Manchester: 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know

Manchester: 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know


The Capital of the North.

Home of the biggest football team in the world and producer of a wealth of musical and sporting talent.

And my home town.

I love this city, and yes I’m a teeny bit biased but I have not yet found another place like it. It has everything that London has (in my opinion) but with a whole heap of extra friendliness. Yes, it rains a bit – OK so maybe a lot – but that doesn’t stop us.

This city has a rich history and culture that just floods the streets and while it’s has its ups and downs through the years there is nowhere else I would rather call home.

So to give you a little taste of this ever evolving city, here are 7 things that you probably didn’t know about it;

It was a Roman Fort

Manchester derives its name from Mamucium which is the latinised form of the Celtic meaning “breast-shaped hill”. It was the Roman name for the 1st Century fort and settlement, the ruins of which can still be seen in the Castlefield area of the city. Established in AD 79 the fort guarded the Chester to York Roman Road and a northern road running to Ribchester.

Manchester Roman Fort ruins
The Roman Fort ruins
manchester reconstructed roman fort gateway
Reconstructed Roman fort gateway

Following the departure of the Romans Manchester found itself part of several different territories for example while the North West of the modern day city were British, parts of Manchester such as Clayton, Gorton and Moston were Anglian and the South West was Danish.

It was originally in Salford

It is believed that the ancient parish of Manchester was formed during the Anglo-Saxon period and formed part of the Salford Hundred, or Salfordshire with Salford being the judicial centre. Ironically, many people now mistake Salford as being a part of Manchester (much to every Salfordian’s annoyance) rather than the city it is in it’s own right.

The Hundred of Salford: John Speed's map of Lancashire is one of the earliest and shows towns and villages but no highways.
The Hundred of Salford: John Speed’s map of Lancashire is one of the earliest and shows towns and villages but no highways.

It was Involved in the Magna Carta

One of the most important documents in medieval history, the Magna Carta Libertatum is a charter signed by King John in June 1215 and was an attempt to stop the monarch from abusing their power.

The first Lord of the Manor to live in Manchester, Robert Grelley, was one of the Barons that forced King John to sign the charter. He was later excommunicated for his role in the Barons rebellion and stripped of his lands although these were restored to him following King John’s death.

It is Home to the oldest free library

Tucked away in the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music you will find Chetham’s Library.

For over 350 years it has been in continuous use as a free public library. Founded in 1653 it is the oldest surviving public library in Britain!

The library was first established under the will of Humphrey Chetham, a wealthy Manchester textile merchant, banker and landowner. The building itself is even older having originally been built in 1421 to house a college of priests and as such remains one of the most complete medieval complexes that still survives in North West England.

Chetham's School of Music - home to the oldest free library in Britain
Chetham’s School of Music – home to the oldest free library in Britain

The library has an expansive collection of books with a particular interest in the history and topography of Greater Manchester and Lancashire for you to browse. Alternatively, the old sandstone buildings and the magnificent interior of library make it worth a visit for those of you, like me, can just sit and soak up the architecture and atmosphere.

It is the Birthplace of Vegetarianism

I kid you not! (no pun intended).

Back in 1815, a Christian minister by the name of William Cowherd preached about the abstinence of eating meat. His followers known as cowherdites later took the idea over to the US when some of them crossed the Atlantic.

He is credited with being the main figure in advocating the theory of vegetarianism which later led to the founding of the Vegetarian Society in 1847.

It has a deep history with Canals

Running right through the centre of the city is the Bridgewater Canal.

Interestingly, this canal was the very first artificial waterway in Britain and became key (along with the Manchester Ship Canal) in Manchester’s Industrial success.

Manchester's Bridgewater canal, the 1st man made waterway in Britain
Reflections in the Canal
one of the locks on the Bridgewater canal, manchester
Overlooking one of the locks on the Bridgewater canal

The canal was originally constructed to prevent flooding in a nearby Worsley mine.

However, the owner soon realised that these new waterways he had created were a pretty awesome way to transport the coal he was digging up- well, prior to the whole railway thing.

The Ice Cream Cone was Invented Here.

During the 19th century the Italian community established itself in the Ancoats area of the city.  By the end of the century, this area became known as Little Italy.

It was Antonio Valvona’s company which created the ‘twist’ ice cream cone and answered the health concerns that were surfacing around the use of the ‘licking glass’.

Basically up until Valvona came along scoops of ice cream were served in a glass and then washed before being used by another customer. Obviously the hygiene standards agency wasn’t a thing back in the Victorian era (although sanitary authorities did exist in some capacity)so quite often glasses weren’t washed properly and so diseases easily spread.

I hope that I’ve given you a little snippet into the greatness and variety of this place I home and perhaps I let you into more of its secrets in the coming weeks.

Until then

Keep Adventuring!

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22 thoughts on “Manchester: 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know

    1. haha it is a little hidden and round the corner from the science and industry museum, and to be fair you could mistake it for something else if you weren’t looking for it!

  1. I’ve learned a lot about Manchester! It’s a place that I’ve always wanted to visit if I ever get the chance to explore England – and now that I’ve learned a bit more about Manchester, I’m kinda excited about going there one day!

  2. What? The ice cream cone was invented in Manchester? That is so funny. I didn’t get to go here while in the UK this past summer because we couldn’t find a place to stay (some really huge music festival going on). I’m so bummed, but it is on our list for next time!

    1. haha I know right I thought that was a cool little nugget of information when I learnt it. And that is a shame I’m guessing it was Park Life?

  3. Awesome read! I’m in London for a few months and have been wanting to take a weekend trip up to Manchester, now i’m definitely going to! I’m a vegetarian too, soooo kind of like a sign for me to come up and visit now 😉

    1. thanks! Definitely do you won’t regret it! even if its just as a veggie pilgrimage! you can get a direct train from london as well and if you want any ideas of where to go just give me a shout!

    1. You are very welcome! To be honest I had no idea about the ice cream cone thing before writing this post so I’ve been learning things too!

    1. You’re very welcome and that was the idea – perhaps you’ll even think about taking a trip up here at some point? haha

  4. Such interesting facts about Manch! Good to read about the a Northern city being a Northern lass myself from Geordieland ;o) I think next time I go Manch I have to check out the canal rea more and the ruins (never seen them)

    1. Thanks! Yes it’s such a lovely peaceful area of the city that you almost wouldn’t realise that your right next to the centre

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