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Gorton Monastery, Gorton.jpg
Gorton Monastery
Greater Manchester UK location map 2.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Greater Manchester
Population36,055 (2011)
OS grid reference SJ885965
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district M18
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
UK Parliament
List of places
Greater Manchester
53°27′29″N2°09′47″W / 53.458°N 2.163°W / 53.458; -2.163 Coordinates: 53°27′29″N2°09′47″W / 53.458°N 2.163°W / 53.458; -2.163

Gorton is an area of Manchester in North West England, southeast of the city centre. The population at the 2011 census was 36,055. [1] [2] Neighbouring areas include Audenshaw, Denton, Levenshulme, Openshaw, and Reddish.


A major landmark is Gorton Monastery, a 19th-century High Victorian Gothic former Franciscan friary.


According to local folklore, Gorton derives its name from Gore Town, due to a battle between the Saxons and Danes nearby. [3] [4] This has been dismissed by historians as "popular fancy". [5] The name Gorton means "dirty farmstead", [6] perhaps taking its name from the Gore Brook, or dirty brook, which still runs through the township today. The brook may have acquired that name because of the dirty appearance of its water, perhaps caused by discolouration due to peat or iron deposits. [7]

In medieval times, the district was a township of the ancient parish of Manchester in the Salford Hundred of Lancashire.

Manchester City F.C. was founded as St. Mark's (West Gorton) in 1880. The club was formed with the aim of binding the local community and to combat a form of gang warfare called scuttling that existed in the 1870s. [8] [9] The rector's daughter, Anna Connell, is widely credited as the founder, although churchwarden William Beastow is believed to be the person who played the main part in creating sporting activities for the parish. In 1875, St. Mark's Cricket Club are known to have played and this evolved into the football club later in the decade. [10] The first recorded football game was played in November 1880. [11]

A Blackfoot Sioux chief named Charging Thunder came to Salford aged 26 as part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1903. Like many Lakota tribesmen, Charging Thunder was an exceptional horseman and performed thrilling stunts in Buffalo Bill's show in front of huge crowds, on the site of what is now the Lowry in Salford Quays. But when the show rolled out of town, he remained in London. He married Josephine, an American horse trainer who had just given birth to their first child, Bessie and together they settled in Darwen, before moving to Gorton. His name was changed to George Edward Williams, after registering with the British immigration authorities to enable him to find work. Williams ended up as an elephant keeper at the Belle Vue Zoo. He died on 28 July 1929 from pneumonia aged fifty-two. His interment was in Gorton's cemetery.

20th century

The world-famous Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, comprising a zoo, gardens, amusement park, exhibition complex and speedway stadium, was opened in 1836 in Gorton and became one of the leading attractions in the UK. The site spanned 165 acres of land and attracted over two million visitors a year. [12] The zoo was the third-largest in the UK, and the exhibition hall held concerts from a range of national and international artists, such as Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. After 141 years, the zoo closed in 1977, with the rest of the site finally cleared for redevelopment in 1982.

Myra Hindley, convicted of taking part in the Moors Murders in 1966, grew up in Gorton. [13] She and Ian Brady lived there at the time of the first three Moors murders, before moving to Hattersley in 1964 when Hindley's family home was included in a local demolition programme. Brady and Hindley committed two further murders after moving from Gorton, before they were finally arrested in October 1965. Their first victim, Pauline Reade (who died in July 1963 aged 16, but whose body was not found for 24 years), was a Gorton resident and a neighbour of Hindley. [14] The third victim, Keith Bennett, was also from Gorton. He was last seen alive on 16 June 1964. His body has yet to be found, and Pauline Reade's body was not found until 1987. [15]

Economy and development

The Industrial Revolution brought work and industry to Gorton in the form of locomotive factories, including that of Beyer, Peacock and Company. Today these sites continue to employ workers in a variety of fields, from local private businesses to national companies, including the manufacturing headquarters of Iceland [16] . A number of retail and recreation sites are also a source of local employment for many in the area, such as the TV and film production studio, Space Studios, which employs up to 300 people. [17] Less than 3 miles from the centre of Manchester, Gorton is also made up of many tertiary sector workers who commute into the city.

The popular television series Shameless, which aired on Channel 4, was mainly filmed in West Gorton. The parade of shops used for filming in the initial series was built on the site of St. Mark's Church, Clowes Street, the birthplace of Manchester City F.C. [18] The area has since been demolished and redeveloped with various new social and private housing, [19] new Medical Centre, retail and commercial spaces, as well as the "Space Project", a large-scale television and film production studio with six sound and prop stages used to film various BBC and ITV productions.

In 2006, Manchester City Council started a multimillion-pound redevelopment of the Gorton District Shopping Centre. The small market and retail area were demolished and work started in late 2007 to construct a new market hall and Tesco Extra hypermarket on the site. In July 2008, the new Manchester Gorton Market Hall was opened to the public. [20] The construction of the new hypermarket and neighbouring petrol station continued, and in late October 2008, the new Tesco Extra store opened its doors for trading. Further retail outlets were developed near this site along Hyde Road, including Subway, Coral and Age UK. [21] Regeneration works are continuing to make Gorton "an even better place to live and work". This includes the demolition off all former tower blocks and construction of new homes and parks. House prices in the area are rising as a result of this as the area is beginning to attract more trendy, urban buyers.


Belle Vue is a locality within Gorton, as are West Gorton, which was included in the City of Manchester in 1890, whereas the remainder of Gorton wasn't until 1909, thanks largely to the work of councillor Joseph Henry Williamson, then Chairman of Gorton Urban District Council, and Abbey Hey, mostly a residential district, but also well-known locally as the location of Wright Robinson College.

The area south of the former Roman road, Hyde Road, and between Belle Vue and Reddish is a historic area in which various ancient tools and weapons have been unearthed from various historic battles that took place there. [22] Many local placenames allude to this history, including Winning Hill, also known as Ryder Brow, a locality within Gorton that contains many topographical features, including Bottom o’ th’ Brow at the base of a valley and Gore Brook that runs through Gorton, flowing west to the river Mersey. Much of this area contains the Gore Brook Valley Conservation Area. Ryder Brow is served by Ryder Brow railway station.

Gorton also has several allotments and parks which are supported through the Gorton Horticultural Society.

Landmarks and attractions

Gorton is home to Gorton Monastery, a Franciscan, 19th century High Victorian Gothic friary. This has been renovated and secularised: it was previously derelict after the friars moved out. The parish left by the Friars came under the care of the Diocese of Salford. St Francis of Assisi RC Church on Textile Street, Gorton, and Sacred Heart Church, Levenshulme Road, Gorton, now form part of the R.C. Parish of Sacred Heart and St. Francis. Other churches in Gorton which were designed by notable architects include the Brookfield Unitarian Church on Hyde Road, built by Richard Peacock [23] and the Mount Olivet Apostolic Church (originally the Anglican church of Our Lady of Mercy and St Thomas of Canterbury) on Mount Road, which was built by Walter Tapper in 1927. [24]

Gorton Heritage Trail is a public trail with 20 sites of interest. The trail is partly semi-rural, largely located within the Gore Brook Valley Conservation Area, and highlights various local landmarks, including ecological and topographical sites, and grade-listed monuments and buildings. The trail starts in Sunny Brow Park, and leads northwards to Debdale Park, following the reverse course of Gore Brook. [25]

Peacock Mausoleum located at Brookfield Unitarian Church, Gorton Peacock Family Memorial, Brookfield Unitarian Church, Gorton.jpg
Peacock Mausoleum located at Brookfield Unitarian Church, Gorton
St James' Church, Gorton. St James Church Gorton Winter.jpg
St James' Church, Gorton.

There are a number of grade-listed buildings in Gorton, most notably Gorton Monastery. Other listed buildings and monuments include:

Gorton was home to the world-famous Belle Vue Zoological Gardens from 1836 until its closure in the 1980s. At its peak, Belle Vue attracted more than two million visitors a year. [27]


Railway stations

A public light rail demonstration at Debdale Park, 1987 DLR train at Debdale Park Manchester.jpg
A public light rail demonstration at Debdale Park, 1987

Gorton is bordered to the north by the Piccadilly–Glossop train line (formerly the Great Central Railway [28] ), and is served by several railway stations including Gorton railway station, which opened in 1842 as Gorton and Openshaw and was replaced in 1906. It is still in operation today on the Hope Valley Line and is served by train services between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop/Hadfield. [29] The station is mentioned in the 1964 song "Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann, referred to as "Openshaw".

Other stations in the area include Ashburys, Belle Vue and Ryder Brow.

Another railway station in the Gorton area, Hyde Road, was opened in 1882 on the Fallowfield Loop railway line until the line closed to passengers in 1958. The station had a brief revival in 1987 when it played a role in the early development of the Manchester Metrolink system. A temporary station called Debdale Park was constructed on the station site to host a public exhibition of Project Light Rail, in which a light rail vehicle on loan from the fledgling Docklands Light Railway in London was driven along a short stretch of track to demonstrate the light rail/tram configuration then being planned for Manchester. Soon after the demonstration, the Fallowfield line was dismantled; it has since been converted by Sustrans into a cycle track – the Fallowfield Loop – which runs from Debdale Park to St Werburgh's Road Metrolink station in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. [30] [31]

Railway manufacturing

A company that became renowned for its locomotives, exported world-wide, was established at Gorton, on the southern side of the railway line, [note 1] in 1854. The proprietors, Charles Beyer, Richard Peacock and Henry Robertson, reincorporated the company with limited liability in 1902 as Beyer, Peacock & Company Limited.

Richard Peacock had previously been the chief engineer of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway's locomotive works nearby at Openshaw (north of the railway line), [note 2] and had seen an opportunity for locomotive manufacture by a private company. An early success was the world's first successful type of steam condensing locomotives for underground railways, of which 148 were built. [32] In the 20th century, the company designed and manufactured more than 1,000 powerful articulated locomotives called Beyer-Garratts. By the time the company wound up in 1966, it had built nearly 8,000 steam and diesel locomotives. [33]


The former municipal borough of Manchester was created in 1838 and elevated to a city in 1853. Part of Gorton township was included in the city in 1890. The remaining part of the township became an Urban District of the administrative county of Lancashire in 1894. A small part of the urban district was transferred to the city of Manchester in 1901 and the remaining area was fully incorporated into Manchester in 1909.

Gorton forms part of the Manchester Gorton parliamentary constituency, comprising Gorton North, Gorton South, Fallowfield, Longsight, Levenshulme, Rusholme and Whalley Range. [34] The Gorton area is split into two electoral wardsGorton North and Gorton South. Father of the House and Britain's longest serving backbench MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman, represented the Gorton area (Ardwick followed by Manchester Gorton) for 47 years until his death in February 2017. [35] Manchester Gorton's current MP is Afzal Khan.

Performing arts and sport

Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1854 and is an amateur orchestra. [36] The folk comedy group Gorton Tank were based in Gorton and were popular in the Manchester area. The painter Michael Gutteridge was born in Gorton. The Gorton Morris Men were responsible for reviving the rushcart ceremony in Gorton. [37] Manchester City F.C. were founded as St. Mark's (West Gorton) in 1880. Abbey Hey F.C. club is in Gorton. "Bouncing Billy Barker" was a local man who specialised in jumping feats. [38]

Notable residents


  1. 53°27′58″N2°10′37″W / 53.466°N 2.177°W
  2. The name of the MS&L Railway's workshops, Gorton Locomotive Works, known locally as the Gorton Tank (location 53°28′16″N2°10′37″W / 53.471°N 2.177°W ), is often confused with the "Gorton Foundry" works of Beyer, Peacock & Company Limited.

Related Research Articles

Fallowfield Human settlement in England

Fallowfield is a suburb of Manchester, England, with a population at the 2011 census of 15,211. Historically in Lancashire, it lies 3 miles (5 km) south of Manchester city centre and is bisected east–west by Wilmslow Road and north–south by Moseley Road and Wilbraham Road. The former Fallowfield Loop railway line, now a cycle path, follows a route nearly parallel with the east–west main road.

Longsight Human settlement in England

Longsight is an inner city area of Manchester, England, 3 miles (4.8 km) south of the city centre, bounded by Ardwick and West Gorton to the north, Belle Vue to the east, Levenshulme to the south, and Chorlton-on-Medlock, Victoria Park and Fallowfield to the west. Historically in Lancashire, it had a population of 15,429 at the 2011 census.

Charles Beyer Locomotive engineer

Charles Frederick Beyer was a celebrated German-British locomotive designer and builder, and co-founder of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He was the co-founder and head engineer of Beyer, Peacock and Company in Gorton, Manchester. A philanthropist and deeply religious, he founded three parish churches in Gorton, was a governor of Manchester Grammar School, and remains the single biggest donor to what is today the University of Manchester. He is buried in the graveyard of Llantysilio church, Llantysilio, Llangollen, Denbighshire North Wales. Llantysilio church is within the grounds of his former 700 acre Llantysilio Hall estate. His mansion house, built 1872–1874, is nearby.

Beyer, Peacock and Company was an English railway locomotive manufacturer with a factory in Openshaw, Manchester. Founded by Charles Beyer, Richard Peacock and Henry Robertson, it traded from 1854 until 1966. The company exported locomotives, and machine tools to service them, throughout the world.

Manchester Gorton (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1885 onwards

Manchester Gorton is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament by Labour's Afzal Khan, who was elected at the 2017 general election.

Richard Peacock Engineer and politician from United Kingdom

Richard Peacock was an English engineer, one of the founders of locomotive manufacturer Beyer, Peacock and Company.

Fairfield railway station (England)

Fairfield railway station serves the Fairfield area of Droylsden, Tameside, Greater Manchester and is 3.1 miles (5 km) east of Manchester Piccadilly station. It was opened by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway in 1892, when the branch to Chorlton-cum-Hardy opened, and replaced an earlier station that had opened with the line in 1841. The original station was west of the present station. For a suburban station, Fairfield has very low passenger usage.

Openshaw Human settlement in England

Openshaw is an area of Manchester, England, about two miles east of the city centre. Historically part of Lancashire, Openshaw was incorporated into the city of Manchester in 1890. Its name derives from the Old English Opinschawe, which means an open wood or coppice.

Abbey Hey Human settlement in England

Abbey Hey is an area of Gorton, in the city of Manchester, England. It is known mainly for Debdale Park, Wright Robinson College, Cat Valley playing field, the donkey sanctuary and Delamere Park.

Fallowfield railway station Disused railway station in Manchester, England

Fallowfield railway station was on Wilmslow Road in Fallowfield, a southern suburb of Manchester, England. It was on the Fallowfield Loop railway line, a suburban railway which looped around the south of the city and terminated at the former Manchester Central railway station.

Hyde Road railway station former railway station in Gorton, Manchester, England

Hyde Road was a railway station in Gorton, Manchester, England, on the Fallowfield Loop Line. It opened in 1892 and closed in 1958 when local passenger services on the line stopped. The station was sometimes advertised as Hyde Road for Belle Vue, that is, convenient for Belle Vue Zoo, about one mile away. The track closed completely in 1988 and the track was taken up. The station has long since been demolished, and the site has now been partly redeveloped. The line of the track is used as a cycleway.

Fallowfield Loop railway line former local railway route in Greater Manchester, England

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Gorton Locomotive Works railway workshops in Gorton, Manchester, England

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Debdale Park

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Fallowfield Loop Off-road cycle path, pedestrian and horse riding route in the south of Manchester, England

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Gorton Heritage Trail

Gorton Heritage Trail is located approximately 3 miles from the centre of Manchester, England. The trail has been designed to promote and conserve the heritage and wildlife of Gore Brook Valley. It lies mainly within the Gore Brook Conservation area. There are eight listed buildings and other places of interest along the trail.

Peacock Mausoleum

The Peacock Mausoleum is a Victorian Gothic memorial to Richard Peacock (1820–1889), engineer and Liberal MP for Manchester, and to his son, Joseph Peacock. It is situated in the cemetery of Brookfield Unitarian Church, Gorton, Manchester. The mausoleum was designed by the prolific Manchester architect Thomas Worthington. It was listed Grade II* on the National Heritage List for England on 3 October 1974.

Brookfield Unitarian Church church in Manchester, UK

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  40. "Gorton Olympians". Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2010.

Select bibliography

See also

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Gorton at Wikimedia Commons