Symbols of Manchester

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Symbols of Manchester
Arms of the City of Manchester.svg
The coat of arms of Manchester City Council since 1842

The City of Manchester in North-West England has traditionally been represented by various symbols. Most of these symbols are derived from heraldic emblems contained within the city's official heraldic achievement, which was officially adopted when the Borough of Manchester was granted city status in 1842. Notably, the motif of the worker bee has been widely used to represent the city as a symbol of industry. [1]

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's third-most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.2 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.

Achievement (heraldry) full display of all the heraldic components

An achievement, armorial achievement or heraldic achievement in heraldry is a full display or depiction of all the heraldic components to which the bearer of a coat of arms is entitled. An achievement comprises not only the arms themselves displayed on the Escutcheon, the central element, but also the following elements surrounding it:

Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in Scotland from 1833 to 1975 with the reform of royal burghs and creation of police burghs.



The bees represented in Manchester's official heraldic arms Coat of arms of Manchester City Council (cropped).png
The bees represented in Manchester's official heraldic arms

The heraldic achievement of Manchester (colloquially but inaccurately referred to as a coat of arms ) were granted to the Borough of Manchester in 1842 and continue to be used today by Manchester City Council. [2]

Coat of arms unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon

A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which in its whole consists of shield, supporters, crest, and motto. A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organization or corporation.

Manchester City Council Local government body in England

Manchester City Council is the local government authority for Manchester, a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. It is composed of 96 councillors, three for each of the 32 electoral wards of Manchester. The council is controlled by the Labour Party and led by Sir Richard Leese. The opposition is formed by the Liberal Democrats and led by former Manchester Withington MP John Leech. Joanne Roney is the chief executive. Many of the council's staff are based at Manchester Town Hall.

Arms:Gules three Bendlets enhanced Or a Chief Argent thereon on Waves of the Sea a Ship under sail proper.
Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours a Terrestrial Globe semée of Bees volant all proper.
Supporters: On the dexter side a Heraldic White Hart Argent attired collared and chain reflexed over the back Or and on the sinister side a Lion guardant Or murally crowned Gules each charged on the shoulder with a rose of the last.
Motto:Concilio et Labore ("By Counsel and Work")

At the centre of the arms is a heater-style escutcheon, or shield, with gold stripes on a red field representing the rivers Irwell, Medlock and Irk, which flow through Manchester. The shield is derived from the arms of the Lords of Manchester, who ruled the city prior to 1301. The chief symbol at the top of the shield is a ship in full sail, representing the city's trade with the rest of the world. On either side of the shield are a pair of supporters, an antelope and a lion, each bearing the Red Rose of Lancaster on its shoulder, derived from the arms of King Henry IV, Duke of Lancaster. The lion is said to symbolise bravery and strength, while the antelope stands for peace, harmony, courage and discipline. At the top, the crest consists of seven bees flying over a globe, symbolising Manchester's industry being exported across the world. At the foot of the arms is the city's Latin motto, Concilio Et Labore, which is loosely translated to "by wisdom and effort" or "by counsel and work", a phrase taken from the Book of Ecclesiasticus 37:16: "Let reason go before every enterprise, and counsel before every action". [3] [4]

Heater shield

The heater shield or heater-shaped shield is a form of European medieval shield, developing from the early medieval kite shield in the late 12th century as depicted in the great seal of Richard I and John. The term is a neologism, created by Victorian antiquarians due to the shape's resemblance to a clothes iron.

Escutcheon (heraldry) main or focal element in an achievement of arms

In heraldry, an escutcheon is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses.

Field (heraldry) background of a shield or flag

In heraldry, the background of the shield is called the field. The field is usually composed of one or more tinctures or furs. The field may be divided or may consist of a variegated pattern.

The heraldic arms appears on many architectural features around Manchester, including Manchester Town Hall and the Corn Exchange, and on blue plaque in the city. [4]

Manchester Town Hall municipal building in Manchester, England

Manchester Town Hall is a Victorian, Neo-gothic municipal building in Manchester, England. It is the ceremonial headquarters of Manchester City Council and houses a number of local government departments. The building faces Albert Square to the north and St Peter's Square to the south, with Manchester Cenotaph facing its southern entrance.

Corn Exchange, Manchester building in Manchester, England

Corn Exchange, Manchester is a grade II listed building in Manchester, England. The building was originally used as a corn exchange and was previously named the Corn & Produce Exchange, and subsequently The Triangle. Following the IRA bomb in 1996 it was renovated and was a modern shopping centre till July 2014. The building was recently sold to Aviva investors and has been re-developed into a dining destination with 17 food outlets.

Blue plaque marker commemorating a link between a location and a person or event

A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person, event, or former building on the site, serving as a historical marker. The term is used in the United Kingdom in two different senses. It may be used narrowly and specifically to refer to the "official" scheme administered by English Heritage, and currently restricted to sites within Greater London; or it may be used less formally to encompass a number of similar schemes administered by organisations throughout the UK.

Worker bee

Manchester bee art in the Northern Quarter Manchester bee 2 (cropped).jpg
Manchester bee art in the Northern Quarter

The worker bee is one of the best-known symbols of Manchester. It was adopted as a motif for Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, at a time when Manchester was taking a leading role in new forms of mass production, and symbolises Mancunians' hard work during this era and Manchester being a hive of activity in the 19th century. [5] [6]

Worker bee female bee with blocked reproductive capacity

A worker bee is any female (eusocial) bee that lacks the full reproductive capacity of the colony's queen bee; under most circumstances, this is correlated to an increase in certain non-reproductive activities relative to a queen, as well. Worker bees occur in many bee species other than honey bees, but this is by far the most familiar colloquial use of the term.

Industrial Revolution Mid-20th-to-early-21th-century period; First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the US, 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, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

HMS Manchester was nicknamed Busy Bee after the Manchester bee symbol, and the bee is depicted on the ship's crest, which is also present on the ship's funnel. [7] In the early 1970s the famous Boddingtons logo was introduced, depicting a barrel and two bees. [8] The University of Manchester's coat of arms features three bees. The bees are depicted on many structures in Manchester such as lampposts and bollards. [9] The 2009/10 away kit of Manchester City was inspired by the Manchester bee, featuring a black shirt with yellow shoulder inserts. [10] [11]

HMS <i>Manchester</i> (D95) Type 42 destroyer

HMS Manchester was a Type 42 destroyer in the 5th Destroyer Squadron of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. She was laid down in 1978 at Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, launched in 1980, commissioned in 1982, and decommissioned on 24 February 2011.

Following the May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, the bee emblem gained popularity as a public symbol of unity against terrorism, appearing on protest banners and graffiti. Tattoo parlours both in and outside Manchester began to take part in the Manchester Tattoo Appeal, in which they offered bee tattoos to raise money for the victims of the attack. [12] [13]

Floral emblems

the Red Rose of Lancaster Red Rose Badge of Lancaster.svg
the Red Rose of Lancaster

Lancashire rose

Manchester is part of the historic county of Lancashire, within the Salford Hundred. This is reflected in the use of the Red Rose of Lancaster in Manchester's heraldic arms. After the reform of local government in 1974, Manchester was removed from Lancashire for ceremonial and administrative purposes and brought into the new metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. After the change, both the City of Manchester and the new county retained the Lancastrian Rose in many emblems.


The cottongrass is the county flower of Greater Manchester Common cottongrass at Light Hazzles Reservoir.jpg
The cottongrass is the county flower of Greater Manchester

Eriophorum angustifolium , commonly known as Cottongrass, is the county flower of Manchester. [14] Cottongrass was selected because of Manchester's association with cotton, chiefly during the 19th century, when the city was given the nickname of Cottonopolis.

Three rivers

On the Manchester City Council arms, the three golden diagonal stripes on the red shield are meant to symbolise the three rivers which run through Manchester city centre: the Irwell, the Irk and the Medlock. This heraldic device has been adopted in other popular symbols, such as in the logo of Manchester United F.C. until the early 1970s and Manchester City Football Club (between 1972 and 1997, the club replaced the stripes with the Red Rose of Lancashire, but the logo now combines the stripes and the flower). [15]

Related Research Articles

Heraldry profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol

Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement, more commonly known as the coat of arms. The coat of arms usually includes a shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.

Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom coat of arms

The royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, or the Royal Arms for short, is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom. Variants of the Royal Arms are used by other members of the British royal family; and by the British Government in connection with the administration and government of the country. In Scotland, there exists a separate version of the Royal Arms, a variant of which is used by the Scotland Office. The arms in banner form serve as basis for the monarch's official flag, known as the Royal Standard.

Coat of arms of the Philippines official coat of arms of the Republic of the Philippines

The Coat of arms of the Philippines or sometimes in features the eight-rayed sun of the Philippines with each ray representing the eight provinces which were placed under martial law by Governor-General Ramón Blanco during the Philippine Revolution, and the three five-pointed stars representing the three primary geographic regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Coat of arms of Manitoba

The coat of arms of Manitoba is the heraldic symbol representing the Canadian province of Manitoba. The arms contains symbols reflecting Manitoba's British heritage along with local symbols. At the upper part of the shield is the red cross of St. George, representing England. The lower portion of the shield features a buffalo standing atop a rock on a green background.

Coat of arms of Australia coat of arms

The coat of arms of Australia, officially called the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, is the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia. A shield, depicting symbols of Australia's six states, is held up by the native Australian animals the kangaroo and the emu. The seven-pointed Commonwealth Star surmounting the crest also represents the states and territories, while floral emblems appear below the shield.

Coat of arms of Toronto coat of arms

The coat of arms of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was designed by Robert Watt, the Chief Herald of Canada at the time, for the city after its amalgamation in 1998. The arms were granted by the Canadian Heraldic Authority on January 11, 1999.

The coat of arms of Finland is a crowned lion on a red field, the right foreleg replaced with an armoured hand brandishing a sword, trampling on a sabre with the hindpaws. The coat of arms was originally created around the year 1580.

Red Rose of Lancaster

The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower of Lancashire.

Coat of arms of New Zealand coat of arms

The coat of arms of New Zealand is the heraldic symbol representing the South Pacific island country of New Zealand. Its design reflects New Zealand's history as a bicultural nation, with a European female figure on one side and a Māori rangatira (chief) on the other. The symbols on the central shield represent New Zealand's trade, agriculture and industry, and a Crown represents New Zealand's status as a constitutional monarchy.

Coat of arms of New South Wales

The Coat of arms of New South Wales is the official coat of arms of the Australian state of New South Wales. It was granted by royal warrant of King Edward VII dated 11 October 1906.

Lion (heraldry) element in heraldry

The lion is a common charge in heraldry. It traditionally symbolises courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour, because historically it has been regarded as the "king of beasts". Lion refers also to a Judeo-Christian symbolism. The Lion of Judah stands in the coat of arms of Jerusalem. Similar looking lion can be found e.g. in the coat of arms of the Swedish royal House of Bjelbo, from there in turn derived into the coat of arms of Finland, formerly belonging to Sweden, and many others examples for similar historical reasons.

Coat of arms of Vancouver

The coat of arms of Vancouver was granted by the College of Arms on 31 March 1969.

Coat of arms of Calderdale

The Coat of arms of Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council was granted to the new council of Calderdale just a few months after the district was created as part of the new metropolitan county of West Yorkshire in 1974.

Emblem of Sri Lanka coat of arms

The national emblem of Sri Lanka is used by the State of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government in connection with the administration and government of the country. The current emblem has been in use since 1972. The designer of this Emblem is S.M. Senevirathna.

Coat of arms of Singapore heraldic symbol representing the country Singapore

The National Coat of Arms of Singapore is the heraldic symbol representing the Southeast Asian island nation of Singapore. It was adopted in 1959, the year Singapore became self-governing within the British Empire. The committee that created it, headed by then Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye, was also responsible for the national flag and the national anthem of Singapore.

German heraldry

German heraldry is the tradition and style of heraldic achievements in Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, including national and civic arms, noble and burgher arms, ecclesiastical heraldry, heraldic displays and heraldic descriptions. German heraldic style is one of the four major broad traditions within European heraldry and stands in contrast to Gallo-British, Latin and Eastern heraldry, and strongly influenced the styles and customs of heraldry in the Nordic countries, which developed comparatively late. Together, German and Nordic heraldry are often referred to as German-Nordic heraldry.

French heraldry The use of heraldic symbols in France

French heraldry is the use of heraldic symbols in France. Although it had a considerable history, existing from the 11th century, such formality has largely died out in France, as far as regulated personal heraldry is concerned. Civic heraldry on the other hand remains a visible part of daily life.

Coat of arms of the London Borough of Hillingdon

The coat of arms of the London Borough of Hillingdon is the official symbol of the London Borough of Hillingdon. They use elements from the coats of arms of the four previous districts. It is described as:

Arms: Per pale Gules and Vert an Eagle displayed per pale Or and Argent in the dexter claw a Fleur-de-lis Or and in the sinister claw a Cog-Wheel Argent on a Chief Or four Civic Crowns Vert.

Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours issuant from a Circlet of Brushwood Sable a demi-Lion Gules with wings Argent the underside of each wing charged with a Cross Gules and holding between the paws a Bezant thereon a Mullet Azure.

Supporters: On the dexter side an Heraldic Tiger Or gorged with an Astral Crown Azure and charged on the shoulder with a Rose Gules charged with another Argent barbed and seeded proper and on the sinister side a Stag proper attired and gorged with a Circlet of Brushwood and charged on the shoulder with two Ears of Rye slipped in saltire Or.

Motto: Forward.

Heraldry of León

The first instance of a figure of the lion as symbol of the Kingdom of León is found in minted coins of Alfonso VII, called the Emperor (1126-1157). Until then, the cross had a preponderant position on documents and coins of Leonese monarchs since that reign the cross was gradually displaced by the lion. The Spanish historian and heraldist Martín de Riquer explained that the lion was already used as heraldic emblem in 1148. At the end of the reign of Alfonso VII, the figure of this animal began to appear on royal documents as personal device of the monarch and became pervasive during reigns of Ferdinand II (1157-1188) and Alfonso IX (1188-1230).


  1. "The rise of the 'greatest village in England'". Manchester Evening News . 2012-11-03. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  2. Frangopulo, N. J., ed. (1962) Rich Inheritance. Manchester: Education Committee; p. II (note by W. H. Shercliff)
  3. "The antelope, the lion and the bees". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  4. 1 2 "Up In Arms: Manchester's Badge On Buildings". Manchester Confidential. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  5. "Why the worker bee is a symbol of Manchester". 24 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  6. "'Peaceful but not to be messed with' – how the bee came to symbolise Manchester". The Guardian. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  7. "HMS Manchester sets sail". Manchester Evening News. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2011. Her funnel crest includes a bee which is taken from the city's coat of arms, signifying industry and endeavour.
  8. "Manchester - Entertainment - Boddies: 200 years of beers". BBC. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  9. "Manchester history: the bees, the bees!". Creative Tourist. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  10. "Gallagher hails City's new strips". Four Four Two. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 2018-05-23. The away kit is a nod to Manchester’s symbol of industry and coat of arms – the Apis Millifera – more commonly known as ‘the bee’. The shirt is black with yellow and gold inserts on the shoulders used to define and accentuate the upper torso.
  11. "MCFC Away Kit available to pre-order". 30 July 2009. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 2018-05-23. The away kit is a nod to Manchester’s symbol of industry and coat of arms – the Apis Millifera – more commonly known as ‘the bee’. The shirt is black with yellow and gold inserts on the shoulders used to define and accentuate the upper torso.
  12. "Manchester attack: Hundreds queue for bee tattoos". 26 May 2017 via
  13. "Hundreds line up to get 'worker bee' tattoos to raise money for Manchester attack victims".
  14. "Cotton-grass (Common)". Plant Life. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  15. "Manchester City History". MCIVTA. Archived from the original on 30 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.