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The Hulme District & Suburb of Manchester

The District of Hulme derives its name from the Danish word meaning a small island or land surrounded by marsh. As Hulme is surrounded by water on three sides (the River Irwell, the Medlock and the Cornbrook) it takes little to imagine that it would have been surrounded by marshes at times of river flood - hence its desirability as a defensive position on dry land.
From its early beginning as a Norse settlement, it remained predominantly farming land until the 18th century, by which time it had acquired the half timbered Hulme Hall. The true date of the Hall is unknown, but one Adam Rossendale is known to have been living there at the end of the 13th century. By the time of the Civil War it had come into the possession of Sir Thomas Prestwich, who, unfortunately was a supporter of King Charles I and therefore had his lands confiscated by the victorious Parliamentarians at the end of the wars.
It later belonged to the Bland Family, and then came into the ownership of the Duke of Bridgewater, the canal builder. The building was demolished in 1845 to make way for the railways.
Hulme suffered badly at the time of the Industrial Revolution - its central position doomed it to be the site of the most awful urbanisation and mechanisation. Mills, railways and smoking chimneys soon blotted out the sun and factories covered the hitherto rural idyll. The first half of the 19th century saw its resident population expand 50 times! Such a massive population influx forced the rapid building of as many houses as possible into the limited space available. Living conditions were appalling, sanitary facilities were non-existent, disease was rampant and mortality rates were very high.
So pitiful were conditions in Hulme that in 1844 Manchester Borough Council had to quickly pass new laws prohibiting the further building of such back-to-back slum dwellings. Those that existed, however, were not to be demolished, and many remained in use until well into the 20th century.
Conditions in Hulme, more than any other district of Manchester drew world attention to the City, to the Industrial Revolution and to the Socio-economic and Political implications of uncontrolled industrialisation. See Working & Living Conditions.
Despite all this there were some notable and unexpected successes to emerge out of Hulme. It was here, for example, that Henry Rolls and Charles Royce set up their Rolls Royce motor car factory in 1904.
In the 1960s large scale slum clearances were under way, and most of Victorian Hulme was demolished, only to be replaced by concrete tower blocks of such ugliness and severity that they soon became universally unpopular as places to live. Poverty, unemployment and crime dominated the life of the area until they too in turn were demolished in the early 1990s to make way for more conventional two-storey houses and gardens. Nevertheless, Hulme has struggled to shake off the unfortunate reputation it gained during the 1970s and 1980s, despite numerous new initiatives. Gradually, however, successes are being achieved, and regeneration is taking place thanks to new shopping complexes, sports and medical centres, despite the menace of street gangs, gun violence and drug dealing.
Hulme's close proximity to the main University campus has made it increasingly popular as a place for students to live and to seek entertainment.

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.