Looking for fun and interesting facts about Manchester? As the third biggest city in the UK, Manchester has a long and interesting history that continues to draw people to it today.
It’s a cosmopolitan hub and home to many famous faces, as well as huge historical movements, including the suffragette movement and the industrial revolution.
Whether you’re just curious about visiting or have always lived in and loved the city, you’ll be surprised by just how many fascinating facts there are about Manchester! Since moving here in 2022, I’ve learnt so much about this amazing city and constantly discovering more.
If you’re planning a trip to Manchester, why not check out some of my Manchester recommendations:
Best Facts About Manchester
Need some quick facts without skimming the whole blog post? Here’s my top five favourite facts about Manchester:
- Rolls met Royce in Manchester
- The first public railway was built in Manchester
- Manchester is home to the birth of the Suffragette movement
- The vegetarian movement was started in Manchester
- The first football league started in Manchester
But if you’re wanting a little more detail, here are 50+ of the most interesting facts about Manchester…
Interesting Facts About Manchester
1. The smallest bar in Europe can be found in Manchester
The Circus Tavern is not only one of Manchester’s oldest pubs, it also claims to be the smallest bar in Europe. As you can imagine, it’s pretty tiny! But it’s been going strong since 1840.
Legend suggests it got its name from the customers who used to perform at the local circus.
Often people assume that ‘smallest bar’ in Europe means the smallest pub in Europe…
What it actually refers to is the bar on which the drinks are delivered. You know, that wooden area where you order?
It remains a popular haunt for locals and is definitely worth a visit for a (slightly gimmicky) pint!
2. Manchester was named after boobs
Yes, you read that right!
The name Manchester originates from the name Mamucium or Mancunium, which is believed to derive from the Celtic language meaning ‘breast-shaped hill’. This word later evolved in to the name ‘Manchester’.
This is one of the more fun facts about Manchester to have up your sleeve!
3. Australians call the textile department, the Manchester department
The ‘Manchester Department’ of an Australian department store is where textiles, like bed linens, are kept.
It’s known as such because Manchester was once the centre of the cotton industry. Sheets and towels became known as ‘Manchester goods’ because of their origin and eventually this was shortened to just ‘Manchester’.
This phrase has fallen out of use in the UK but continues to be used in Australia.
So if an Australian asks for directions to Manchester, they’re likely looking for some new bed sheets – not the northern city!
4. The University of Manchester boasts 25 Nobel Prizes
The University of Manchester is home to a whopping 25 Nobel Prize winners, including Joseph John Thomson and Ernest Rutherford. The only Universities in the UK with more than 25 Nobel Prizes are:
- University College London (27)
- Oxford (58)
- Cambridge (90)
5. Manchester is home to the Kellogg’s factory
Despite being an American brand, the cereal company has their largest factory in Manchester! You’ll likely already be familiar with the brand, who produce Coco Pops, Rice Krispies, and a number of other classic cereals.
6. Wigan is home to the World Pie Eating Championships
The World Pie Eating Championships is held once a year at Harry’s Bar in Wigan. The contest was first held in 1992 and in 2006 a vegetarian option was added to the mix.
The man to beat is Martin Appleton Clare, who has won the championships a whopping 5 times! In 2018 he finished is pie in 19.8 seconds.
7. Stockport Viaduct is built of 11 million bricks!
End to end, it would stretch to Madrid and back! Around 600 workers were employed to build it and it took 21 months to complete. The viaduct is built of 11 million common bricks and 11,300 cubic metres of stone.
8. There are 97 train stations in Greater Manchester
Manchester is home to a whopping 97 train stations! This makes it a great city for commuters and tourists with its fantastic transport links.
9. Rolls met Royce in Manchester
The Midland Hotel is the most famous hotel in Manchester. This iconic hotel opened in 1903 and is known for its luxurious rooms. If you’re looking for a romantic staycation in the city – this is the place to be!
It’s famously also the place where Charles Stewart Rolls met Frederick Henry Royce. Rolls (a car salesman) and Royce (an engineer) met in 1904 on Wednesday 4th May. The Midland Hotel is where they decided to found a luxury car company, now known as Rolls-Royce.
You’ll find two commemorative plaques on the building marking this momentous event. And on 4th May each year, the Rolls-Royce company celebrate at the hotel.
10. There was no statue of a woman except Queen Victoria until 2019
Rather shockingly, the only statue of a woman in Manchester was that of Queen Victoria until very recently. That changed when the city erected a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement.
The statue was unveiled on 14th December 2018, 100 years after the 1918 general election. This was the first election in which women over the age of 30 could vote.
The city has since welcomed 3 other statues of women: Gracie Fields, Annie Kenney, and Lily Parr
11. Manchester’s Curry Mile has the largest concentration of Asian restaurants in the UK
Despite it’s name, the Curry Mile is actually only about half a mile long. Despite this, it’s still home to the largest concentration of Asian restaurants in the UK. You’ll find it on Wilmslow Road, in Rusholme.
The food is super delicious and incredibly affordable. Some of the best-rated restaurants along the Curry Mile include:
- Mughli Charcoal Pit – Jared Leto and Nigel Slater are both known to have eaten here!
- Sanam Sweets and Restaurant
- Ziya Asian Grill
12. The Manchester Bee has been an emblem of the city for over 150 years
The Manchester Bee has become the city’s most iconic symbol. It’s been an emblem of the city for over 150 years now.
In 1842, the early fathers of the city needed to design a coat of arms that would reflect Manchester. They used a globe with seven bees to denote work and trading across the seven seas. The worker bee is believed to reflect the people of the city and their hard work ethic.
13. Manchester is home to the longest indoor ski slope in the UK
Chill Factore in Manchester is home to the Uk’s longest real snow indoor ski slope. It’s 180 metres long and requires an average of 16 tonnes of snow per day!
Located near the famous Trafford Centre shopping centre, Chill Factore is a unique and fun activity for a rainy day!
Famous People from Manchester: Facts About Manchester
There’s a surprisingly long list of famous people who were either born or lived in Manchester at some point or another! From actors to scientists, the city has seen many a familiar face pass through its streets.
14. Benedict Cumberbatch studied in Manchester
The famous actor studied Drama at the Victoria University of Manchester! He is best known for his roles in:
- Sherlock Holmes
- The Imitation Game
- Doctor Strange
15. Oasis was formed in Manchester
The rock band Oasis was famously founded in Manchester!
Its two best-known members, Liam and Noel Gallagher, were born in Burnage in South Manchester.
Some of the band’s most famous songs are:
- Don’t Look Back in Anger
- Champagne Supernova
- Half the World Away
16. The Smiths was founded in Manchester
The band known for:
- There is a Light That Never Goes Out
- This Charming Man
- How Soon Is Now
was founded in Manchester!
The lead singer, Morrissey, was actually a huge fan of Coronation Street! He sent a number of scripts to the shows producers but they were all rejected.
17. J K Rowling came up with parts of Harry Potter in Manchester
J.K. Rowling first came up with the idea for Harry Potter on a Manchester to London train!
It’s also the location where she invented the magical game of Quidditch! She stayed a night at the Bourneville Hotel in Manchester (no longer in existence) in 1991 and by the time she’d left the next morning, she’d invented Quidditch.
18. Alan Turing taught at the University of Manchester
Alan Turing is known primarily for having cracked the Enigma Code, which is believed to have shortened the Second World War by 2 years.
Turing was sadly prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts and was given a hormone treatment often referred to as chemical castration. As a result, the term ‘Alan Turing Law’ is informally used to refer to the law that retroactively pardoned men who were convicted or cautioned under old legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.
Turing currently appears on the £50 note and a 2019 BBC series named him the greatest person of the 20th century.
Alan Turing taught the University of Manchester and you can find a statue of him located in Sackville Park.
19. The Chemical Brothers Formed at Manchester University
Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands met one another a the University of Manchester. They went on to be come The Chemical Brothers. They were originally known as The Dust Brothers but changed to ‘Chemical’ when they found another band with the same name.
20. Danny Boyle was Bron in Manchester
Famous director and producer, Danny Boyle, was born in Radcliffe in Greater Manchester. He’s best known for his work on Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and The Beach. He attended a Catholic boys grammar school in Bolton before moving to Wales to study English and Drama at University.
21. Ian Mckellen started acting in Manchester
Ian Mckellen spent many of his early years in the North of England. He was born in Burnley. His family then moved to Wigan and then later to Bolton. He started his acting career started at Bolton Little Theatre.
22. Tyson Fury was born in Manchester
The British boxer and two-time world heavyweight champion was born in Manchester and grew up there, as did his younger brother (and Love Island star) Tommy Fury.
23. Elizabeth Gaskell lived in Manchester
Famous novelist Elizabeth Gaskell lived at 84 Plymouth Grove in Manchester between 1850 and 1865. The house is now a writer’s house museum that’s open to the public.
One of her most famous novels, North and South, looks at the impact of the Industrial Revolution as was inspired by the city of Manchester.
24. Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester
Elizabeth isn’t Manchester’s only claim to literary fame. Jeanette Winterson was born in the city and grew up n Lancashire. Her first book, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, is semi-autobiographical and is set in the North of England.
Films & TV Shows Set in Manchester: Facts About Manchester
25. Peaky Blinders was filmed in Manchester
Many of the scenes in Peaky Blinders, particularly in the later series, were filmed in Manchester! Castlefield’s cobbled streets were used to transport audiences to the 1930s.
Director Anthony Byrne lives in Manchester and suggested it as a main filming location for season 6.
Specific filming locations include:
- Hotel Gotham
- Salford Lads club
You’ll also find the Peaky Blinders bar in Deansgate – a pub inspired by the television show.
26. New York scenes of The Crown were filmed in Manchester
The Crown has quickly become an iconic piece of television, beloved by people across the globe.
The scenes of Princess Diana’s solo trip to New York were surprisingly filmed in Manchester! The team created a set in the Northern Quarter. They also filmed various scenes at John Rylands library, the University of Manchester, and the former Free Trade Hall.
27. Manchester is home to the longest running TV soap opera in the world: Coronation Street
Coronations Street first aired in in 1960. Storylines follow the residents of Weatherfield, a fictional town in Salford. Originally the programme only broadcasted twice weekly but in 2017 it began airing six times per week.
It became the world’s longest-running TV soap opera in 2010 and premiered its 10,000th episode on the February 2020. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in December 2020.
28. Netflix’s The Stranger was filmed in Didsbury
The popular Netflix Series is set in the fictional town of Cedarfield. In reality, it was predominantly filmed in Manchester. Adam Price’s family home was filmed in Didsbury and the sports club scenes were filmed in Eccles.
29. Netflix’s Safe was filmed across Manchester
Another of Harlan Coben’s novels to be televised by Netflix is Safe. Again, this was filmed in Manchester. Heaven bar is the Night and Day Cafe in the Northern Quarter and Bobby’s apartment block is in Salford Quays.
30. Sherlock Holmes’ London was filmed in Manchester
This blockbuster movie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law was filmed in part in Manchester. The working-streets of London were actually filmed here, instead. They used the following roads as filming locations:
- Little Lever Street
- Bunsen Street
- Mangle Street
- Back Piccadilly
31. Captain America: The First Avenger was filmed in the Northern Quarter
Captain America saw Chris Evans take to the streets of Manchester during filming. The scene of him running through the streets of New York in a chase actually took place in Manchester! You’ll be able to spot Dale Street in this scene towards the beginning of the film!
Manchester Firsts: Facts About Manchester
Some of the most interesting facts about Manchester are the number of firsts that happened in the city. Manchester seems to be ahead of the curve in everything from football to libraries!
32. The first professional football league was founded in Manchester
The first professional football league was officially born at the Royal Hotel in Manchester on 17th April 1888. The 12 founding clubs included:
- Aston Villa
- Derby County
- Notts County
- Stoke City
- West Bromwich
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Blackburn Rovers
- Bolton Wanderers
The hotel has since been demolished but you can find a plaque where it once was, commemorating the occasion.
33. The first passenger railways launched in Manchester
The world’s first railway line specifically built to transport passengers opened in 1830. It ran between Liverpool and Manchester.
Up until this point, railways had only been used to transport goods. This marked a huge step for public transportation globally!
34. The first free library in the UK opened in Manchester
Chetham’s Library is the oldest public library in the UK. It was founded in 1653 when Humphrey Chetham left it in his will for the use of scholars and ‘the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents’.
The library now holds more than 100,000 books, 60,000 of which were published before 1851.
You can still visit the library today and they offer free tours.
35. The first electronic stored-program computer, Baby, was designed and built at University of Manchester
Baby successfully executed its first program on 21st June, 1948. This program was written by Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams, who also designed and built Baby.
36. John Rylands was Manchester’s first multi-millionaire
You might recognise this name from the famous John Rylands library.
Rylands was the owner of the largest textile manufacturing company in the UK. He entered into a partnership with his elder brothers before he even turned 18!
The company was wildly successful and he became Manchester’s first multi-millionaire.
37. Manchester Business School was the first school to offer an MBA course in the UK in 1965
Harvard University offered the first MBA programme in the world in 1908. Just under 60 years later, the MBA made its way to the UK. Manchester Business school was the first British university to offer a course of this kind.
The MBA programme continues to be a popular choice today.
38. The first Marks and Spencer store was opened in Manchester
Marks & Spencer was founded by Jewish immigrant Michael Marks and a northern man named Tom Spencer.
They originally sold their goods at a market stall in Leeds. As they became more popular, they decided to get a brick and mortar store. This was at 20 Cheetham Hill Road in Manchester.
39. First city in the world to commemorate its LGBT history with artwork in the city by asking a local artist to set rainbow tiles into flagstones across the city
If you look closely you’ll find rainbow tiles set into the flagstones of the city. These make up the LGBT Heritage Trail. They were designed by Mark Kennedy and placed at various areas of importance for the LGBT community.
You’ll find them at the Manchester Magistrates Court, where gay men were prosecuted for their sexuality, and Manto, one of the first openly gay bars in the Village, as well as a number of other places.
40. The Bridgewater Canal is the first artificial waterway fully independent of natural rivers
The Bridgewater Canal was built by Francis Egerton to transport coal from his mines. As the first waterway to be built without natural rivers, it becomes a model for the canal that came after to it.
41. The atom was split for the first time in Manchester
Ernest Rutherford became the first person to create an artificial nuclear reaction in 1917 at the University of Manchester. This event is popularly known as ‘splitting the atom’.
Historic Manchester Facts: Facts About Manchester
It’s time for some interesting historic facts about Manchester! This city has a rich history, particularly of social change and revolution. Here are some of the best or most surprising moments in Manchester’s history.
42. Manchester was home to the birth of the Suffragette movement
Manchester is proud to be the hometown of the Suffragette movement. Emmeline Pankhurst lived at 62 Nelson Street from 1898 – 1907. This is where the first suffragette meeting took place! This was the movement that helped women gain the right to vote.
You can now visit the Pankhurst centre at the same address, where there’s a museum dedicated to the suffragette movement.
43. The vegetarian movement was founded in Salford
Interestingly, the British vegetarian movement was also founded in Manchester! In fact, it was founded in Salford in 1847. Reverend William Cowherd led the Bible Christian Church and encouraged members to follow a vegetarian diet.
He is believed to have told his congregants – ‘if God had meant us to eat meat, then it would have come to us in edible form, as is the ripened fruit’.
44. Manchester is home of the black pudding
Given that Manchester was the birthplace of British vegetarianism, it’s slightly ironic that it’s also the home of black pudding!
If you’re not already familiar, black pudding is a mixture of pig’s blood and cereals inside pork skin.
It’s a popular component of a traditional English breakfast and was created in the North Manchester town of Bury!
45. The Gunpowder Plot was (not) plotted in Manchester
There’s a popular rumour that Guy Fawkes thought up the infamous Gunpowder Plot at Ordsall Hall in Manchester. This was thanks to William Harrison, who published a book on the subject in 1841.
This rumour continues to circulate today. However, there’s no evidence whatsoever of any truth in it!
Ordsall Hall is a very interesting place in any case and is said to be haunted by many a ghost!
46. Greater Manchester wasn’t added as a Royal Mail postal county until 1996
If you live in Manchester, you may find that you still have Cheshire or Lancashire on your address. That’s because Greater Manchester wasn’t added as Royal Mail postal county until 1996!
47. Manchester started the Industrial revolution
Manchester is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
It’s often dubbed the world’s first industrial city. The invention of steam power impacted production in the UK and Manchester quickly became home to mills, factories, and warehouses. The city played a huge part in the manufacturing of cotton and the textile industry.
You can learn about the full story of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester at the Science & Industry Museum.
General Facts About Manchester
48. 2.8 million people live in Manchester
49. UNESCO recognised Manchester as a City of Literature in 2017
50. Over 100 languages are spoken in Manchester
51. Manchester United is reportedly the most popular football club in the world
52. Manchester is the 3rd most populated city in the UK