Ancoats district looking towards Manchester city centre
Aerial photo Image provided courtesy of Webb Aviation © 2008.
www.webbaviation.co.uk - all rights reserved.
The Old English
name for the district of Ancoats was "ana cots" which
meant "old cottages". By the beginning of the thirteenth
century it was already known as Elnecot. Land in Ancoats was
bequeathed in the 14th century by Henry de Ancotes. Alas, the old
cottages have long disappeared and the ravages of the Industrial Revolution
have left a more significant impact upon the district.
late 18th century, Ancoats had still retained a semi-rural aspect,
but by 1800 it had been transformed into an effective industrial suburb,
dominated as it was by the new steam driven Murray Mill by 1789 and
the recently completed Ashton Canal which provided material and goods
transportation in and out of the city. Many other mills
followed, including the Decker Mill (also by the Murray brothers),
the New Mill, Beehive Mill, Little Mill, Paragon Mill, Royal Mill
and Pin Mill.
textile spinning and weaving, Ancoats was also a major hat manufacturing
district , and the William Plant Hat Works continued to operate from
their location on Great Ancoats Street until the early 1970s.
of Ancoats was the setting for several novels by Howard
Spring, including "Fame is the Spur", as well
as Isabella Banks' novel, "The
ways, it was the back-to-back slum dwellings of Ancoats textile workers
that typified outsider's views of Manchester, and which were instrumental
in forming Friedrich Engels
views on the need for revolution - it was Ancoats which he described
in his book "Conditions of the Working Class in England"
Immigrants (Jews, Poles and Italians) came in great numbers from continental
Europe. The Italians especially formed a virtual colony in the district
became known as "Little Italy. For most of the 19th and early
20th centuries an Italian presence would be concentrated in Ancoats
around George Leigh Street, Jersey Street, and Sanitary Street. For
many years it was easier to order a pint of beer in local pubs in
Italian than in English.
was not, however, all slum dwellings. Ancoats Old Hall is said to
have been as fine a house as any in Manchester in its day - its imposing
black and white timber structure dominated the corner of Every Street
for many years.
saw the arrival of the railways in Ancoats, as the Midland Railway
chose the district in which to build its goods yard on a site which
once house over 3000 people. Ardwick and Ashburys Railway Stations
were also created as suburban stops on the Manchester-Sheffield and
have long been of a cosmopolitan mix - Polish, Irish and Italian communities
all settled in the area, as in its heyday it was an excellent place
to find work. Many of the mills which formed its most recent character
have long disappeared - the best remaining are now listed Grade II
buildings. New plans are in hand for a significant regeneration of
the area and the creation of a new urban village in the district.
acres of Ancoats have now been declared a Conservation Area and a
dozen or more listed buildings are located within the Area - mostly
mills and associated buildings. The Ancoats Buildings Preservation
Trust (ABPT), a registered charity based at the old Beehive Mill in
Bengal Street/Jersey Street, has been set up to preserve the neglected
historic and architecturally significant buildings in the Conservation
Area and to find new uses for these old buildings. Various Lottery
Heritage Projects are under way in the district, including a £7
million grant for the restoration of of the Grade II Listed Murray
Mills. See also Manchester
Urban Village Company has also been recently established to promote
the district and to foster the sympathetic development of its historical
buildings and cultural architectural heritage. More info at: http://www.ancoatsbpt.co.uk.
We have made reference to several sources in compiling this web page,
but must make special mention of the Breedon Books' "Illustrated
History of Manchester's Suburbs" by Glynis Cooper, of which we
made particular use. Information about this book can be found on our
Books About Manchester webpage.