Manchester UK 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
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
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.
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.