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.
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.
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.
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.
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.