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From Victorian “Cottonopolis” to Modern City: Manchester, United Kingdom


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Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in North West England with a population of 510,700. Since 2001, population has grown by 20.8%, making it the fastest growing city in Britain. 

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Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in North West England with a population of 510,700. Since 2001, population has grown by 20.8%, making it the fastest growing city in Britain.


Manchester's history is concerned with textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.  Manchester was for a time the most productive centre of cotton processing, and later the world's largest marketplace for cotton goods. Manchester was the "Cottonopolis" and "Warehouse City" during the Victorian era.


 As of 2011 Manchester is the fastest growing major city in the UK and the third-most visited city in the UK by foreign visitors! My sense this just might have something to do with their world class football teams – Manchester United and Manchester City!  For all you avid football fans (US “soccer”), if you do plan a trip which I highly recommend, you will just love this vibrant and exciting city. Don’t forget a visit to Old Trafford (stadium for Manchester United) and the National Football Museum (Urbis).


As in London, Manchester has an Imperial War Museum which I highly recommend you visit during the day, to be followed with a theatrical or opera production in the evening.  One artistic production I will not miss this year is Priscilla Presley (yes, former wife of Elvis Presley), performance as the wicked queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  She first played this at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre in 2012.  She will plan a season in this show at Manchester’s Opera House, beginning December 5, 2022 through January 4, 2015.


Manchester Art Gallery, as my readers may remember my fondness for the British Pre- Raphaelites - painters of the 19C, has a magnificent collection. Manchester Art Gallery is one of the region’s most popular cultural destinations. It recently underwent a £35million expansion and refurbishment that transformed the museum into a world-class gallery displaying many of the city’s most important fine and decorative art works. The collection covers more than six centuries of work, but the museum is best known for its 19th century British paintings.


The Pre-Raphaelites were Britain’s first and best-known radical art movement, a group of rebellious students from the Royal Academy who wanted to paint pictures of modern life. This gallery showcases Manchester’s world famous collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings; pictures that reflect key topics and issues of the time such as religion, morality and emigration


When visiting or touring a foreign city, I generally do not take the time to visit a traditional library, but in Manchester I believe they have the most important library in Europe – John Rylands Manchester.


 As you walk through the many rooms, multiple floors with stain glass ceilings with the light filtering in; one captures a feeling of ancient wisdom and understanding.  One cannot escape the feeling that we have lost a dimension of deep reflection in a world filled with fast pace internet and twitter.


  What has happened to modern man – what have we lost – how can I connect with my grandchildren to explain to them the value in books!  The time and delicate effort in beautiful leather bindings – as in sculpture – things that were valued, man took the time to honor.


 Wood floors, leather couches, I would not have been surprised if I saw a facsimile of Winston Churchill sitting in the corner, deep in thought and reading.  I left wondering if I could ever turn in my Kindle for a soft or hardbound book – for the value of reading, taking time to write those penciled notes in the margins.  I feel we have lost something of great value, do you?


Enjoy Manchester!


March 20, 2023


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