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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
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
all this there were some notable and unexpected successes to emerge
out of Hulme. It was here, for example, that Henry
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.
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.