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Manchester, An Industrial Icon

Febbraio 2020
Il progresso scientifico e tecnologico, la creatività musicale e le conquiste in campo sportivo hanno fatto di questa città industriale un centro di nuove idee e importanti movimenti politici e culturali.

di Alex Phillips

Manchester is a huge English city in the north, famous for its industrial past and radical ideas. In the 1800s, it became the most important cotton production town in the world with a massive population increase of working people. Home to the world’s first inter-city passenger railway station, inaugurated in 1830, Manchester’s development is reflected in its red brick buildings: Manchester Town Hall, built in the Gothic revival style, is one of the most important Victorian buildings in England.

THE WORKING CLASS

With the new working classes came united demands for political representation and rights. Labour conditions were often abusive, and Manchester was the scene of bread and labour riots. At the time, only a tiny percentage of men were allowed to vote in Britain, and most of the north, including Manchester, had no MP representing them at all. The Peterloo Massacre in 1819 saw cavalry charge into a peaceful crowd of up to 80,000 who had gathered to demand reform. It caused a national outcry.

RADICAL LITERATURE

Manchester played a key role in the history of left-wing politics, and today it is a UNESCO City of Literature known for its “radical literary history”. It has featured in works highlighting the changes that industrialisation brought, including Friedrich Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England (1844) and Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (1848). Learn more at the People’s History Museum, the national centre for material relating to the history of working people in the UK. Notably, too, Manchester’s Pankhurst Centre was the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst and the birthplace of the suffragette movement in 1903.

SCIENCE AND PROGRESS

A university town, Manchester has excelled in scientific advancement: in 1917, scientist Ernest Rutherford first split the atom here, and in 1948 one of the earliest computers was built here. Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum pays homage to these and other scientific achievements.

TROUBLED TIMES

Heavy industry suffered a downturn in Manchester from the 1960s, and was obliterated under the 1980s economic policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Regeneration began in the late 1980s, when Bridgewater Concert Hall and the Manchester Arena were built. The city centre was extensively regenerated in the 2000s.

INDIE MUSIC

Manchester is also world-famous for its indie music scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Associated bands include The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses and The Verve. Their music was promoted by infamous nightclub the Hacienda, developed by the founder of Factory Records, Tony Wilson; the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People tells his story. 2007’s Control is a fictional biographical reflection on the tragic life of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division. Learn more by taking a Manchester Music Tour, hosted by Craig Gill, founding member of Inspiral Carpets and a DJ at the Hacienda.   


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