The Location of the City of Manchester, England

The image above by "Watson in Manchester" comes from Wikimedia Commons where it has been placed into the public domain.

The city of Manchester is located 190 miles north west of the English capital, London. It lies some 30 miles inland on relatively flat ground backed in the north and east by the Pennine hills.  From earliest times it has been at the centre of north-soth and east-west transportation routes.  The Romans built a fort here where their roads from York to Chester and from Ribchester to Hadrian's Wall intersected.  They chose a site beside the River Irwell and they gave that fort the name Mamucium.

A number of important rivers flow south and west out of the hills providing the city and its satellites with water and power.  The humid climate combined with the availability of water power led to the development of a textile industry. 

The water was an important resource in the production of and dying of textiles.  The humid air made it possible to spin fragile threads. 

As water was replaced by steam power the textile industry moved from a rural to an urban setting and in Manchester, and the towns that surrounded it, large cotton mills sprang up changing the landscape for decades to follow.

Manchester became known as Cottonopolis as the textile trade became its main source of income but the British climate didn't support the growth of cotton so for Manchester to become successful it was necessary for it to build upon its natural advantages regarding transportation.

First came turnpike roads replacing the pack-horse tracks, then the narrow and broad canals and in the 1840s the railway.  This made it possible for raw material to move around the country and finished materials to reach markets but Manchester's land-locked position was seen in the 19th Century as an impediment to it reaching its potential.  The solution was the construction of a 36 mile navigation capable of accommodating ocean-going ships.  Known affectionately as The Big Ditch, the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894 and for much of the 20th Century Manchester was an important "sea-port"

The canal terminated in Old Trafford and around it an extensive dock developed and taking advantage of the easy transportation system industries grew up in Trafford Park.

Today the the textile industry and many other industries have moved overseas.  The advent of containers and the creation of huge container ports on the coast made the Port of Manchester uneconomic and now ocean going ships do not ply the canal.  Just as the canal was the secret to the success of the city the changes that have occurred around it are reflective of the changes in the city's fortune.  Today motorways, railways and an International airport serve a city that has two major universities, a major financial community and a growing media centre.  Ironically, todays white collared office workers live in city centre apartments created by renovating Victorian cotton mills and warehouses.