Manchester, England

Part of Group:

Rebecca Cybulski 

Dr. Jennifer MacLure 

Literature and English 2: Map Assignment 

20 October 2020 


Manchester, a city located in northwest England, has a population of 440,000 people and is known as the world’s first industrial city (Williams 1). From 1750-1850, industrialization roared in the city; this boost in industry and economic opportunity was, in part, thanks to the factories that supplied work to both city and rural laborers as well as immigrants from other countries. Gwyndaf Williams, author of the essay “Manchester” writes “Machine based manufacture of cotton was the driving force for this expansion…” (1); also important in the city’s expansion were the growing careers in metals, engineering, chemicals, transportation, spinning and weaving. Inspired by this boom of activity, social relationships progressed and produced businessmen, unionists, politicians and later, reformers. 

While Manchester was the scene of newness, opportunity and business, it also became a stratified city in terms of socioeconomic status. This fact is supported by Williams: “Manchester was, as a consequence, one of England's most overcrowded and unhealthy places during the first half of the 19th century, and even by the early years of the present century it was estimated that around a third of the city's population were living in poverty” (1). Furthermore, politically-inspired reformers made valiant efforts to reduce poor living and health conditions for--mainly-- the impoverished, working class men and their families. Reformers targeted civic policy that “rested with housing and health, and with the establishment of locally elected government and the provision of municipal public services'' (Williams 4). 

In efforts to later reconstruct the city, many old houses were demolished and money was donated to fund a “regeneration strategy” (Williams 8). Williams further outlines the plan of £200 million in urban funding to transform the city of Manchester: 

 It covers 120 hectares (with 5500 local authority dwellings) and has long been one of Britain's most infamous social housing schemes, characterized by unprecedented levels of poverty (60% of its population depend on income support), substandard public services and deficient environmental quality. This ambitious project aims to reintegrate the area into the city's social, economic and physical life, and to create stable residential communities and a much improved quality of life. (Williams 8)

Thus, while Manchester was once considered the world’s first industrial city, it was not able to support all of the people that would flock to the area. The impoverished people suffered from low wages, little food, poor housing conditions and mental health issues. Thankfully, reformers and social activists perpetually petitioned the wealthy, business owners who profited off of the poor and formed unions to battle unfair working conditions. The city of Manchester is thus illustrated as multi-dimensional in the realms of social, political, industrial, economic and environmental concerns. 

Works Cited 

Williams, Gwyndaf. "Manchester." Cities 13.3 (1996): 203-212.

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