Looking for interesting facts about Manchester?
The UK’s third largest city after London and Birmingham, Manchester is a globally-famous city due to its rich industrial heritage, creative talent, and footballing legacy.
The city known as Manc is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and has dramatically changed the world in many ways – through science, technology, industry, transport, music, and sport.
Manchester is bursting with a wealth of history, arts, culture, and pioneering ideologies borne from the working classes, including social impact, vegetarianism, the indie music scene, and LGBTQ+ culture.
Did you know: Manchester was the first city in the world to commemorate its LGBT past by commissioning a local artist to set rainbow tiles into flagstones across the city, marking historical LGBT places of interest.
In this post you’ll find 66 of the most fun, incredible and lesser-known facts about one of my favorite cities, Manchester.
Table of Contents
66 Fun and Obscure Facts about Manchester, UK
A guide to the most fascinating and strange facts about Manchester, geography, culture, inventions, and history about Manchester.
17 General Facts about Manchester
Below are 17 of the most popular facts and general trivia about Manchester.
#1. The third largest urban area in the UK
Greater Manchester Metropolitan county has a population of 2.8 million and sits just below West Midlands (Birmingham), and Greater London, the UK’s largest urban area. (Source: City Monitor)
#2. Manchester was actually named after ‘Breast shaped hills’
The city was established by the Romans in 79 AD as Mamucium, meaning ‘Breast shaped hills’. Later on, the Normans arrived and established a new settlement. All Norman settlements in Britain were named using the word ‘chester’ – so any town in the UK that has chester in its name was a Norman settlement at some point. They kept the original name as a base and added chester at the end and thus, the city became Manchester.
#3. Manchester is known as the “Gateway to the North” of England
#4. Peaky Blinders was filmed in Manchester
The popular TV series is set in Birmingham but many of the scenes were actually shot in Manchester and Liverpool. Due to its industrial background, Manchester was the perfect setting for some of the scenes, particularly the canal scenes which were filmed in Castlefield. The most recent shooting of the new series was in March 2021 where Tommy Shelby, Arthur and Lizzie were spotted on set.
#5. People from Manchester are called Mancunians
They’re also known as ‘Mancs’, and these terms both originate from the Latin name of the city Mancunium (a variant of the Brittonic name Mamucium).
#6. Rolls Royce was founded in The Midland Hotel
Located near St. Peters Square, The Midland Hotel is the most famous hotel in Manchester. In 1904 Charles Rolls and Henry Royce met here and two years later the company Rolls-Royce Ltd was formed.
Rolls Royce Merlin engines also powered the legendary RAF Spitfire planes that helped win the Battle of Britain and defeat the Nazis in World War 2.
Rumor has it that The Midland Hotel was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite English buildings, in fact he was so enamored with the beauty of the building that it’s been claimed he planned to establish a Third Reich HQ in the city and ordered the Luftwaffe to avoid bombing it during the Blitz. Whether it’s all true is difficult to verify, but it’s been widely discussed.
#7. The Curry Mile has the biggest concentration of South Asian restaurants outside Asia
Situated on Wilmslow Road in Rusholme, the Curry Mile is actually half a mile long, yet here you’ll find all kinds of Asian restaurants, shops and food markets, from Indian, Pakistani, Afghan and Middle Eastern, so much so it is known as the largest concentration of South Asian restaurants outside the Asian continent. It’s an excellent place to grab a cheap and delicious meal.
#8. Salford, Manchester, is the birthplace of Vegetarianism
Another fascinating fact is that the vegetarian movement began in borough of Salford in 1809, inspired by the sermons of Reverend William Cowherd.
The (ironically-named) Beefsteak Chapel in Salford was the first vegetarian church in the UK and the first modern organisation not to eat meat.
Visitors can go on a cookery course at the Cordon Vert Schools, the headquarters of The Vegetarian Society.
#9. The birthplace of the world’s first professional football league
Being home to two of the biggest football clubs on the planet (and perhaps the most famous club), it’s no surprise that the world’s first professional football league was set up here in Manchester, at the Royal Hotel in 1888. The city is home to two Premiership football teams: Manchester United and Manchester City. If you’re a football fan, be sure to include a visit to the National Football Museum.
#10. Manchester Airport is the largest regional airport in the UK
The airport also has over 200 direct connections across Europe and serves over 23 million passengers each year.
#11. The New Union Pub is one of the oldest LGBT venues in the world
Manchester is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, in fact it has been for some time. The New Union Pub, in the city’s Gay Village district, was already putting on drag shows during World War 2, 12 years before Alan Turing was prosecuted for being gay.
#12. The oldest public library in the English speaking world opened in Manchester
Chetham’s Library, near Victoria Station, was the first free library in the UK opened to the public. It has been in continuous use since 1653 and holds 100,000 books, including 60,000 published before 1851. Be sure to stop by for a visit at the beautiful building and learn more about this incredible piece of history. Open Monday to Friday, Chetham’s Library even offer tours.
#13. Until 2019 there was no statue of a woman (except Queen Victoria)
Yes, this is despite the fact Manchester has always been the place where women could be free, and where the Suffragettes movement began. In St. Peter’s Square you’ll find the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, the iconic leader and founder of the Suffragette Movement.
#14. Over 100 languages are spoken in Manchester
English is the most common language in the city followed by South Asian languages such as Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali, then Polish. However, many more languages are also spoken according to Nomis, the spectrum ranges from just one speaker to over six thousand speakers.
#15. Vimto was invented in Manchester
The UK’s beloved Vimto drink, a carbonated drink with blackcurrant, raspberry, grape, herbs and spices, was invented here in 1908.
#16. Manchester Tart is the city’s signature dish
Made with jam, custard, a pinch of coconut, and a cherry on top – not only beautiful but delicious too! Other signature dishes include the Lancashire hot pot (as popularized by Coronation Street), rag pudding, and “Manchester caviar” (it’s just mushy peas).
#17. Manchester consistently ranks best city to live in the UK
According to The Economist’s Global Liveability Survey published every year, which ranks the living conditions of 140 cities around the world, Manchester has been consistently voted number one in the UK.
6 Random and Weird Facts about Manchester
Here are some strange facts and weird things in Manchester that you probably never heard of.
#18. The Town Hall features a snake eating its own tail
On the ceiling at the main entrance of Manchester’s magnificent Town Hall there’s a snake trying to eat its own tail. Known a s’Ouroboros’, it’s an ancient pagan icon symbolising the eternal cycle of life. You can book a sightseeing bus tour of the city here.
#19. You can be part of a real-life detective game in Manchester
Each year Manchester hosts a unique outdoor experience by CluedUpp Games where anyone can take part in a real-life detective game a la CSI Manchester – the whole city is considered the playing ground and over a million people participate in it! Book your tickets here.
#20. The ‘Car-puccino’ was born in Manchester
In 2010 Manchester witnessed the birth of the ‘car-puccino’ – the first car to travel from Manchester to London fueled solely by coffee beans, requiring around 11,000 espresso shots.
#21. The only place on earth here you can graduate in ‘Mummy Studies’
The University of Manchester is the only university in the world where you can get a degree in ‘Mummy Studies’.
#22. The John Rylands Research & Institute and Library on Deansgate in Manchester is said to have major “Harry Potter” vibes.
#23. You can drink a pint in an old Victorian toilet
The Temple is a small underground pub situated not far from St. Peter’s Square that has been built in an old Victorian toilet. On arrival it looks like a metro entrance but as Manchester does not have an underground train system, you’ll soon realise it’s not what it seems.
10 Manchester History Facts
Now we have some history about Manchester, its origins and heritage that make it the city it is today.
#24. Manchester was established as an official town in 1301
It wasn’t until 1851 however, that Manchester gained city status, due to the immense prosperity of its cotton industries, and swelling to a population of 300,000.
#25. The Manchester Guardian was founded in 1821
Now called simply The Guardian, it is one of the world’s leading news publishers.
#26. The world’s first passenger railway line opened in 1830
In September 1830, the world’s first ever passenger railway line connected Liverpool’s Crown Street to Manchester’s Liverpool Road, influencing the development of major railway systems across Britain.
Built by George Stephenson, it was the first to rely on steam-powered locomotives, and the first to be entirely double-tracked, use a signalling system, have a timetable, and carry mail.
The success of the Manchester to Liverpool railway kickstarted the railway revolution. Visitors can delve into the history onboard a steam engine travelling along a short piece of this very track at the Science and Industry Museum.
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#27. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894
Construction began in 1887, and on opening it was the largest river navigation canal in the world at the time, connecting Manchester to the Irish Sea near Liverpool.
#28. The Suffragette movement was born in Manchester
In 1903 Mancunian Emmeline Pankhurst found the Women’s Social and Political Union, later known as the Suffragettes. Emmeline dedicated her life to the campaign for women’s votes and the Pankhurst Centre, previously her home, displays the work and struggle of the women Suffragettes.
#29. The world’s first stored programme and memory computer
In 1948 the first-ever electronic, stored-program computer was designed and built by professors at the University of Manchester. Nicknamed ‘Baby’, it has made the computer what it is today. Baby weighs approx 500kg and is on display at the Science and Industry Museum.
The MOSI is situated on Liverpool Road and is open Wednesday to Sunday. It’s one of the best free things to do in Manchester and definitely worth your time if you’re in the city.
#30. The UK’s first city to have a modern tram system
Manchester was the first city in the United Kingdom to have a modern tram system when the Manchester Metrolink opened in 1992.
#31. In 2004 the first graphene was created at the University of Manchester
Kostyra Novoselov and Andre Geim isolated the first graphene, a sheet of carbon just one-atom thick, which won them a Nobel prize.
#32. Andy Burnham was elected as the first mayor of Greater Manchester in 2017
Three years earlier in November 2014 it was announced that the city would receive its first ever directly elected mayor.
#33. In 2017 UNESCO recognised Manchester as a City of Literature
8 Science and Technology Facts about Manchester
Next, we have some interesting Manchester facts linked to ground-breaking inventions and innovations, and scientific advances that make Manchester a truly pioneering city.
#34. Manchester started the Industrial Revolution
Perhaps the most famous fact about Manchester: it’s the city where the Industrial Revolution began and is the world’s first proper industrial city.
The opening of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761 to transport coal from the mines in Worsley to Manchester marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Manchester was a picturesque market town, with a population spread across only a small number of streets.
The invention of steam power and the demand for cotton and coal changed all that, and rocketed Manchester to the forefront of the global textile industry. The city grew at an astounding rate, its booming economy attracting migrants from all over the UK, and in 1853 Manchester was granted city status.
#35. The Manchester Bee has been the city’s icon since the 19th Century
You may have spotted the iconic Bee painted on Manchester’s buildings and street furniture, or displayed on the back of cars, but not many people know that this symbol was adopted by Manchester way back in the 19th Century. The Manchester Bee symbolises the industrious nature of the city and its people. You can even find it within the impressive mosaic floor in Manchester’s Town Hall.
#36. Manchester was known as “Cottonopolis” in 19th century
During the industrial revolution Manchester expanded at an astonishing pace, and with the arrival of the world’s first steam-powered textile mill and mechanisation, many cotton mills began to open around the city, peaking at 108 in 1853.
The city is conveniently located by a short railway link to the ports of Liverpool (the world’s largest port city at the time), with cotton being delivered from there, along with numerous innovative inventions, Manchester became the place where 80% of the world’s cotton was manufactured.
Everything that had to do with cotton – warehouses, cotton exchange, textile transformation, was happening in Manchester, hence the nickname: “Cottonopolis”.
#37. The University of Manchester boasts 25 Nobel prizes
Ranked the third best university in the country, after Oxford and Cambridge, the University of Manchester lays claim to 25 Nobel laureates amongst their staff, students and alumni. They include Joseph John Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, James Chadwick, Arthur Harden, and more.
#38. Manchester is where the atom was split for the first time
Manchester is famed for its world-leading universities where many famous professors worked (and still work) as well as many alumni who went on to accomplish big things. Physics and Chemistry are two areas the city leads the world in. The first time that the atom was split happened at Manchester University and was realized by Ernest Rutherford in 1917, whilst teaching at the university. After taking the position of Chair of Physics in 1907, he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry a year later. This major breakthrough changed the world in many ways as it paved the way for development of nuclear power and radiotherapy.
#39. Alan Turing, who broke the Enigma Code, worked in Manchester
Considered the father of modern computing, Alan Turing is famous for having decrypted the German Enigma code, which is understood to have shortened WW2 by two years and was crucial in helping the Allies win the war.
Turing also taught at the University of Manchester, and became a symbol of the LGBT community in the city. His work during the war years has been highlighted in the movie Imitation Game, where Turing is played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Turing was a gay man and in 1952 he was arrested for being a homosexual which at the time was illegal. His conviction prevented him from working for the government, and at the age of 41, sadly, Turing took his own life by cyanide poisoning. In May 2012, a bill was passed and the following year Turing received a Royal Pardon from the Queen.
Alan Turing features on the new £50 banknote that entered circulation in 2021.
#41. Australians, Kiwis, and South Africans still call textile departments the ‘Manchester department’
If you’re in Australia, New Zealand or South Africa and are looking for any kind of textiles be it bedsheets, duvet covers or similar, you’ll be sent to the Manchester department of the store. This is due to the fact that textiles used to be shipped to those countries in containers loaded with boxes that had “Manchester” written on them, hence the assimilation.
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6 Music Facts about Manchester
Here are some fascinating Manchester music facts and why the city is a leader in popular music.
#42. Arguably the most important British concert ever
On 4th June 1976 following an invitation by Manchester band Buzzcocks, London’s punk band The Sex Pistols performed at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. This concerts since gone down in music history as one of the most important British gigs ever.
Tickets were sold for 50p and only 42 people went to that show, although many more claim to have been there. The venue wasn’t even a third of capacity, yet the impact of the show inspired the audience who then went on to create their own mark on the music industry.
Amongst those that attended the gig were bands like The Smiths, Joy Division, Magazine, and The Fall. Others in the audience included big industry names like Tony Wilson, future owner of Manchester nightclub, The Hacienda and Factory Records. The Hacienda and Factory Records.
#43. Home to some of the world’s biggest bands
Music is a very important part of Mancunian culture. Numerous world-famous bands were formed in the city, including Oasis, The Smiths, The Chemical Brothers, Take That, and many more.
Other bands from Greater Manchester include The Buzzcocks, The Happy Mondays, The Blossoms, The Courteneers, and The Verve.
#44. Manchester is the birthplace of Indie Music
The city is officially the birthplace of indie music, having produced seminal bands such as Simply Red, The Hollies, Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses, and more.
#45. The Bee Gees brothers were raised in Manchester
The Gibb brothers are world-famous for their domination of the global music scene throughout the 70s, and it was in Manchester where they grew up, having moved there from the Isle of Man at an early age. Moreover, rock legend Lemmy from Motorhead started his career in the city in the early 60s, playing in bands while living in Stockport and Wythenshawe.
#46. Manchester is famous for its legendary, buzzing nightlife
Countless legendary nightclubs have opened and closed over the decades with some of the most prominent including The Hacienda, The Twisted Wheel, The Boardwalk, Sankys Soap, Discotheque Royale, The Banshee and Jilly’s Rockworld to name but a few.
5 Media, Film, and TV Facts about Manchester
Some lesser-known facts about Manchester’s influential role in the global media, film and TV industry.
#47. MediaCity leads the UK’s digital industrial revolution, bringing in £5bn+ GDP a year
Manchester is officially the UK’s top Digital Tech City. The digital landscape and eco-system in Greater Manchester turns over a whopping £5 billion GBP per annum and expanding. On top of that, the city is home to more than 10,000 digital and tech businesses. These range from start-ups and SMEs to large global players such as Cisco, Google, Microsoft and IBM.
Below is an excellent video by The B1M explaining how Manchester reversed its industrial decline and has become one of Europe’s top creative capitals:
#48. The New York scenes of ‘The Crown’ were filmed in Northern Quarter
Did you know Manchester is often used as a movie set instead of New York? It’s a well-known Manchester fact but was truly highlighted when season 4 of The Crown aired.
With all those old warehouses and small alleyways, it certainly has a New York vibe and is much cheaper for British and European productions to film in Manchester than flying an entire crew across the Atlantic.
The filming of 2011’s Marvel’s comic book adaptation Captain America: The First Avenger took place in Manchester. Much of the film was shot in the UK around Dale Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It was chosen as the buildings closely resembled 1940s New York City. Some parts of the movie were also filmed in Stanley Dock over in Liverpool.
#49. Manchester has also been used in the filming of Peaky Blinders, Queer as Folk Shameless, The Royal Family, Cold Feet, Life on Mars, Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, 24 Hour Party People, and The 51st State.
#50. Manchester is home to the world’s longest running TV soap opera.
Manchester is home to the Coronation Street, world’s longest running TV soap opera – Coronation Street. It first aired on December 9th 1960, it has been on TV screens every week, ever since. The set is located at the ITV Trafford Wharf Studios in Mediacity.
#51. Bill Roache is the world’s longest serving TV actor
Moreover, Coronation Street’s longest-serving actor Bill Roache, who has played Ken Barlow on the soap since the very first episode, holds the world record as the longest serving TV actor!
14 Football Facts about Manchester
Lastly, we have some fun football facts about Manchester that make this city truly the most famous footballing city on the planet.
#52. The two rival sides enjoy roughly equal popularity in the city
But worldwide Manchester United FC is much more popular.
Facts about Manchester United
- Manchester United FC is considered the most successful football club in England. They’ve won 20 League titles (more than any other team), as well as 12 FA Cups and 3 European Cups.
- According to a global survey, 1 in 10 people in the world is a Manchester United fan.
- Manchester United is nicknamed the “Red Devils” and their home kit is the red jersey.
- Man United’s Wayne Rooney is England’s top goal scorer of all time. Bobby Charlton (who also played for MUFC), is England’s third highest goal scorer.
- Manchester United was the first team to ever win the European Cup, and the first to win a ‘treble’ (three trophies in one season – Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League), in 1999.
- Manchester United holds the title for the most consecutive season wins, winning in 1999, 2000, and 2001, and again in 2007, 2008, and 2009.
- Ryan Giggs is considered one of the best Manchester United players of all time. He has the most Premier League assists (162), goals in the most seasons (20), and most medals/wins (13).
- Manchester United’s home stadium, Old Trafford (nicknamed the ‘Theatre of Dreams’), is the UK’s second largest football stadium after London’s Wembley.
Facts about Manchester City
- Manchester City FC is nicknamed “The Citizens”, “The Sky Blues”, or simply “City”, and their home kit is the blue jersey.
- Manchester City’s stadium, the Etihad Stadium (named after its sponsorship by the UAE airline), was first constructed for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
- Man City’s old stadium, Maine Road, hosted the second-highest attendance of any football game in England’s history, 84,569 people, in 1934. It was surpassed by Wembley (85,512 people) in 2016.
- Manchester City holds the record for most Premier League points in a Season, 100.
- MCFC’s John Burridge was the oldest Premier League player ever, retiring at the age of 43.
Manchester Wiki Facts: General Information
More information, statistics and general facts about Manchester, UK, updated as of 2023:
- Land area: 630.3 km2 (243.4 sq miles)
- Founded: 1 AD by The Romans
- City Status: 1853
- Sovereign State: United Kingdom
- Country: England
- Total Population: 2,747,000 (2nd in UK)
- Life expectancy: 80.3 years (female), 76.4 years (male).
- Currency: GBP Pound Sterling
- Ethnicity: 66.7% White, 14.4% Asian, 8.6% Black, 4.7% Mixed, 2.7% Chinese, 3.1% Other
- Boroughs: 10 Boroughs: Manchester City, Salford City, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan
- Mayor: Andy Burnham
- Lord Mayor: Abid Latif Chohan
- GDP: £92.3 billion
- GDP per capita: £31,129
- Official Website: manchester.gov.uk
- Time zone: UTC 0 (Greenwich Mean Time)
- Country code: GBR
- Driving side: left
- Main railway stations: Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Victoria,
- Airport: Manchester Airport (MAN)
- Postcode area: M
- Dialling Code: 0151
- Weather: lowest: 3C (winter) peak: 20C (summer)
- Famous residents: Liam and Noel Gallagher (musicians), Emmeline Pankhurst (suffragette), Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch (actors), Danny Boyle (director)
Below are the most commonly-asked questions about Manchester.
Here’s 10 Facts about Manchester:
Manchester was named after ‘breast shaped hills’ by the Romans.
The city residents are known as Mancunians.
The world’s first passenger railway line opened in Manchester in 1830.
The Curry Mile has the biggest concentration of South-Asian restaurants outside of Asia.
Hit TV show Peaky Blinders was filmed in Manchester.
Manchester is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
The world’s first professional football league was established in Manchester.
The city is home to some of the world’s biggest music bands and artists.
The Suffragette movement was born in Manchester.
Manchester is where the atom was split for the first time.
Manchester is the birthplace of the world’s first professional football league. Being home to two of the biggest football clubs on the planet (and arguably the most famous club), it’s no surprise that the world’s first professional football league was set up here in Manchester, at the Royal Hotel in 1888. The city is home to two Premiership football teams: Manchester United and Manchester City.
The city is famous for its scientific and engineering accomplishments and has a lasting legacy as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It is also known for its architecture, culture, music, media links, social impact and football clubs.
10 things Manchester is famous for:
The Industrial Revolution
World’s First Passenger Railway Line
The Textiles Industry
Manchester United and Manchester City
The Suffragette Movement
The Modern Boyband
The Oldest English-Speaking Library
The city was established by the Romans in 79 AD as Mamucium, meaning ‘Breast shaped hills’. Later on, the Normans arrived and established a new settlement. All Norman settlements in Britain were named with the word ‘chester’. Thus, they added chester at the end and the city became Manchester.
John Kay’s Fly Shuttle, 1733
Britain’s first canal: the Bridgewater, 1761
Atomic Theory, 1803
First Passenger Railway, 1830
The First Submarine, 1878
Competitive Football, 1888
The Suffragette Movement, 1903
Rolls Royce, 1904
Splitting of the Atom, 1917
The First Stored Programme and Memory Computer, 1948
The First Graphene, 2004
Manchester Tart is the city’s signature dish, made with jam, custard, a pinch of coconut, and a cherry on top – not only beautiful but delicious too! Other signature dishes include the Lancashire hot pot (as popularized by Coronation Street), rag pudding, and “Manchester caviar” (it’s just mushy peas).
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So there you have it – 66 of the most obscure, interesting, and fun facts about Manchester, UK. I hope you find this post an interesting read, and that it inspires you to visit this wonderful city some day!
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