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Didsbury


Districts of Manchester

The name of Didsbury is derived from the Saxon " Dyddi's burg ", probably referring to a man known by the name Dyddi whose manor, stronghold or township it then was. Didsbury has a long unbroken history since those times, including the site of St James Church whose origin even predates Saxon times. It was here in the 14th century that victims of the Black Death were buried. Several rebuilds and five centuries later and the church is still standing and in use today. Adjacent to St James is the Old Parsonage, now known as Fletcher Moss after a later resident, whose ghost is still claimed to walk its floors.
Fletcher Moss in its time has been an Art Gallery, but is best known for its Botanical Gardens, open to the public and well worth a visit. Fletcher Moss is a small hidden-away house in a charming setting and well worth the time and trouble to find. A high walled garden borders this Georgian house, named after Fletcher Moss, a Manchester alderman who purchased it in 1884. There is a small orchid house, many rare tree specimens, a rose garden and a rich and extensive collection of herbaceous plants. Next door to Didsbury Parish Church and Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens.
Before Roman times, Didsbury was a pleasant wooded area close to the River Mersey on the south side of the present day City of Manchester. By the 13th century there are records of a water mill beside the Mersey in the village, and this continued grinding corn right up to its closure in 1890. It was demolished only as recently as 1952.
Palatine Road and Barlow Moor Road were the rally point of Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian army for its attack on Manchester from the south.
Maps of the mid-nineteenth century show a profusion of small strip farms in the area growing crops as diverse as corn, flax, hemp and hay, as well as sheep grazing for wool production. Didsbury itself was not directly affected by the industrial Revolution though it saw its population explode fifteen-fold between 1801 and 1901.
Lying as it does on a major route south out of Manchester (the A34 trunk Road to Oxford), it was inevitable that the road should be turnpiked as a toll road in the 18th century, and that over subsequent decades it should see various transformations. First, the horse-drawn tramcar, then the electric tram and finally, in 1939, motor omnibuses. By the end of the 19th century the turnpike was terminated and Wilmslow Road became an open free highway - all this at the time that the Midland Railway line was built, connecting Didsbury directly with Manchester Central Railway Station (now G-MEX). Didsbury Station was closed in 1967, though the station at East Didsbury is still operational and busy.
In Parrs Wood Lane, the old Capitol Cinema saw a transformation into the ABC Television Studios in the 1950s - it was here such popular TV shows as "Opportunity Knocks " and the "Jimmy Clitheroe Show" were made.
Didsbury is also the home of the Shirley Institute in the Towers, established in 1910 as a centre for the study of textiles and home of the British Cotton Industry Research Association.
Today, Didsbury is a pleasant, prosperous and desirable dormitory area of the City, and houses here are much sought after. It is also a popular area for local university students to seek out accommodation, with a good number of housing and apartment developments. The village itself has a wide range of quality shops and is thereby virtually self-sufficient, though there are recent developments at East Didsbury where major shopping, entertainment and leisure complexes have been constructed.
The Lapwing Lane and Burton Road area have also recently seen the establishment of a thriving café and restaurant culture offering cuisine of various ethnic types including Indian, Thai and Afro-Caribbean and a formerly quiet back road has now become the centre of a new and vigorous bustling nightlife.

See also :

NOTE:
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.

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This page last updated 14 Nov 11.