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Ancoats is a former industrial district being gentrified as a residential area
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Location within Greater Manchester
OS grid reference SJ847985
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
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Postcode district M4
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Greater Manchester
53°29′00″N2°13′47″W / 53.483333°N 2.229722°W / 53.483333; -2.229722 Coordinates: 53°29′00″N2°13′47″W / 53.483333°N 2.229722°W / 53.483333; -2.229722

Ancoats is an area of Manchester in North West England, next to the Northern Quarter, the northern part of Manchester city centre.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 in 2017; the Greater Manchester Built-up Area is the United Kingdom's second-most populous, with a population of 2.55 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

North West England region of England in United Kingdom

North West England, one of nine official regions of England, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West had a population of 7,052,000 in 2011. It is the third-most-populated region in the United Kingdom after the South East and Greater London. The largest settlements are Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Preston, Blackpool and Chester.

Northern Quarter (Manchester) area in Manchester, England

The Northern Quarter is an area of Manchester city centre, England, between Piccadilly station, Victoria station and Ancoats, centred on Oldham Street, just off Piccadilly Gardens. It was defined and named in the 1990s as part of the regeneration and gentrification of Manchester.


Historically in Lancashire, Ancoats became a cradle of the Industrial Revolution and has been called "the world's first industrial suburb". [1] For many years, from the late 18th century onwards, Ancoats was a thriving industrial district. The area suffered accelerating economic decline from the 1930s and depopulation in the years after the Second World War, particularly during the slum clearances of the 1960s.

Historic counties of England Geographical designations for areas of England, based on historical traditions

The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Anglo-Saxons and others. They are alternatively known as ancient counties, traditional counties, former counties or simply as counties. In the centuries that followed their establishment, as well as their administrative function, the counties also helped define local culture and identity. This role continued even after the counties ceased to be used for administration after the creation of administrative counties in 1889, which were themselves amended by further local government reforms in the years following.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

Industrial Revolution mid 18th – early 19th century period; First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870

The Industrial Revolution, now also known as the First Industrial Revolution, was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

Since the 1990s Ancoats' industrial heritage has been recognised and its proximity to the city centre has led to investment and substantial regeneration. The southern part of the area is branded as New Islington, by UK property developers Urban Splash, while the north retains the Ancoats name, with redevelopment centred on the Daily Express Building.

Industrial heritage An industrial plant, which can stand as a monument to monument preservation and heritage conservation law

Industrial heritage refers to the physical remains of the history of technology and industry, such as manufacturing and mining sites, as well as power and transportation infrastructure. Another definition expands this scope so that the term also covers places used for social activities related to industry such as housing, museums, education or religious worship, among other structures with values from a variety of fields in order to highlight the interdisciplinary character of industrial heritage. It is also argued that it includes the so-called sociofacts or aspects of social and institutional organizations, and mentifacts that constitute the attitudinal characteristics and value systems industrial heritage sites.

Daily Express Building, Manchester building in Manchester, England

The Daily Express Building, located on Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, England, is a Grade II* listed building which was designed by engineer, Sir Owen Williams. It was built in 1939 to house one of three Daily Express offices; the other two similar buildings are located in London and Glasgow.

For the purpose of local government elections the area is part of the Ancoats and Beswick ward of the city of Manchester.

Ancoats and Beswick (ward) Electoral ward in England

Ancoats and Beswick is an electoral ward of Manchester, England created by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) replacing the previous electoral wards of Ancoats & Clayton and Bradford for the local elections 2018.



The name Ancoats is likely to have derived from the Old English ana cots, meaning "lonely cottages". The settlement is first recorded as Elnecot in 1212. [2] In a survey of 1320, Ancoats was recorded as one of the eight hamlets within the township of Manchester in the ancient parish of Manchester within the hundred of Salford; [3] the hamlet probably consisted of a few cottages and farmhouses centred on what is now Ancoats Lane, Butler Lane and Newton Lane. [3] During the medieval period, Ancoats Hall was built. [3] Land in Ancoats was bequeathed in the 14th century by Henry de Ancotes. The village covered the area of land that roughly lies between the River Medlock and the River Irk.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Hamlet (place) Small human settlement in a rural area

A hamlet is a small human settlement. In different jurisdictions and geographies, hamlets may be the size of a town, village or parish, be considered a smaller settlement or subdivision or satellite entity to a larger settlement. The word and concept of a hamlet have roots in the Anglo-Norman settlement of England, where the old French hamlet came to apply to small human settlements. In British geography, a hamlet is considered smaller than a village and distinctly without a church.

In England, a township is a local division or district of a large parish containing a village or small town usually having its own church. A township may or may not be coterminous with a chapelry, manor, or any other minor area of local administration.

Industrial Revolution


McConnel's Mills, 1820 McConnel & Company mills, about 1820.jpg
McConnel's Mills, 1820
McConnel's Mills, 1913 McConnel & Company mills about 1913.jpg
McConnel's Mills, 1913

Survey work for the Rochdale Canal was carried out by James Brindley in 1765. The knowledge that its construction would make the transport of raw materials and finished goods more convenient gave industrialists the confidence to build their cotton mills. The first mills were built in Ancoats as early as 1790. In 1792 commissioners were established for the improvement of the township of Manchester, which included Ancoats. Towards the end of the 18th century steam power was first used to power the cotton mills. Some of the earliest mills of this period were Murray's Mills, which were established next to the Rochdale Canal on Union Street (now Redhill Street) off Great Ancoats Street, by Adam and George Murray in 1798. Later, they became known as Ancoats Mills when they were operated by McConnel & Company Ltd. The streets of Ancoats were also laid out during the latter part of the 18th century, with little development taking place other than small houses and shops along Great Ancoats Street and Oldham Road (A62 road).

Rochdale Canal

The Rochdale Canal is a navigable broad canal in Northern England, between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge, part of the connected system of the canals of Great Britain. Its name refers to the town of Rochdale, in Greater Manchester, through which it passes.

James Brindley English engineer

James Brindley was an English engineer. He was born in Tunstead, Derbyshire, and lived much of his life in Leek, Staffordshire, becoming one of the most notable engineers of the 18th century.

Cotton mill factory housing powered spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton

A cotton mill is a building housing spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton, an important product during the Industrial Revolution in the development of the factory system.

From the opening of the Rochdale Canal in 1804 the development of mills continued on a much larger scale. Mills in Ancoats included Victoria Mills, Wellington Mill, Brunswick Mill, India Mills, Dolton Mills, Lonsdale Mills, Phoenix Mill, Lloydsfield Mill, Sedgewick Mill, Decker Mill (owned by the Murray brothers), New Mill, Beehive Mill, Little Mill, Paragon Mill, Royal Mill and Pin Mill.

Ancoats grew rapidly to become an important industrial centre and as a result it also became a densely populated area. By 1815 Ancoats was the most populous district in Manchester. Streets of back-to-back houses and court dwellings were rapidly built. For the poorest members of the community, houses were split and cellars let separately. Public health was a concern; a survey motivated by the fear of a cholera outbreak showed that over half of homes in Ancoats had no private plumbing, and over half of streets were not cleaned. [4]

By the middle of the 19th century Ancoats was densely developed. In 1851 Ancoats' total population was 53,737, larger than towns such as Bury and Blackburn. However, despite this large population, Ancoats lacked public buildings and spaces. There were no parks and the only public buildings were a few churches and a dispensary. As late as 1821 there had been no churches. [4]


Cotton was not the only industry in the locality, as foundries and engineering factories were required to produce the machinery needed by the mills. The largest of these were those operated by the brothers John Muir Hetherington and Thomas Ridley Hetherington, which were established in 1830. Eventually the company became known as John Hetherington and Sons Ltd and the principal factory was at Vulcan Works on Pollard Street. The company was also the proprietor of Curtis, Sons & Company, which was established in 1804 at the Phoenix Works, which were on both sides of Chapel Street (now Chapeltown Street). On one side of the street there was a brass and iron works and on the other side there was a machinery factory. Hetherington's produced a huge range of machinery for the textile industry that included machinery for opening, preparing, spinning and doubling cotton, cotton waste, wool and worsted. Their speciality was a machine called a Combined Opener and Scutcher that was very effective in the cleaning of most types of cotton without damaging the staple or losing serviceable fibre.

Glass works

Possibly the least known, but vitally important, industry in Ancoats was the manufacture of flint glass. More than 25 glassworks have been identified in Manchester, all built during the 19th century, and many of these were in Ancoats. Thomas Percival and William Yates established one of these on Union Street (now Redhill Street) in 1844. The works was equipped with two furnaces (later three), an annealing house, workshops, a warehouse and offices. In 1852, Thomas Vickers joined the company and William Yates left in 1862. After this, the company became known as Percival Vickers British and Foreign Flint Glass Works. It made a large range of glassware that included tumblers, wine glasses, decanters, vases, celery vases, salts and cake stands. One of the buildings in Ancoats, the Flint Glass Works, still exists today and has been converted into serviced offices. [5]

Other industries

At the top of Stony Brow (later Junction Street and now Jutland Street) there was the multi-storey drysalters factory of Thomas Hassall. It was said that this was the only drysalters in England and it supplied rock salt, moss litter and all kinds of other things. There were also chemical works (especially alum), floor-cloth works and finishing and calendering works that rolled cloth to smooth or glaze it.

Later Victorian period


During the 19th century, due to political and economic circumstances, many Italians left Italy for a more secure life. Most of the Italians who arrived in Ancoats were from Liguria, in northwest Italy, and Frosinone and Caserta, southeast of Rome. [6] Over the next hundred years they created what became known as Ancoats Little Italy. Large numbers of Irish also settled in Ancoats. According to the 1851 census almost half of the men living in Ancoats had been born in Ireland. [4]

Religion and poor relief

The Methodists were very active in Ancoats at the end of the 19th century – they ran both a men's workhouse and women's night shelter (with coffee tavern). There were dozens of pubs, however, of which only five buildings remain and only two of these are still open. The Salvation Army had a presence in Ancoats, with the Star Hall and Crossley Hospital in Pollard Street. Crossley Court, flats belonging to the Salvation Army Housing Association, now stands on the site. Ancoats Hospital was located on Old Mill Street, adjacent to the Ashton Canal. This has been closed to patients for some time, and is currently under residential development. Thomas Horsfall opened the Manchester Art Museum, a free art gallery, in Ancoats in 1886. His aim was to create a morally elevating alternative to pubs. [7]

Given the historically high levels of Irish and Italian immigration, a large proportion of Ancoats' population has been Roman Catholic.[ citation needed ] Ancoats had a colony of Italians from 1835 and many of them became successful in business; e.g. the Ronchetti family were opticians, instrument makers and also waterproof manufacturers; J. L. Casartelli was an optician, instrument maker and manufacturing chemist. [8]

Early 20th century

Aircraft were manufactured in Ancoats and this factory was at Brownsfield Mill, which was on the corner of Great Ancoats Street and Binns Place at the point where the Rochdale Canal passes below Great Ancoats Street. Here, A.V. Roe (Avro) established his factory in 1910. [9] [10] Men from Ancoats serving in the Army in France during the First World War were aware that aeroplanes they saw in action above them had been made in Ancoats.

In 1939, the Daily Express newspaper company opened new premises, which were built in the "functional" style, using new curtain-wall technology identical to that on the company's Daily Express Building in Fleet Street, London and in Glasgow.

Post-war decline

The substantial economic activity generated by such a concentration of mills was halted by the slump in the cotton industry in the 1930s. Thereafter, the prosperity of the mills declined steadily, and the only new industry to establish itself in Ancoats was newspaper printing. Ancoats, like neighbouring Miles Platting and Collyhurst, became very run down and notorious for deprivation and crime. Cotton spinning ceased in Manchester and other textile-related uses were found for the mills: clothes manufacture, machinery repairs and warehouses for imported goods' rag trade.

The 1960s witnessed further decline as, during the mass clearance of the area's terraced homes, the population was re-housed in the north and east of the city. The mills, attracting decreasing rents, fell into disrepair.

Despite the clearance of Victorian terraces during the early 1960s and the relocation of most households to overspill estates like Hattersley and Gamesley, many new houses and flats were built in Ancoats by the local council. Inevitably, the local area's population was lower by 1970 than it had been a decade earlier, as the new housing developments were more spaced out, and some former residential areas had been redeveloped for commercial and industrial use.

Newspaper printing, one of Ancoats' 20th century industries, fell victim to changes in technology, with the Daily Express ceasing to be published from its famous black glass building in 1989. The closure of Express Printers was also the start of Ancoats' renewal, as the impact of low investment and increasing unemployment became recognised. [11]


In June 1989, Manchester City Council designated land bounded by Great Ancoats Street, Oldham Road, Kemp Street, Wadeford Close, Jersey Street and the Rochdale Canal into a conservation area where a number of buildings were listed. While it protected a number of historically significant buildings, it made regeneration more difficult. In 1990, the Eastside Regeneration was formed, the first organisation created to regenerate the area. The Eastside Regeneration in turn spawned the formation of the Ancoats Build Preservation Trust in 1995 and the Ancoats Urban Village Company in 1996. [11] Unfortunately, Manchester's bids for the 1996 and 2000 Olympics caused speculative buying of property in Ancoats in the early 1990s. When the bids failed the buildings were abandoned and decay accelerated. By 1998 it was estimated that 80% of business floor space in Ancoats was vacant. [12]

In 2000, the government accepted the £250m New Islington Project to redevelop a 0.125-square-kilometre (31-acre) section of land between the Rochdale and Ashton Canals. To assist regeneration by preventing speculative purchase of land the North West Development Agency made a compulsory purchase order of land in the area. A target population of 15,000 by 2010 was set for the Ancoats area. [11]


The Grade II* listed former Daily Express Building on Great Ancoats Street Express Building Manchester.jpg
The Grade II* listed former Daily Express Building on Great Ancoats Street
The Grade II* Murrays' Mills, one of the largest cotton-spinning buildings in the world. Murrays Mills 2008.jpg
The Grade II* Murrays' Mills, one of the largest cotton-spinning buildings in the world.

The following Listed buildings are in the Ancoats conservation area:


Cultural references

Ancoats has been the setting for several novels by Howard Spring, including Fame is the Spur. It was also the setting for Isabella Banks' novel The Manchester Man.

Ancoats was mentioned in the lyrics of Brian and Michael's 1978 UK number one hit, Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs, a tribute to L. S. Lowry.

A fictional singer, Ann Coates, is credited with backing vocals on the 1986 single Bigmouth Strikes Again by the Smiths.

The British trip-hop band the Baby Namboos released a song and album titled Ancoats 2 Zambia in 1999. The single was famously remixed by drum and bass producer Dillinja.

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

Miles Platting inner city district of Manchester, England

Miles Platting is an inner city part of Manchester, England, 1.4 miles (2.3 km) northeast of Manchester city centre along the Rochdale Canal and A62 road, bounded by Monsall to the north, Collyhurst to the west, Newton Heath to the east, and Bradford, Holt Town and Ancoats to the south.

Murrays Mills grade II listed architectural structure in Manchester, United kingdom

Murrays' Mills is a complex of former cotton mills on land between Jersey Street and the Rochdale Canal in the district of Ancoats, Manchester, England. The mills were built for brothers Adam and George Murray.

Rochdale Branch Canal

The Rochdale Branch Canal was a branch of the Rochdale Canal in north-west England which led close to Rochdale Town Centre. It was in use from 1794, and was bordered by the landscaped gardens of Lark Mill House on the western bank until the 1850s. A number of industries grew up around the branch, ranging from cotton mills and an iron and brass foundry in the early years, to a bakery and jam manufactory, woolen mills and sawmills later on. The branch declined with the main canal, and was little used after the 1920s, although not officially abandoned until 1952. It was filled in during the 1960s, and the site of the main basins now lies beneath the car park of a retail shopping centre.

Beehive Mill

Beehive Mill is a Grade II* listed former cotton mill in the district of Ancoats, Manchester, England. It is located at on a site surrounded by Radium Street, Jersey Street, Bengal Street and Naval Street.

John Hetherington & Sons

John Hetherington & Sons was a textile machinery manufacturer from Ancoats, Manchester in England, founded in 1830

Brunswick Mill, Ancoats grade II listed mill in Manchester, United kingdom

Brunswick Mill, Ancoats is a former cotton spinning mill in Ancoats, Manchester, England. The mill was built around 1840, part of a group of mills built along the Ashton Canal, and at that time it was one of the country's largest mills. It was built round a quadrangle, a seven-storey block facing the canal. It was taken over by the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in the 1930s and passed to Courtaulds in 1964. Production finished in 1967.

New Islington

New Islington is an inner city area of Manchester, in North West England. Historically in Lancashire and part of Ancoats, it has taken a separate identity to reflect its changed status as a regeneration area.

Laurel Mill, Middleton Junction Former cotton mill in Manchester, England

Laurel Mill was a cotton spinning mill in the Mills Hill/Middleton Junction area of Chadderton, in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, Greater Manchester, England.

Harp Mill, Castleton

Harp Mill was a former cotton spinning mill in the Castleton area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England. Queensway, Castleton was a hub of cotton mills including the three 't', Th'Arrow, Th'Harp, and Th'Ensor. The 1908 Castleton map includes: Marland Cotton Mill, Castleton Cotton Mill, Globe Works, Arrow Cotton Mill, Harp Cotton Mill, Globe Leather Works, Castleton Size Works and Castleton Iron Works. Th'Harp was taken over by the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in the 1930s and passed to Courtaulds in 1964. The site now houses industrial units.

Mars Mill, Castleton

Mars Mill was a former cotton spinning mill in Castleton, Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Castleton joined the Borough of Rochdale in 1899. Queensway, Castleton was a hub of cotton mills; Mars, Marland, and Castleton Mill were a group of three. It was taken over by the Lancashire Cotton Corporation in the 1930s and passed to Courtaulds in 1964 and demolished in the 1990s; Marland survived until 2004.

John Kennedy (manufacturer) Scottish textile industrialist in Manchester

John Kennedy was a Scottish textile industrialist in Manchester.

McConnel & Kennedy Mills

McConnel & Kennedy Mills are a group of cotton mills on Redhill Street in Ancoats, Manchester, England. With the adjoining Murrays' Mills, they form a nationally important group.

Albion Mill, Ancoats

Albion Mill is a former industrial building on Pollard Street, Manchester. It occupies the site of a former cotton mill and ironworks.

Ellenroad Mill cotton mill

Ellenroad Mill was a cotton spinning mill in Newhey, Milnrow, Rochdale in England. It was built as a mule spinning mill in 1890 by Stott and Sons and extended in 1899. It was destroyed by fire on 19 Jan 1916. When it was rebuilt, it was designed and equipped as a ring spinning mill.

Royal Mill

Royal Mill, which is located on the corner of Redhill Street and Henry Street, Ancoats, in Manchester, England, is an early-twentieth-century cotton mill, one of the last of "an internationally important group of cotton-spinning mills" sited in East Manchester. Royal Mill was constructed in 1912 on part of the site of the earlier McConnel & Kennedy mills, established in 1798. It was originally called New Old Mill and was renamed following a royal visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1942. A plaque commemorates the occasion. The Ancoats mills collectively comprise "the best and most-complete surviving examples of early large-scale factories concentrated in one area".

Havelock Mills

Havelock Mills in central Manchester were built between 1820 and 1840. It was probably the largest surviving silk mill in the north-west region in the 1970s and had a unique combination of silk and cotton mills on one site. It was a landmark on the Rochdale Canal, overlooking Tib Lock, one of the Rochdale Nine.

Kearsley Mill Bolton, Greater Manchester, M26

Kearsley Mill is a 240,000 sq ft, late period cotton mill located in the small village of Prestolee in Kearsley, Greater Manchester. A near complete example of Edwardian mill architecture, the building now functions as headquarters for a number of businesses and is still used in the continued manufacturing and distribution of textiles by Richard Haworth Ltd Est (1876), part of the Ruia Group. The mill is a Grade II listed building.

Great Ancoats Street street in Manchester, United Kingdom

Great Ancoats Street is a street in the inner suburb of Ancoats, Manchester, England. Much of Great Ancoats Street was originally named Ancoats Lane and was the location of Ancoats Hall. The street passed through a thriving manufacturing area during the 19th century. It was in close proximity to the Ashton and Rochdale canals. A number of cotton mills built in the early and mid-Victorian period are nearby, some of which have been converted into residential or office buildings, such as Albion Mills. The Pin Mill Works at the junction with Fairfield Street was a late 18th-century pin works, that became a cotton mill run by J & J Thompson and works for dyeing and calico-printing. Brownsfield Mill, a Grade II* listed building, was built in 1825.

Manchester is a city in Northwest England. The M4 postcode area is to the northeast of the city centre, and includes part of the Northern Quarter, part of New Islington, and the area of Ancoats. This postcode area contains 65 listed buildings that are recorded in the National Heritage List for England. Of these, eight are listed at Grade II*, the middle of the three grades, and the others are at Grade II, the lowest grade.



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  6. "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!". Legacies: UK Local History to You. BBC For an interesting glimpse into the remnants of the once 15,000 strong Italian colony see Nigel Pivaro's BBC1 Inside Out short documentary the Battle for St Michael's. Retrieved 9 February 2008.
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  13. "Hallé St Peters". Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  14. Buxton, Richard (1849). A botanical guide to the flowering plants, ferns, mosses, and algæ, found indigenous within sixteen miles of Manchester. London: Longman and Co.
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Further reading