The city of Manchester has its own unique history and culture. Within a span of a century, this town has become an industrial centre. It even has the world's first public library and passenger railway station. The Spinning Jenny was invented here and so was the first computer.
Roman TimesThe name of the city originated from the word 'Mamucium', which is what it was called during the Roman times. Around 79 AD a wooden fort was built by the Romans at the spot where the rivers Irwell and Medlock confluence. The name is a Celtic word, which means "a breast-shaped hill".
Later, this fort was re-built with stone. The placement of this fort was quite strategic for the Romans because it guarded a road with which the river Irwell could be crossed, leading towards the North.
It was around this fort that a settlement soon began to get established. These Roman troops were mostly mercenaries from different parts of the world. Several finds have been made which include a Mithraic temple and even a rare Christian word square (these are considered to be anagrams with which Christian groups recognised each other). You can find these at the Manchester Museum.
Saxon TimesIn the Dark Ages, this fort was abandoned by the Romans. In the Saxon times, the settlement shifted to where the rivers Irwell and Irk confluence. Edward the Elder is said to have sent men to take care of the fort because it still served its strategic purpose.
The name of Mamucium then became the Anglo-Saxon Mameceaster which later on became Manchester. In later years, the fort decayed. In the 18th century, a railway line was built over it.
This settlement was largely destroyed by William the Conqueror in his Harrying of the North. Roger the Poitevan gave the 'Honour of Manchester' to the De Gredley family. The word 'Honour' implies a collection of manors in the area where Manchester was the centre for administrative purposes. They and their descendants used Manchester as a hunting lodge.
Manchester was also a part of Salfordshire at one point. But due to some administrative issues, it was separated from Salford and was issued another charter.
Manchester gained its right to hold an annual fair in 1223 and in 1301 it became a market town by gaining its first charter.
In the 14th century, Flemish weavers settled in Manchester and the town began to produce wool and linen. Based on the prosperity brought on by the wool trade, the town became a major industrial centre. Thomas de la Warre who was the Lord of the Manor of Manchester as well as a priest, got the Pope's and King Henry V's licence for constructing a collegiate church. This later became the Manchester Cathedral.
In the 16th century, Manchester was an established industrial centre and its wool trade flourished. Fustian weaving techniques also began to ensure that it became a hub for the textile industry.
In the 17th century, Manchester became a centre of Puritanism. It was a major player in the English civil war.
After the civil war, Humphrey Chetham bought the old College buildings and converted them into a school. There was a collection of books which became the first free public library. It is open and free to use even today.
Industrial RevolutionIn the latter part of the 18th century, Manchester became the centre for the Industrial Revolution. Cotton began to be imported and this resulted in a large boom in the textile industry. The city developed as a centre for distribution of raw cotton and spun yarn. In 1767, the spinning jenny was invented in Manchester. With the onset of steam powered cotton mills spreading all over the town, the city of Manchester began to be called 'Cottonopolis'.
Consequently, the transportation links to and from the city were developed. A railway line was built. The city's population grew and exploded. A system of 'laissez-faire' trading was adopted (which is the basis of free trade in today's world).
The end of the 18th century however saw a recession in the cotton trade industry. This caused many riots and several measures were undertaken to provide food for the hungry masses.
Towards the beginning of the 19th Century, Manchester had its own newspaper called 'The Manchester Guardian' and its first MPs were elected. In 1837, Manchester became a Municipal Borough.
In the Twentieth CenturyThe early part of the 20th century was witness to the entry of other industries into Manchester. Some of them were flour mills, making of biscuits and cereals. Also the Tourism became an interesting part of Manchester's profile. During World War II, engineering industries thrived and prospered.
In 1992, Manchester saw the birth of the metro-link trams. The later part of the 20th century also saw Manchester become a booming retail centre with several shopping malls and shopping centres opening and thriving.