Manchester UK Districts



Districts & Suburbs of Manchester

The district of Harpurhey was named in the early 14th century after William Harpour who enclosed some 80 acres of land that were formerly part of the Forest of Blackley. Haeg is an old word for an enclosed area - hence Harpour's haeg . At that time it was pristine land, pleasant, fertile and watered by the River Irk which ran through it and plentiful with fish.
Later in 14th century the land was acquired by the Hulton family, and it remained a largely farming community right up to the beginning of the 19th century.
By this time it had adopted its current name of Harpurhey and had developed as a small rural community alongside the Manchester-Middleton Turnpike road. Tolls were collected to pay for the upkeep of the road until 1879.
In 1812 the land was bought by the Andrew family, whose trade was in fabric dyeing. Harpurhey, along with Crumpsall and Blackley were to become areas that specialised in dyeing and bleaching, and the Andrews Dyeworks came to dominate the geographic and economic affairs of the district.
During the 19th century, the rural village grew into a major "out-of-town" industrial dyeing centre, and gradually acquired schools, chapels, Sunday schools, and eventually a major cemetery, Harpurhey Cemetery, later to become the Manchester General Cemetery.
This major development was opened in 1868 and included landscaped lawns, catacombs, chapels of rest for different denominations and a mortuary.
Apart from dyeing, other industries gradually sprang up in the district, including engineering, rope making, a wire works and Wilsons Brewery.
Queens Park is also a major feature of the district. Now an Art Gallery and public park, it is an attractive and popular break in the urban sprawl of northern Manchester. For many years Harpurhey has also been well known for its Dogs Home, where the stray dogs of Manchester either end their days or are found new homes.
During the latter years of the 20th century, Harpurhey acquired an unfavourable reputation. Dominated by traffic and much neglected it fell prey to graffiti artists and vandals.
However, significant improvements, rebuilding and redevelopment have, and are still taking place to raise its profile and to improve its fabric, which thus far seem to be achieving considerable success.

See also:

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.