During the past 200 hundred years the city of Manchester has been at the heart of almost every important aspect of British life.
It developed into one of the greatest industrial and commercial centres in the world, it established the first public bus services and the first locally owned airport and was one of the birthplaces of the motor car.
It was also the destination for our first commercial railway and the country’s most ambitious canal projects. The city has more than played an influential role in politics and the church and its sports venues and athletes have been second to none.
Manchester’s central area suffered as much as any city the horrors of the Second World War and 60 years on much of it stands as a beacon for urban life in the future. Its environs remain rather less salubrious and present a challenge for the future.
In a superbly illustrated new book, A History of Manchester, Stuart Hylton tells of the rich legacy of this hub of the north west, taking us initially right back to the establishment of Mancunium by the Romans.
Stuart takes us through the centuries, pointing out the connection between familiar landmarks of today with significant events of the past. And it’s fascinating to consider that once upon a time Blackley boasted a deep park, that Crumpsall was virtually bog and moor and Manchester had a castle – but no one knows where it stood.
Cities, however, are about people as well as places and here we find out about the towering achievements of the Mosleys, Halle, Chetham, C.P. Scott , Engels , Royce, A.V. Roe, Alcock and Brown and many others.
If the narrative is eye-opening so too are the pictures. The cathedral and the Shambles surrounded by bomb damage, the devastation of the Arndale Centre by the IRA, the first airport at Barton, the slums and the impoverished mill workers are particularly stunning.