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Manchester Area Guide

Town Hall, Manchester Image courtesy of Flickr user Andrea Vail

Manchester has long been a city of firsts. It expanded rapidly in the 19th century because of a boom in textile manufacturing, resulting in Manchester becoming the first industrialised city, and it had one of the world's first train stations. The atom was first split in the city, and the first stored-program computer was developed here, too.

It is a city of real beauty and charm, too. The expansion during the Industrial Revolution saw the construction of many Victorian buildings and monuments. For those who prefer natural beauty, there are the Pennines and the Peak District to the east and southeast.

Manchester has about six general areas. The city centre has undergone extensive regeneration since the mid-1990s. Now the city centre is revitalised, and its optimism shows. There are many corporate headquarters, venues, museums and shopping opportunities just about everywhere you turn.

The Northern Quarter is where all the creative types go. You will be hard pressed to find a chain shop in this area, but Oldham Street and its side lanes have plenty of boutiques, cafes, restaurants and galleries.

Piccadilly, Chinatown and the Gay Village offer lots in the way of bars, clubs and restaurants, but it really comes to life with its festivals. The Gay Village hosts Manchester Pride, a ten day festival that includes events, food, music and a Pride Parade. Chinatown kicks things off with a gigantic Chinese New Year festival, complete with fireworks and a giant dancing dragon.

Oxford Road and its surrounding areas are called the 'cultural corridor' by locals. That is where many of the city's theatres, museums and galleries are located. University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University are also there, so the area attracts many students.

Castlefield & Deansgate Locks is dominated by a vast Victorian viaduct and the Roman fort of Mamucium, giving the area a real sense of history.

Salford is its own city, but it is included in the metropolitan borough. This sense of separateness from Manchester permeates the whole city. It has its own cultural area, near Chapel Street, as well as its own foodie and music scenes.

Despite this ground-breaking history, variety and charm, most people think of music and sport when they think of Manchester.

Demographics

The Greater Manchester area has 2.5 million people, and the city itself has just under 400,000 people living in it. The 2011 census showed that 66.7% of the population was white, 17.1% of people were Asian, 8.6% were black 4.7% were mixed race, 1.9% were Arab and 1.2% were of another ethnic heritage.

Manchester has the second-lowest proportion of the population in employment of any local authority in the UK, though it is in part because of the large number of students in the city. The level of education on offer means that Manchester has a higher proportion of students than any other local authorities. Unemployment does seem to be localised to certain areas, though. Trafford, for example, has low levels of unemployment and weekly wages that are higher than the national average.

Education

Manchester's history and wealth has led to some great schools. Ofcom has rated many primary schools as 'outstanding', including St Philip's Church of England Primary School and Abbott Community Primary School. Its outstanding secondary schools include Stretford High School and Loreto College. Amongst Manchester's most famous secondary schools is the Manchester Grammar School, which was established in 1515.

The city has several opportunities for further education, too. The University of Manchester is the nation's largest non-collegiate university, and it offered the first MBA course in the UK. There is also Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Law.

Transport

Manchester and all of North West England are served by Manchester Airport. There is also an extensive rail network that runs from Manchester throughout the country. Its two main stations are Piccadilly and Victoria.

The Manchester Metrolink introduced the UK to modern light rail tram systems, as it was the first one in the country. The network has three lines, which connect 37 stations.

Manchester is incredibly well served by buses. More that 50 bus companies operate in the Greater Manchester area, serving the entire region. There is also the free bus service called Metroshuttle, which takes people around the business districts.

A canal network built during the Industrial Revolution is still in use, though mainly for leisure purposes.

Amenities and Shopping

As mentioned in the introduction, Manchester is renowned internationally for its music scene and sports. Still, there is much more on offer here.

Music

Manchester is the home of many legendary bands, including Herman's Hermits, The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses and Oasis. The main venue in the city is the Manchester Arena, the busiest indoor arena in the world. Mid-sized venues include the Manchester Apollo and the Manchester Academy, while bands hoping to live up to their predecessors' success include the Band on the Wall, the Night and Day Café and The Deaf Institute.

For those who want more refined music, there are the Hallé and the BBC Philharmonic orchestras, as well as a chamber orchestra, the Manchester Camerata. Manchester is also the home of brass band music, traditional music in the north of England. Many of the UK's leading brass bands are from the city and neighbouring areas.

Sport

The rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United splits the city in two, so it is hardly a surprise that sport is important to Mancunians.

The city built several sporting facilities for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, including the Manchester Velodrome. This facility has come to international attention as the home of British cycling. It is there that British Cycling, UCI ProTeam Team Sky and Sky Track Cycling are all based.

The Manchester Giants play basketball in the Manchester Evening News Arena, as does the Manchester Storm, the ice hockey team.

There are many indoor pools and sports facilities open to the public, and there is a golf course in Heaton Park.

Theatres, museums and galleries

Manchester has a vibrant performing arts scene. There is the Manchester Opera House and the Dancehouse for opera and dance fans. Other renowned venues for plays and other performances include the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Palace Theatre.

Manchester's museums cover everything from its history to science and world-famous art. The Manchester Museum has exhibits on Egyptology and natural history, while the Manchester Art Gallery has one of the most significant collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the country. The Roman fort of Mamucium, where the city was initially founded, is a great place to explore.

Nightlife

Manchester sparkles at night. With more than 500 licensed bars and pubs in the centre of the city, Manchester hosts more than 110,000 people each weekend night. Amongst these are Taps Bar, where you pull your own pints, Northern, where every night brings entertainment from poetry to DJs, and Circus Tavern, a bar that dates back to the 1790s.

Shopping

Manchester is the centre of the north west of England, so it is a real shopping destination. The UK's largest inner city shopping centre, the Manchester Arndale has over 240 shops, ranging from high street staples to department stores. The Trafford Centre has everything a trendsetter needs, all in one place. Deansgate is where all the haute fashions can be found, with brands like Armani, Hermes and DKNY lining the street. The Triangle, built in the renovated Corn Exchange, has lots of independent boutiques.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.