bronze statues of the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Watt, and Dalton, adorn the grounds in front of the institution. It is intended to add one of Her Majesty. School for the Deaf and Dumb, and Henshaw’s Blind Asylum, are near the Botanical Gardens, at Old Trafford, with a chapel serving for both, all in a handsome Tudor style, with a front 280 feet long. Lane was the architect, in 1836. Lunatic Asylum at Prestwich.

Prisons, Workhouses, &c.New Assize Courts, Strangeways. The City Gaol, at Hyde Road, commenced in 1847, completed in 1849, employing 200 workmen, and using ten million bricks, capable of holding about 432 prisoners, carried on upon the solitary system. It is enclosed by a boundary wall 20 feet high, and 2 feet 8 inches thick, and consists of three wings for male prisoners, and one for females, and one (the shortest) contains the chapel, hospital, &c. The New Bailey Prison, on the Salford side of the Irwell, was begun in 1787, in Howard’s time, who laid the first stone; it is an extensive range, with nearly six hundred cells in it, besides wards workrooms, sessions-house, police-court, &c. A high wall, surrounded by an iron chevaux de frise encloses the whole; turrets at the angles of the building, with loop holes for firing through, are placed for defence in case of attack. Holds 583 males, and 214 females. Union Poor-House, erected in 1792, at a cost of about £30,000, in New Bridge Street, Strangeways, is a little town in itself, capable of accommodating upwards of 1,000 persons. The New Workhouse and Farm at Crumpsall, having about fifty acres of land attached to it, which furnishes employment for a considerable number of able bodied poor. At Swinton, four miles on the Bolton Road, on a-site of 34 acres, is a large branch Industrial School, in the Elizabethan style, by Tattersall and Dickson, with room for 1,500 pauper children. The Salford Workhouse is in Eccles New Road, that for Chorlton-upon-Medlock at Withington.

Barracks.Cavalry Barracks, Chester Road, accommodates upwards of 300 men and horses, besides commissioned and non-commissioned officers, &c. Infantry Barracks, Regent Road, Salford, will hold above 700 men, besides officers.

Railway Stations.—London and North Western, London Road and Victoria; Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire, London Road; Lancashire and Yorkshire, Victoria, Hunt’s Bank, and New Bailey Street, Salford; South Junction and Altrincham, Oxford Road and Knott Mill.

Bridges.—Several bridges, of short dimensions, cross the Irwell and its two branches, the Irk and Medloek, the best of which is the Victoria Bridge a noble stone arch, 100 feet span, near the Cathedral; rebuilt in 1839, in place of the old Gothic bridge of the time of Edward III. That at Broughton (uniting Broughton with Pendleton) is a very handsome suspension bridge, opened in 1826, which had the misfortune to fall in while a detachment of soldiers were passing over it some years ago, but since rebuilt. Other bridges are the Blackfriars, at the end or St. Mary’s Gate, opened in 1820; Albert Bridge (late New Bailey), near the prison, in 1844; Regent Road, in 1808; Ducie; Springfield Lane, in 1850; The Iron Bridge, New Bridge Street; and Broughton (uniting Salford with Broughton), in 1806; at the latter tolls are taken, as also at the suspension. A new bridge from Water Street to Ordsal Lane, in 1863; also one in 1S64, from the bottom of Greengate, Salford, to Hunt’s Bank, at a cost of £21,328. It is a cast iron structure, with pierced parapets, surmounted with globular lamps, in the form of a trapezium, a form assumed more to benefit the adjoining property than to serve the purposes of ornamentation. In Fairfield Street, on the Birmingham line, is one of the best Skew Bridges- in the kingdom, by Buck; it is at an angle of 24° only, built of iron, 128 feet span, six-ribbed, and weighing 540 tons: the width of the street is only 48 feet.

Churches and Chapels.—The Cathedral, originally a collegiate church, founded by the Delawarrs, is a handsome perpendicular English cross. A great variety of grotesque carvings are seen without and in the choir; the roof is flat, but adorned with fret-work. There are several chapels, formerly the chantries of the Trafford, Stanley, and other families, of whom it contains some monumental brasses. Theed’s statue of Chetham is here. Few of the other churches deserve, notice. At St. Peter’s is a picture of the Descent from the Cross, by G. Caracci. Near this church was the field of “Peterloo,” where the celebrated reform meeting, called by Henry Hunt, the blacking maker, was dispersed by the yeomanry, in 1819, with the loss of several lives. St. Matthew’s large church stands on the site of the Roman station, or Castle Field. There are altogether about 50 churches and chapels. The Roman Catholics possess two or three handsome chapels, the best being their Cathedral, at Salford, which is 200 feet, long, with a handsome west front, and spire 240 feet high.

Cemeteries.—Eusholme Road, Ardwick, Harpurhey, Cheetham Hill (Wesleyan), and the Salford Borough Cemetery, in the Eccles New Road. 1

Clubs.—Union, Mosley Street; Albion, King Street.

Of two well-known chemists, Henry was a native, and Dalton here developed his great discovery of the Atomic theory, which has done so much to give precision to the science. Among the living natives are Ainsworth, the novelist, and two poets, C. Swain and T. K. Hervey.

In the neighbourhood is Beaton Park, the seat of the Earl of Wilton, modernised by Wyatt.


  1. The first interment that took place was that of the remains of the late Mr. Joseph Brotherton, the well-known member of parliament for Salford, to whose memory a monument has since been erected by public subscription. 

Spotted a mistake? Suggest a correction on GitHub.