Manchester, England, one of the leading cities in Great Britain. It is in northwestern England, some 30 miles (48 km) east of Liverpool and the Irish Sea. Occupying 43 square miles (111 km2), Manchester forms the core of the heavily populated metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. Until 1974, Manchester was a part of Lancashire.
Manchester played an important role in the Industrial Revolution, and manufacturing remains a major economic activity. Among the goods produced in or near the city are textiles, machine tools, electrical equipment, chemicals, processed foods, and clothing. Banking and insurance are major commercial activities.
Manchester's docks handle a significant, though declining, part of England's maritime shipping. The 36-mile (58-km) Manchester Ship Canal leads to the Mersey River near its outlet on the Irish Sea. The city is a railway junction and has an international airport.
Manchester is the seat of an Anglican bishopric. Near the Town Hall is the City Art Gallery, which possesses one of the largest art collections in Britain outside London. The Lowry, a complex of theaters, art galleries, shops, and restaurants, is located on the Salford Quays. Manchester is also noted for the Victoria University of Manchester; commonly called the University of Manchester; the John Rylands Library, which is now a part of the university; the Hallé Orchestra (named after its founder, Karl Hallé); and the Royal Northern College of Music. The Manchester Institute of Science and Technology is affiliated with the University of Manchester.
The Romans built a military post, called Mancunium, on the site of Manchester in the 1st century A.D. Gradually a settlement grew up around the post, but remained small for more than a thousand years. By the 15th century Manchester had become a market town and held an annual fair. It also had become a center for the making of textiles, especially woolens.
The 18th and 19th centuries brought a period of increasing prosperity based on the weaving of textiles, mainly cottons. With newly invented machinery, plentiful supplies of coal nearby, and easy access to domestic markets and the port of Liverpool, Manchester became the world's leading producer of textiles. As the city became industrialized, its workers were crowded into housing that developed into some of the most extensive and worst slums in Britain.
German bombing raids during World War II severely damaged Manchester, especially the central section and the industrial areas. During the postwar era many of the slums were replaced by new housing and other structures. The city's population has declined substantially since the war.
Population (district): 392,816.