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Home of the world’s first intercity passenger railway station and the place where scientists first split the atom, Manchester is a thriving city in the northwest of England, famous for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections.
Historically, Manchester was brought on by a boom in textile manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution and the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal, directly linking the city to the Irish Sea. Its fortune declined after World War II, owing to deindustrialisation, and the IRA bombing in 1996 led to extensive investment and regeneration. New and renovated complexes such as The Printworks, the Manchester Arndale and the Corn Exchange have become popular shopping, eating and entertainment destinations, and old mills have been converted into modern, luxury apartments. The 47-storey Beetham Tower is the tallest building in the UK outside London, and when it was built, it was the highest residential accommodation in the whole of Europe. Other interesting landmarks include Manchester Town Hall (considered one of the most important Victorian buildings in England), Heaton Park (one of the largest municipal parks in Europe), Manchester Cathedral and the cenotaph in St Peter’s Square (Manchester’s main memorial to its war dead).
Bands that have emerged from the Manchester music scene include Oasis, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Take That, Elbow, Simply Red and The Charlatans. The city’s main pop music venue is the Manchester Arena, along with a host of performance venues including the Manchester Opera House, the Palace Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre. The city’s museums celebrate its Roman history, rich industrial heritage and role in women’s suffrage. The Museum of Science and Industry has an impressive collection of steam locomotives, industrial machinery, aircraft and a replica of the first stored computer programme (known as the Manchester Baby), while the Manchester Museum offers notable Egyptology and natural history collections. For art lovers, there’s Manchester Art Gallery, which houses a permanent collection of European painting, and the Whitworth Art Gallery, which displays modern art, sculpture and textiles. The works of Stretford-born painter, L. S. Lowry, can be seen in both the city and Whitworth Manchester galleries, as well as the Lowry Art Centre based in Salford Quays.
Manchester is well-served by the rail network and is at the centre of an extensive countrywide railway network, with its two mainline stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria. The Manchester Metrolink is the largest tram system in the UK, with a total route length of 57 miles, while the city has one of the most impressive bus networks outside London. Manchester Airport and City Airport Manchester provide employment opportunities for city workers, and airport earnings are used to fund local projects. Manchester also has the largest UK office market outside London, which has been partly attributed to ‘northshoring’ – the relocation or creation of jobs away from the south to areas where office space is cheaper and the workforce market may not be as saturated... Great news for Manchester’s office workers! Furthermore, the night-time economy has expanded significantly in the last few decades, with investment from breweries, public houses and clubs, along with active support from the local authorities. There are more than 500 licensed premises in the city centre, supporting some 12,000 jobs.
There are three universities in Manchester – the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Royal Northern College of Music – grouped around Oxford Road on the southern side of the city centre. One of Manchester’s most notable secondary schools is the Manchester Grammar School, which was established in 1515. In the post-war period, it was a direct grant grammar school, but it reverted to independent status in 1976 after the abolition of the scheme. There are three other prestigious schools nearby – William Hulme’s Grammar School, Withington Girls’ School and Manchester High School for Girls.
Most of the property sales in Manchester over the past year were semi-detached properties, which on average sold for £221,594, while the overall average house price was £220,290. This reflects an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year.
A discussion of Manchester is not complete without mentioning its huge footballing tradition. It has two clubs that bear the city name – Manchester City and Manchester United – and their supporters enjoy great rivalry!