Manchester (Sax. Mamcestre), a municipal, parliamentary, and (since 188S) county borough of Lancashire, is situated on the east bank of the Irwell, 31 miles E. of Liverpool and 187 NNW. of London. Salford is on the opposite bank; and the two boroughs, connected by sixteen bridges (besides railway viaducts), may be considered one city. Manchester is the acknowledged centre of the greatest manufacturing district in the world, and is surrounded by a ring of populous suburban townships, many of which have by degrees been incorporated with it. Pop. (1801) 75,275 ; (1851) 303,382 ; (1871) 351,189 ; (1901) 543,969 - or with the county borough of Salford, 764,925. In and around Manchester and Salford two-thirds of the entire cotton manufactures of the United Kingdom are located; and there are some 700 other industries practised in the district, including bleaching, dyeing, with silk-works and manufactories of all kinds of animal and vegetable fibre. Both boroughs were enfranchised by the Reform Bill of 1832, Manchester returning two members and Salford one member to parliament. The Reform Bill of 1867 gave Manchester three and Salford two members, and that of 1885 six and three members respectively.
The Cathedral, or ' Old Church' (1422), is a fine Gothic structure, and between 1845 and 1868 underwent complete restoration; it comprises a stalled choir of great beauty, a retrochoir, lady chapel, lateral chapels, chapter-house, and a tower 139 feet high, with ten bells. Besides many Anglican, Roman Catholic, and dissenting churches, Manchester has 5 Jewish synagogues, 5 German churches, a Greek church, and an Armenian church. The magnificent Gothic town-hall (1868-83), by Waterhouse, is triangular in form, built of brick, faced with freestone and granite, and cost £1,053,000. Its great hall is decorated with twelve remarkable pictures illustrating the history of Manchester, by Madox Brown. The clock-tower, 286 feet high, contains a fine peal of twenty-one bells. In the Royal Infirmary (1755) 32,000 patients are treated annually. The Royal Institution (1825-30), a noble Doric edifice by Barry, contains a gallery of paintings, a school of design, and a lecture theatre. The Royal Exchange (1864-74), an imposing building in the Italian style, has a meeting-hall with the vast area of 5170 square yards. The Free-trade Hall (1856) holds 5000 people, and stands on the scene of the 'Peterloo Massacre' The Assize Courts (1864), by Waterhouse, are a splendid specimen of Gothic architecture, and cost £100,000. The Literary and Philosophical Society (1789) has a valuable scientific library and a chemical laboratory, and publishes memoirs. There are about seventy other societies and institutions.
The old water-supply was collected on the slopes of Blackstone Edge, distant about 20 miles ; but in view of the rapid increase of the population the city council purchased Thirlmere Lake in Cumberland, from which comes, by works 100 miles long and carried out in 1885-94, a further supply of 25,000,000 gallons daily. There are now in Manchester and Salford eleven parks, with eight recreation grounds, covering altogether 300 acres. Manchester was the first borough to take advantage in 1852 of the Free Libraries Act. Manchester in 1890 received the Whitworth Institute, a park, library, and museum from the Whitworth legatees, to be incorporated with the Technical School and School of Art. The Chetham Library, founded by Humphrey Chetham in 1653, contains 30,000 volumes, with many rare and curious books and manuscripts, and was the first free library in England. Mention may be made also of the Athenaeum, Royal Exchange, Portico, and Law and Foreign Libraries, etc. Among statues and monuments are those of the Duke of Wellington, Sir R. Peel, Watt, Dalton, Prince Albert, Bishop Fraser, Dr Joule, John Bright, Cobden, Humphrey Chetham, Cromwell, and O. Heywood.
The Grammar-school was founded by Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, in 1515, had a revenue of £4000 a year in 1825, and in 1868 was reorganised for 350 boys, with scholarships at Brazenose, Oxford, and St John's, Cambridge. There is also a hospital school, founded in 1651 by Humphrey Chetham, for maintaining, educating, and apprenticing forty (now 100) healthy and poor boys. Owens College (1851; chartered as an independent Victoria University, 1903) is due to the liberality of John Owens, who died in 1846, leaving by will £100,000 for the purpose; and in 1870 a further sum of £90,000 was expended on new buildings, etc. The college has professors and lecturers in the Arts, Science, and Law department, and in the Medical department, with departments for women and for evening classes, and excellent library and museum. The students number over 1100 (including about 250 women), besides evening scholars. The Technical School, with which in 1883 was incorporated the Mechanics' Institute, and in 1890 the Manchester Whitworth Institute, gives thorough technical training in theoretical and practical engineering, designing, spinning and weaving, printing, dyeing, and bleaching, metallurgy, chemistry, etc. The sanitary condition of Manchester is not a satisfactory one, and in consequence the death-rate, averaging 24 per 1000, is abnormally high ; much has been done to improve matters, but the smoke nuisance remains, and the disease and death dealing river, the Irwell, which flows through a dense population, receiving sewage from more than a million persons and pollution from thousands of public works.
Manchester is mentioned as a Roman station (Mancunium), and was called by the Anglo-Saxons Manigceaster. In the 13th century there was a fulling-mill, and dyeing yarns or cloth was practised. Camden, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, writes of it as surpassing neighbouring towns in elegance and populousness, with woollen and cotton manufactures, a church, market, and college. In 1724 Stukely describes it as ' the largest, most rich, populous, and busy village in England. Here are about 2400 families, and their trade, which is incredibly large, consists of fustians, tickings, girth-webbs, and tapes.' The great revolution in the industrial life of England - the development of the factory system - began here about the middle of the 18th century, and was accompanied by the application of many inventions, notably the steam-engine, to the service of man. In 1720 the Irwell was made navigable. In 1762 the Bridgewater Canal put Manchester in communication with the coalfields of Lancashire and the salt-mines of Cheshire, and made an outlet to the sea. In 1830 Manchester had its first perfect railway. To render 'Cottonopolis' an inland seaport, the gigantic work of making a ship-canal from East-ham near the mouth of the Mersey, a distance of 35 1/2 miles, was carried out in 1887-94, at a cost of £15,500,000. A perfect network of railways and canals radiates from Manchester in all directions. It became a city and the see of a bishop in 1847, and since 1893 its mayor is officially lord-mayor. The Anti-corn-law League had its origin here; and the Manchester School was a party of English Radicals, including Cobden, Bright, and Milner Gibson, which identified itself with free-trade principles and resistance to government interference (as with factory labour), supported a policy of laissez faire, and in foreign affairs was a peace party, insisting strongly on non-intervention. See works on Manchester by Whitaker (1771), Prentice (1850-53), Reilly (1861), Proctor (1880), Axon (18S6), Saintsbury (1887), Crowther (1894), and Perkins (1901).