The Ten Boroughs of Greater Manchester
divisions of the region give rise to a great deal of confusion.
Outsiders invariably refer to the wider region of the North West
of England as "Manchester". Geographical terms like "Manchester",
"Lancashire" or "Greater Manchester" are freely interchanged as
if they all meant the same thing - much to the annoyance of the
many residents of the 10 towns which now make up the Greater Metropolitan
County of Manchester.
whether the dialect is Oldham, Cheadle, Gatley, Westhoughton,
Macclesfield or Rossendale, outsiders refer to them all as "Mancunian"
or "Lancashire". It is little wonder that the peoples of Salford,
Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside, Trafford, Bury, Bolton
and Wigan fiercely defend their right to be called Stopfordians
(natives of Stockport), Ashtonians (natives of Ashton), Mancunians
(natives of Manchester), or Boltonians (etc), and it is right
and proper that they should. Salford, for example, was an important
township when Manchester was little more than a hamlet on Salford's
outskirts - Salfordians grow visibly annoyed at being called Mancunians.
See Greater Manchester following:
is not unique to North West England, of course. Manchester is,
first and foremost, a city, with a clear boundary marking where
it ends and where Stockport, Salford, Oldham, or any of the other
9 Metropolitan Boroughs begin. Manchester is also one of the discreet
Boroughs of Greater Manchester Metropolitan County which was invented
in 1974 as an administrative entity. At that time its new Metropolitan
boundaries were created, comprising 2 cities in their own right
(Manchester and Salford), six towns (formerly County Boroughs
- Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Stockport, Rochdale and Wigan), and 2
newly created boroughs - Tameside and Trafford. These last two
stand out as somewhat of an oddity as there is no geographical
place called Tameside or Trafford.
For more than a decade after 1974 the county had a two tier system
of local government, whereby district councils shared power with
the Greater Manchester County Council. The county council was
abolished in 1986, and the metropolitan boroughs effectively became
unitary authority areas. However, the metropolitan county has
continued to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference,
and as a ceremonial county, has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff.
Several county-wide services were co-ordinated through the Association
of Greater Manchester Authorities up until April 2011, when the
Greater Manchester Combined Authority was established as the strategic
county-wide authority for Greater Manchester, taking on functions
and responsibilities for economic development, regeneration and
The title of "Greater Manchester" is a largely convenient
entity for practical administrative purposes, though all the 10
metropolitan borough towns of which it is comprised have a real
confederation and act as one body in many respects, though it
still remains in many ways chiefly a postal, geographical and
The Metropolitan Boroughs of Greater Manchester
are (in alphabetical order):
Visitors need to be certain
what they mean when making such distinctions, and tread warily lest
local sensibilities are offended by well-meaning though insensitive
gaffs. (The author frequently receives irate letters and email from
individuals defending their God-given right to belong to Lancashire
and not to what they see as a fictitious and nebulous administrative
body as Greater Manchester).
To demonstrate the sensitivity of such terminology, when the boundaries
of Metropolitan Boroughs were created in 1974, there was a proposal
to rename the new Oldham Metropolitan Borough as 'Newham' or 'Milltown'
- the proposal was, needless to say, most heavily defeated on account
of considerable local opposition to it. There was even a move afoot
to name what eventually became Greater Manchester as 'SELNEC' - (South
East Lancashire North East Cheshire). That too, happily, was booted
out of court.
Further, when in 1986 the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County, along
with all other Metropolitan Counties, was formally abolished, much of
its administration infrastructure remained in place (just to confuse
things), and for several years the costly County Hall built on the corner
of Piccadilly gardens stood forlorn and empty.
Hence, fierce arguments take place between two opposing lobbies - those
who maintain that Bolton, Bury, Oldham, etc, are back in the County
of Lancashire, (and that they never really left it), and those who believe
they are now firmly fixed in the County of Greater Manchester.
Bearing in mind this understandable partisan spirit, it's clear that
we need to distinguish between Manchester (the City), Greater Manchester
(the Metropolitan County) and the County of Lancashire. We have tried
to do this and are most happy for the people of Wigan, Rochdale and
the other townships to consider themselves in Lancashire, and for Stockport
to remain in Cheshire. As to Trafford, which acquired lands both from
Cheshire and Lancashire, we cannot say. However, Manchester itself is
clearly a focal point. Whatever you decide to call the place, it is
unequivocally the hub of a large county.
The City of Manchester viewed from the
south. Aerial Photograph Image Courtesy of www.webbaviation.co.uk
Local civic pride and sensibilities aside,
most people throughout the region naturally look to Manchester
as its headquarters. In this website we have used Manchester as
a base, and clearly the large part of it is devoted to the City
and to the townships within its sphere of influence, but the website
also ventures as far north as Hadrian's
Wall, and the Lake District,
and south to the Staffordshire
Potteries - from Liverpool
and Chester in the West,
and to the Peak District of
Derbyshire in the east. Due to its centrally located position,
Manchester is a good base for wider tourism throughout this region,
an important regional hub, and we have therefore included places
that might reasonably visited by motorcar or public transport
and back in a day trip. (See "Day
Trips From Manchester").
"Gules, three bendlets enhanced Or; a chief
argent, thereon on waves of the sea a ship under sail proper.
On a wreath of colours, a terrestrial globe semée of bees volant,
all proper. On the dexter side a heraldic antelope argent, attired,
and chain reflexed over the back Or, and on the sinister side
a lion guardant Or, murally crowned Gules; each charged on the
shoulder with a rose of the last. Motto : Concilio Et Labore"".
The Shield: red (Gules) with three gold (Or)
bands drawn diagonally across to the right hand side. The white
(Argent) top segment (the Chief), shows a ship at sea in full
sail. This is a reference to the city's trading base and to the
Manchester Ship Canal. Crest : On a multicoloured wreath stands
a terrestrial globe, signifying Manchester's world trade, and
covered by a swarm of flying bees. The bee was adopted in the
19th century as a symbol of industry - Manchester being the birthplace
of the Industrial Revolution. Supporters : On the left a heraldic
antelope with a chain attached to a gold (Or) collar, representing
engineering industries, and hanging at the shoulder, the red rose
of Lancashire, in which county Manchester once was. On the right
a golden lion stands guardant (facing us), crowned with a red
(Gules) castle (a reference to the Roman fort at Castlefield from
which the city originated). The lion also wears the Lancashire
Rose. Motto: "Consilio et Labore" - loosely translated "wisdom
are continually shifting, and even as this is being written mechanisms
are in motion to restore the old historic counties of Lancashire
and Cheshire to their former status. The Greater Metropolitan Counties,
(so much disliked for so long by so many), seem doomed to eventual
removal from the popular consciousness. Already new Unitary Authorities
like Blackburn & Darwen, Blackpool, Halton and Warrington have
been created, moving the administrative centres away from the old
County Councils and Metropolitan Counties.
For several years now Ordnance Survey maps and road atlases have
ceased depicting the administrative counties of Greater Manchester
and Merseyside, but show the Unitary Authorities of Southern Lancashire
and North Cheshire instead. This suggests that towns like Blackburn
and Blackpool may no longer be shown as part of the County of Lancashire.
(More confusing than ever) !!
Lancashire is an old historic
county which lies mainly to the north and west of the City of
Manchester. Preston is the County Town and administrative centre
of the county (and not Lancaster,
as many would, logically, think).
Before regional reorganisation in 1974 there existed the City
of Manchester, surrounded by several "satellite" County
Boroughs - these included Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale and Wigan,
and were unequivocally located in the County of Lancashire.
Salford was a city in its own right and therefore already of independent
county status like the City of Manchester itself. Stockport lay
in the County of Cheshire.
Most local residents in these old Lancashire townships still regarded
themselves as Lancastrians and so passionate did many feel about
the loss of "their native county" that they formed an
association called 'Friends of Real Lancashire'. (See: http://www.forl.co.uk).
This movement proudly defends the historic County Boundaries.
is called Lancashire, not Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside
or part of Cheshire."
Thus, many Boltonians
fiercely insist that they live in Lancashire, not in Greater
Manchester, as do many Oldhamers, Wiganers and Rochdalians!
Even more confusingly, parts of Trafford, and Stockport used
to be within the County of Cheshire. This, despite the fact
that all the residents of these boroughs still pay a proportion
of their Council Tax to Greater Manchester (for police, fire
and transport, services, etc), and not to Lancashire
Not everybody agrees with the 'Real Lancashire' viewpoint, of
course, as many will not agree with that expressed by us here.
Readers must decide for themselves what they believe to be true
in this contentious debate.
(See also: Lancashire Main Entry).
Here are a few sources on the
"The local Government
Act 1972 did not abolish traditional counties, only administrative
ones. Although for local government purposes some of the historic
counties have ceased to be administrative areas, they continue to
exist for other purposes." (Department
of the Environment, 3 September 1991).
"The new county
boundaries are administrative areas and will not alter the traditional
boundaries of counties" ("The
Times", 1st April 1974)
enacted for the creation of the administrative county was for the
purpose of local government and did not affect the geographical
boundaries of the County Palatine."
(Duchy of Lancaster Office, 4 March 1996).
We are indebted to Doreen
Ainscough for providing the above sources.
"We have received
large numbers of representations from people living in Merseyside
and Greater Manchester who still consider themselves Lancastrians
and who would like to see the reinstatement of the historic county.
(Similar views have been expressed in Barrow and the Furness area
of Cumbria which was also part of Lancashire before 1974.)"
Local Government Commission Draft Recommendations, June 1994 .
(From the 'Friends of Real Lancashire' Website)
There are other explanations
- " For more than a decade after
1974 the county had a two tier system of local government, whereby
district councils shared power with the Greater Manchester County
Council. The county council was abolished in 1986, and the metropolitan
boroughs effectively became unitary authority areas. However, the
metropolitan county has continued to exist in law and as a geographic
frame of reference, and as a ceremonial county, has a Lord Lieutenant
and a High Sheriff. Several county-wide services were co-ordinated
through the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities up until
April 2011, when the Greater Manchester Combined Authority was established
as the strategic county-wide authority for Greater Manchester, taking
on functions and responsibilities for economic development, regeneration
and transport". Source: Wikipedia