However, it was not until the 18th century that this hitherto remote and inconspicuous little medieval township sprang into the forefront of world attention, and not until the mid-19th century that it became a city. Actually, it was the neighbouring City of Salford, located immediately opposite across the River Irwell, that dominated the region, Manchester was at that time little more than an outlying suburb.
In fact, the Salford Hundred, of which the city was its administrative hub, covered all lands between the River Ribble to the north and the Mersey to the south, so important and valuable a possession that to this day the sovereign owns and bears the title of Lord of the Manor of Salford. Not until the 19th century, after many protests and petitions to parliament, notably by the Chartists, did Manchester gain the status of a city.
Reason to Be Selected
Steam power drove the Victorian city, with water from the many local rivers like the Irwell, Medlock, Irk and Tame, and coal from Worsley via the Duke of Egerton's Bridgewater Canal to Castlefield, or other coal pits around Wigan. A network of newly cut and navigable canals enabled the efficient transportation of raw materials and manufactured goods right into the heart of the city.
Even today, Manchester is marked by its many fine surviving warehouses (now mostly ressurected as hotels and executive apartments) and mills (now frequently relegated to small industrial units). It held onto its reputation as the prime source of world textiles until its decline in the 1950s, when cheaper foreign import of cotton from India sounded the death knell for the region's pre-eminence.
In the 1970s, the concept of Greater Manchester was born - a still controversial grouping of 8 boroughs and 2 cities, which were subsumed into one large administrative connurbation, the Metropolitan County of Greater Manchester.Manchester and Salford already existed as cities in their own right. Two other boroughs, Tameside and Trafford, were newly created (again, quite controversially) for the purpose, while other former County Boroughs like Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Wigan and Rochdale (in Lancashire) and Stockport (in Cheshire) lost their administrative independence to a large degree to the new Metropolitan County.These Metropolitan Boroughs are connected by the Manchester Orbital Motorway, the M60, as well as the ever more extensive Metrolink Tram System and two major mainline railway stations. Internationally, Manchester connects to the rest of the world by a major Airport.
This fabricated county, paradoxically existing still in name but with less than intended powers and authority, still produces more than half of Britain's manufactured goods and consumables, though manufacturing continues its steady decline.
The Greater Manchester conurbation is a big place. While some 2½ million people live within its actual boundaries, over 7 million others live in the wider region, making it second only to London in Great Britain - Manchester still vies with Birmingham for the title of England Second City!
For 11 million people living within 50 miles of the City of Manchester, it is the place where they come to work, or to shop or to visit the many attractions and entertainments which only a large dynamic city such as this could hope to offer.