Manchester is often considered the capital city of the North and is increasingly attracting workers as an alternative to London. The cultural impact of Manchester is vast, from its roots leading the industrial revolution to its musical and footballing success. Yet, there are many fun facts about Manchester you might not know which make it such a wonderful city.
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Common Manchester Facts You Should Know
Manchester is in the North-West of England, almost equidistant between Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leeds. It’s the 5th largest city in the UK by population and a popular destination for tourists, both nationally and internationally. There are many famous landmarks in Manchester to explore.
Here are 30 interesting facts about Manchester to help you plan your next city break.
Interesting Historical Facts About Manchester City
The first settlement in Manchester was a Roman Fort.
The Latin name Mamucium was the first recorded reference to Manchester, in 79AD. The “Chester” suffix stems from the Old English word for castle, after the Mamucium Fort built by the Romans.
A reconstruction is available to view in Heritage Park, in Castlefield. It wasn’t until 1853 that Manchester was officially recognized as a city.
It was the main textile manufacturer during the Industrial Revolution.
During the Industrial Revolution, Manchester became prominent as a cotton manufacturer, creating and exporting textiles across the world. It was the first city to become industrialized.
To this day, the textile industry dominates Manchester and employs thousands of local people. Many fast fashion brands are based in the city, including Boohoo, In the Style, I Saw It First, JD Sports, and Pretty Little Thing.
The thriving manufacturing industry is one of the things that Manchester is famous for.
Manchester Liverpool Road was the world’s first inter-city railway.
The railway connecting Manchester and Liverpool was the first to be purpose-built for passengers and goods to travel between cities. It was built in September 1830 by George Stephenson.
The route was constructed mainly to transport cotton from Liverpool’s port to Manchester’s cotton mills, and kickstarted the industrial revolution! The line remains in operation today, so you can travel on a piece of history yourself.
The Manchester Metrolink was the UK’s first tram.
Manchester wasn’t only a pioneer in railways, it also led the way in developing the modern tram system. The Metrolink opened in 1992 and now sprawls around the city with 99 stops across 64 miles of track.
Approximately 10 million journeys are made each year. The tram is popular with commuters and the perfect way to hop between sights on a city break. This is one of the interesting facts about Manchester that you will definitely get to experience first-hand.
Apart from the metro, another popular way to view the city from a unique angle is through the city center canal cruise. Experience the city from the waters.
Chetham’s Library was the first to open to the public.
Another historical first in Manchester was the first free public library. Chetham’s Library opened over 350 years ago in 1653, making it the oldest in the UK.
The pretty sandstone building dates to 1421 and houses books that are hundreds of years old. The library is still in use today and you can book a guided tour to learn more facts about Manchester’s history.
The University of Manchester lays claim to 25 Nobel Prizes (…and counting).
Certainly one of the proud Manchester facts, the University of Manchester is one of the UK’s most prestigious. Among its alumni and staff are 25 Nobel Prize winners.
The first time an atom was split was at Manchester University, by physicist Ernest Rutherford in 1917. The first stored-program electronic computer was also invented at the university in 1948.
There are two further universities in the city; Manchester Metropolitan and the Royal Northern College of Music. In total, over 75,000 students study there.
The Suffragette movement began in Manchester.
The feminist movement started in 1903 in Manchester when Emmeline Pankurst established the Women’s Social and Political Union. The group became known as the Suffragettes and their primary goal was for women to be granted the right to vote in general elections.
Their slogan was “Votes for Women”, and they engaged in direct action activism. It wasn’t until 1928 that all women over 21 in the UK were entitled to vote.
Cultural Fun Facts About Manchester
Some of the UK’s biggest bands are Mancunian.
Manchester is full of creatives and the music scene is a much-loved part of its history and culture. Many popular bands started performing in its backstreet bars and clubs.
One of the best-known facts about Manchester is that the city was home to the Britpop movement in the 1990s and is particularly known for its indie and rave subcultures. Some of the most famous bands are Oasis, The Smiths, Take That, The 1975, and Joy Division.
Manchester United is the most popular football club in the world.
Manchester is where the professional football league was born. Research by Kantar in 2019 found there are over 1.1 billion Manchester United followers across 39 countries.
The club was founded in 1878 and was the world’s highest-earning football club in 2017. Its trophy cabinet is full to the brim, including 20 League titles, 21 Community Shields, 12 FIFA Cups, and 5 League Cups. They’re also 3-time Champions League winners.
Visiting the Old Trafford Stadium, home to the red devils is one of the most popular things to do in Manchester. Be sure to tour one of the most successful football clubs. If you can get game tickets, that would be the best but they are hard to come by last minute.
>Check Tickets To Tour Old Trafford
You can also visit the Ethiad Stadium, home to United’s counterpart, arch-rival football team – Manchester City, who have become prolific in the recent decade.
>Check Tickets To Tour Ethiad Stadium
Lowry lived and worked in Greater Manchester.
Most famous for his “matchstick men” industrial cityscapes, Laurence Lowry was a prolific painter in the mid-20th century. He grew up in the Rusholme area of the city before moving to Pendlebury in Salford, which features in much of his art.
Lowry died in February 1976 and is buried in Manchester’s Southern Cemetry. The Lowry gallery opened in 2000 at Salford Quays and is home to the biggest collection of Lowry art in the world.
Manchester is a breeding ground for celebrities.
It’s no secret that Mancunians are hard-working and ambitious. Some of the city’s most successful alumni are Tyson Fury, David Beckham, Noel and Liam Gallagher, Carol Ann Duffy, Rebecca Adlington, Marcus Rashford, Phoebe Dynevor, and Gary Barlow.
The Guardian newspaper comes from Manchester.
It started life over 200 years ago as the Manchester Guardian in 1821, before simply becoming The Guardian in 1959. It was founded by John Edward Taylor, who was a cotton merchant. He aimed to be politically neutral, upholding the journalistic values of truth and integrity.
Taylor’s paper grew exponentially into a national broadsheet and is now the 4th most read newspaper in the UK, with a monthly reach of almost 30,000 readers.
Manchester Facts About Demographics And People
The population of Manchester is 547,627 people.
The third biggest city in the UK is home to 547,627 people but the Greater Manchester area has a population of 2.5 million people. This makes it the UK’s 5th largest city by population.
Greater Manchester also includes Salford, Trafford, and the surrounding towns and villages. One of the important facts about Manchester to know for visitors is that the surrounding regions are worth exploring. If you have time, don’t just stay in the city.
The first Mayor of Greater Manchester was elected in 2017.
Since May 2017, Andy Burnham has served as Greater Manchester’s first ever Mayor. Before being elected, Burnham had a long career as a Labour MP and finished second in the 2015 Labour leadership race. He was re-elected in 2021.
Approximately 35% of Mancunians are of Irish descent.
Manchester has a large Irish community, with over a third of the population claiming lineage. Due to its proximity to the Irish sea, the city received an influx of immigrants during the 19th Century Potato Famine.
The immigrants settled in a slum district that became known as Little Ireland. It’s since been demolished and is now the Ancoats area. The biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in England takes place at Manchester’s annual Irish Festival.
Manchester is officially the best UK city to live in.
The Global Liveability Survey by The Economist has regularly crowned Manchester as the best city to live in the UK. In 2022, it was ranked 28th best in the world! The number one spot is currently held by Vienna.
The annual survey considers 30 different aspects across 5 main categories: healthcare, culture and environment, infrastructure, education, and stability.
Manchester is twinned with Wuhan.
One of the Manchester facts you might not know is that it’s twinned with the Chinese city of Wuhan. Manchester has a notable Chinese community, and its Chinatown area is hugely popular with tourists.
The arrangement has been in place since 1986 and aims to boost international investment and trade between the UK and China. When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Wuhan in 2020, Manchester’s leaders sent support and medical equipment to their sister citizens in China.
Until recently, Manchester also had a special “friendship agreement” with St. Petersburg, but this was suspended when the Ukraine War broke out.
Manchester Facts For Tourists
The biggest city-center shopping mall in the country is the Manchester Arndale.
The Arndale Centre was built in 1972. It’s currently the biggest shopping mall in a city center in Europe. The mall even has its own radio station broadcast inside, called Center Sound. Whatever you need, you’re sure to find it here.
Greater Manchester has 48 Grade I listed buildings.
This city has plenty of beautiful, architecturally interesting buildings to admire. There are 48 Grade I listed buildings and a further 236 are Grade II listed.
Many of the elegant buildings in the city center are constructed in red brick, giving a distinct feel to its cityscape. Grand, former cotton mills dominate the streets and reflect the opulence of the city’s industrial boom.
The Curry Mile has the densest concentration of South Asian restaurants outside of Asia.
If you’re planning a trip to Manchester, you must grab a takeaway from the Curry Mile. Although only half a mile long, a stretch of Wilmslow Road in Rusholme has so many Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern restaurants that it’s named “the Curry Mile” by locals.
Here, you’ll find everything from traditional cuisine to modern street food – and it’s all delicious! There are currently more than 70 restaurants and takeaways to choose from.
Peaky Blinders was filmed around the city.
Fans of the BBC hit show, Peaky Blinders, will recognize many streets in Manchester. Although the show is set in Birmingham, Manchester’s industrial cityscape better reflects the early 1900s so made the ideal backdrop for some key scenes.
Take a wander around Victoria Baths, Salford Lad’s Club, Arley Hall, Hotel Gotham, and London Road Fire Station to walk in Cillian Murphy’s footsteps yourself.
A bonus fact about Manchester? That Northern Quarter is often used to film movies set in New York, such as The Crown and Captain America.
Coronation Street is set in Manchester.
The longest-running TV soap in the world, Coronation Street, is based in Manchester. The first episode aired in 1960 and over 10,000 episodes have since been broadcast. The soap is set in the fictional town of Weatherfield, but it’s filmed at Media City, in ITV’s Trafford Wharf Studios.
Book a ticket for Coronation Street: The Tour to walk the famous cobbles and pull a pint at the Rovers Return pub.
Rolls-Royce was formed in Manchester.
In May 1904, Henry Royce and Charles Rolls had a meeting at the Midland Hotel in the city center. Henry was an engineer and Charles was a millionaire. By 1906, they had formed the company Rolls-Royce together.
If you visit the hotel now, you’ll find an unusual statue depicting the two men meeting. The company created luxury British cars, moving on to manufacture airplane engines after WWI. By 1907, Autocar magazine crowned the Rolls-Royce 40/50 “the best car in the world”.
Manchester has the UK’s biggest regional airport.
If you’re traveling to the city from within the UK, Manchester Airport will serve you well. It flies 23 million passengers annually and has 200 direct connections to European destinations.
Fun Facts About Manchester
Manchester held the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
Before the 2012 Olympics in London, this was the biggest multi-sport event the UK had ever hosted. It brought huge investment and regeneration into the city, providing thousands of jobs for local people and giving the economy a much-needed boost.
The City of Manchester Stadium was built for the Commonwealth Games. England won 165 medals, including 54 Gold, finishing second behind Australia.
There’s a pub in an underground Victorian public toilet.
This is one of the weirder facts about Manchester. On Great Bridgewater Street in the city center, you’ll find what looks like the entrance to an underground station. However, it’s a cool pub in a refurbished public toilet dating back to the Victorian era.
The Temple is a tiny bar down a flight of stairs in the middle of the road. This cozy hangout has a retro vibe with posters filling the walls, fairy lights everywhere, and a jukebox.
The Gay Village is iconic.
Manchester has a reputation as one of the world’s most LGBT+ friendly cities. Its annual Pride parade is among the biggest in the UK. The Gay Village attracts visitors from all over the country and has a thriving nightlife scene.
At its heart is The New Union Pub, one of the world’s oldest LGBT+ venues. Drag shows have been held at the pub since World War Two, decades before homosexuality was legalized in the United Kingdom in 1967.
Workers Bees are symbolic of Manchester.
The worker bee became iconic in Manchester during the industrial revolution, representing the work ethic of the people who worked in its busy cotton mills and factories.
The bee symbol features in the city’s official coat of arms, as well as the University of Manchester’s and the Boddington’s logo.
The bee became especially prominent as a symbol of strength and anti-terrorism after the Manchester Arena Bombing in 2017.
Manchester City Council’s coat of arms has a secret meaning.
As well as the worker bee symbol, the city’s official coat of arms includes three diagonal gold stripes. They represent the three rivers that flow through the city; the Irwell, Irk, and Medlock.
The three-stripe motif has also previously appeared on Manchester City Football Club’s badge.
The Vegetarian Society was founded in Manchester.
The Beefsteak Chapel was created by William Cowherd, a Christian minister, in 1847. Despite its unlikely name, Cowherd’s goal was the promotion of a vegetarian diet.
At the time, the working classes could only afford very poor-quality offal, so he didn’t have much trouble converting them. The chapel eventually evolved into The Vegetarian Society we know today.
Discovering More Fun Facts In Manchester
These are just a few of the numerous Manchester fun facts. Did you learn anything new about this vast and vibrant city? The English city has something for everyone to enjoy and is the perfect choice for your next minibreak.
If you want to learn more interesting facts about Manchester, check out some of the amazing landmarks in Manchester. Make sure to book a trip yourself and explore some of its many museums and local scene!