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Effects of the City’s Industrial Revolution on East Manchester

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East Manchester was once a crucial part of the city’s industrial revolution. With both the Rochdale and Ashton canal running through from the east to the centre of Manchester and the Manchester Ship Canal, they connected the east of Manchester to the rest of the world. The presence industry had on the east of Manchester, lining both canals. The boom in industry meant a requirement for housing which led to densely built terraced housing and an over population of the area. As shown, the thousands of small terraced houses are very tightly arranged with no apparent access to nearby green space. Philip Park, situated just east of Bradford Road Gas Works, is the only real access to green space, and presumably fresh air. It was created in 1846, covered 31 acres and was named after local MP Mark Philips who was committed to providing green space for the rapidly growing urban population (Grant, 2010). In just ten years the area of undeveloped land between mills and terraced houses was in-filled with more housing to support the further expanding industry.

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The first world war meant the mills were no longer able to export cotton worldwide. From being the creators of the cotton industry, by the 1950’s Britain was importing more cotton than it was making as foreign countries were able to produce it more cheaply (Owen, 2000). Following the decline in cotton production, one mill a week was closing through to the 1970s and come 1980 the textile industry in the north west was effectively finished. Alongside the decline of the textile industry, coal mines throughout east Manchester were shutting due to substantial subsidence problems to neighbouring factories and residential properties. Between 1962 and 1972 Greater Manchester ‘suffered a net loss of just over 30,000 manufacturing manual jobs, which represented a decline of one-third’ (Ward, 2002). There was no new industry for the large workforce to move towards for employment.

This boom and bust of multiple industries created the perfect storm for a rapid downhill spiral of an entire region. The tightly packed and overcrowded terraced streets started to empty as families moved out of east Manchester in search of employment. Large numbers of empty properties and a high unemployment rate meant an increase in crime was inevitable.

Alongside the decline in industries successive governments would inject millions in to various communities in east Manchester in an attempt to tackle and reverse mass deprivation. In 1969 Labour spent £5 million razing terraces in Beswick and building flats which were later deemed structurally unsound and demolished in 1982. In 1982 the Conservatives launched the East Manchester Initiative spending £7 million on demolishing redundant ex-industrial units and landscaping these sites. However, this large-scale clearance left many areas of waste land scattered throughout east Manchester that were in theory ready to be developed but remained vacant after private investment failed to materialise. Through the 1980’s and 1990’s various politicians would have a go at finding a solution to the spiralling deprivation in the area.

Ultimately, the remaining residents of east Manchester were further segregated in small communities by the clearance of large areas of former industrial land. Each of the various government initiatives with their promise of much needed money and the impression that this time round it will be different, was soon like white noise to the remaining residents. They would go through waves of consultations, flashy marketing schemes and never saw long lasting improvements.

One example of poor design is the Cardroom Estate. Built in the 1970’s, it contained cul-de-sacs and homes accessible only by a network of footpaths. Although initially the development was well received by its residents who took pride in their homes, the design and uncertainty of tenants ultimately meant the design leant itself to fostering criminal activities. The escalation of these criminal activities and undesirable tenants removed all community spirit. However, it is worth noting a similar estate in Openshaw, the Peterchurch estate, also build in the 1970’s to replace slum terraces, had a very similar design consisting of walkways, culs-de-sac and passageway under properties has to this day not been demolished and has consistently thrived with a strong and happy community.

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