Manchester UK Districts


& Suburbs of Manchester

The district of
Gorton was incorporated into the City of Manchester in 1909. The name
Gorton was known by the late 13th century and means dirty or grubby
village or township, probably on account of Gore Brook, a dark water
course stained brown by the surrounding peaty land. In the event,
however, the “dirty” connotation was not so much real as
perceived, and the water itself seems to have been perfectly “clean”
(that is, free from pollutants), such that by the beginning of the
14th century a water mill is known to have existed on the brook. Initially,
Gorton also included the area of Longsight.
A distinctive
geographical and historic feature of the district is the Nico Ditch,
and early Danish earthwork forming the ancient boundary between Gorton
and Levenshulme.
In the 1860s,
the Franciscan Monastery
was built by Edward Pugin on Gorton Lane. This fine building, long
a notable feature of the local landscape, is currently awaiting extensive
restoration after many years of suffering and neglect.
Gorton saw
massive developments during the Industrial Revolution. The
Ashton Canal
, which passes through the district, enabled the building
of the Gorton Mills alongside in 1852. These mills became the area’s
major employers, with some 1500 local people on its workforce by the
Other major
employment opportunities emerged with the coming of railways. These
included the Manchester, Sheffield and Ashton Railway in 1845, and
the Sheffield and Midland Joint Railway in 1875. There emerged a major
railways maintenance yard in the area, which was known locally as
“Gorton Tank”. These yards serviced and maintained rolling
stock (on Railway Street) under the name of the Beyer Peacock Railway
Works, later to become the Gorton Foundry. More than 8000 steam railway
engines were built here to serve railways all over the world during
the next century. The railway works finally ceased production in 1966,
and the site has been built over so that only a very close scrutiny
of the landscape would reveal that they ever existed at all.
These excellent
employment opportunities proved a magnet and during the latter half
of the nineteenth century the resident population of Gorton multiplied
eleven-fold, though modern times and declining industry have seen
a rapid decline in population numbers. Most of the industries have
long gone from Gorton and light industry at ICL remains as the main
local employer.
The Victorians
built Gorton Reservoir in Debdale Park on Hyde Road, and this has
nowadays become a distinctive local landmark and a popular pleasant
walk for local residents.

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.