Manchester is a city in Greater Manchester, England. It had a population of 552,000 in 2021. It is bordered by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and the neighbouring city of Salford to the west. The two cities and the surrounding towns form one of the United Kingdom’s most populous conurbations, the Greater Manchester Built-up Area, which has a population of 2.87 million.
Manchester was one of the centres of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. The great majority of cotton spinning took place in the towns of south Lancashire and north Cheshire, and Manchester was for a time the most productive centre of cotton processing.
Manchester became known as the world’s largest marketplace for cotton goods and was dubbed “Cottonopolis” and “Warehouse City” during the Victorian era. In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the term “manchester” is still used for household linen: sheets, pillow cases, towels, etc.
Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world’s first inter-city passenger railway station and the world’s first purpose-built passenger and goods railway station and served as the Manchester terminus on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. It is still extant and its buildings form part of the Science & Industry Museum.
Today, the city is well served by its rail network although it is now working to capacity, and is at the centre of an extensive county-wide railway network, including the West Coast Main Line, with two mainline stations: Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria. The Manchester station group – comprising Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate – is the third busiest in the United Kingdom, with 44.9 million passengers recorded in 2017/2018. The High Speed 2 link to Birmingham and London is also planned, which if built will include a 12 km (7 miles) tunnel under Manchester on the final approach into an upgraded Piccadilly station.
Manchester Airport serves Manchester, Northern England and North Wales. The airport is the third busiest in the United Kingdom, with over double the number of annual passengers of the next busiest non-London airport. Services cover many destinations in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (with more destinations from Manchester than any other airport in Britain). A second runway was opened in 2001 and there have been continued terminal improvements. The airport has the highest rating available: “Category 10”, encompassing an elite group of airports able to handle “Code F” aircraft, including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8. From September 2010 the airport became one of only 17 airports in the world and the only UK airport other than Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport to operate the Airbus A380.
There are three universities in the City of Manchester. The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Royal Northern College of Music. The University of Manchester is the second largest full-time non-collegiate university in the United Kingdom, created in 2004 by the merger of Victoria University of Manchester, founded in 1904, and UMIST, founded in 1956, having developed from the Mechanics’ Institute founded, as indicated in the university’s logo, in 1824. The University of Manchester includes the Manchester Business School, which offered the first MBA course in the UK in 1965.
Bands that have emerged from the Manchester music scene include Van der Graaf Generator, Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division and its successor group New Order, Buzzcocks and The Stone Roses.
At the University of Manchester, Ernest Rutherford first split the atom in 1917, Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill developed the world’s first stored-program computer in 1948, and Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov isolated the first graphene in 2004.
Two Premier League football clubs bear the city’s name – Manchester City and Manchester United. Manchester City’s home is the City of Manchester Stadium in Bradford in east Manchester, built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and then reconfigured as a football ground. Manchester United play home games at Old Trafford, the largest club ground in the United Kingdom – although this is not located within the City of Manchester and is in the neighbouring metropolitan borough of Trafford. Lancashire County Cricket Club also plays in Trafford at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and regularly hosts international test matches.
The city is notable for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections.