3 Industries That Thrived in Manchester


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Manchester is a proud and industrious city well known for its role in the industrial revolution. Mancunians shaped the development of a new social and industrial order in the United Kingdom. It was said to be the first truly industrial city. These days, industry has largely moved away from the Northwest of England. The destruction of vast factory chimneys by Fred Dibnah – captured for posterity by television cameras in the 1970s – was symbolic of the demise of Norther English heavy industry. Maggie Thatcher put the final nails in the coffin by dismantling union power and failing to plan for regional development in the North thanks to a belief in capital-driven progress.

3 Industries That Thrived in Manchester

Manchester once had a varied industrial sector. Here are 3 of the most important industries that flourished in the city.


Manchester once had a thriving automotive industry, which saw its heyday in the years before 1918. Leyland was one of the most successful commercial vehicle manufacturers in the country, while cars and motorbikes were produced by multiple machine ships in the city. These days, Manchester’s automotive industry is largely restricted to the sale and brokerage of vehicles. Companies offering a variety of used cars Manchester are still finding lots of success, but the cars they sell are manufactured elsewhere.

Cotton Milling

Cotton was the material that really drove the rise of Manchester as an industrial powerhouse. The city was once known as ‘Cottonopolis’ and boasted hundreds of mills that used the latest steam and loom technology to process and weave raw cotton harvested in the Americas. Unfortunately, Manchester was so reliant on the cotton industry during the 19th Century that shortages of the raw plant caused by the American Civil War led to the Manchester Cotton Drought, which led to huge quantities of destitution and death. Nevertheless, cotton milling was a way of life for generations of working-class Mancunians. Whole families worked together in the mills.


Although the United Kingdom is no longer a powerhouse in the world of computing, it certainly had a huge impact on the global development of the field. Manchester was at the heart of this contribution. The story begins in the early 19th Century when the technology of the Jacquard loom spread to the UK from France. The Jacquard loom was a device that used printed cards to ‘program’ patterns into a looming system. Mancunian industrialists adopted this device and developed a thriving pattern weaving business. The punch card system employed by the loom inspired Manchester’s inventors – it led indirectly to the development of programming languages. It was the first example of a binary code.

Manchester’s contributions to computing took off during the 1940’s. Alan Turing, the legendary computer scientist, inventor, and theorist, worked out of Manchester University. Likewise, the Manchester series of computers was the first commercially viable computing machine developed from 1948 onwards. The binary code pioneered by the Jacques loom was the language of these computers, directly linking Manchester’s milling trade to its computing trade.


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