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of Manchester

Beswick is a small
district located on the east side of Manchester bounded by Ashton
Old Road, Ashton New Road and Grey Mare Lane and was incorporated
into Manchester in 1838. Pronounced “Bes-ick” (the “w”
is silent). Before 1066, in Saxon times, the district was called “Beaces
Hlaw” – Hlaw was an old word for a small hill, often used
as a burial mound. By the 13th century it had changed to “Beaces
Wic” indicating that the area was predominantly farm land. Who
or what the Bes element of the placename signified is open
to interpretation, though the simplest and most plausible is that
it belonged to a person called Bes or Bess.
lay at the very heart of Manchester’s Industrial Revolution and all
earlier traces are long buried beneath the industrial spoil of the
late 18th and 19th centuries and much of the district still has Victorian
terraced workers housing.
The district
has long been known for its annual fairs and markets. Silcocks Beswick
Fair was a regular event before Christmas in the days before 1939.
Markets offering pies, cakes and puddings were also notable, of which
only the Grey Mare Lane market survives today, and still offers similar
The area
went into decline as the textile industry fell on hard times after
the Second World War, and a great deal of slum clearance and redevelopment
took place. The notorious “Fort Beswick” concrete blocks
of flats were to replace the old Victorian houses, but being built
so badly, they did not last well and within a very few years they
showing serious signs of dilapidation.
Also, the
social consequences of placing families in high rise concrete tower
blocks had been so badly understood that by the mid-1970s it was clear
to everyone that the blocks had to go, and they were demolished. They
were replaced by more humane houses at ground level in an attempt
to resurrect some vestige of the community life which the tower blocks
had destroyed.
Recent new
housing developments have also helped raise the quality of life in
the district . Beswick is part of the New Deal for Communities project
that is gradually transforming the east Manchester districts. A multimillion
pound investment in the region is bringing massive improvements to
housing, the environment, health and education.

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.