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of Manchester

The name of the
District of Longsight is difficult to identify, and no definitive
explanation is available. There is a legend, however, that one of
the generals of Bonnie Prince Charlie was heard to remark as they
approached from the south that it seemed “…a long sight to
Manchester”. But there is no evidence for this, and as charming
and plausible an explanation as it may be, it should not be taken
as authoritative.

The Old Roman
Road to Buxton (the A6 – now Stockport Road) runs through the middle
of the district and is one of its defining features. Along the line
of this road it is located between Ardwick in the north, Rusholme
in the west and Levenshulme in the South. Nineteenth century maps
show the area as being split between the neighbouring districts of
Gorton and Openshaw – thus Longsight is a relatively new district
which was formerly an area known as Grindlow Marsh – it was incorporated
into the City of Manchester in 1890.

Longsight really
grew out of the Industrial Revolution and its recent history is indelibly
tied to canals and railways, particularly the railway maintenance
yards which cover much of the districts area. Unusually, Longsight
had very few mills, though its growing population saw the building
of many schools and churches to serve its workforce. Notable amongst
these is the former First Church
of Christ Scientist
in Daisybank Road by Middleton Architect Edgar
. Another important chapel was the Longsight Free Christian
Church on the corner of Plymouth Grove and Birch Lane. Also known
locally and simply as the Unitarian Chapel it was at one time overseen
by William Gaskell, husband of local novelist Elizabeth
. He had also been tutor to the father of writer Beatrix

Another major
feature of the district was Belle
Tea Gardens, (later Zoological Gardens and nowadays merely
a Speedway and Greyhound Track). Belle Vue was first built in the
1830s on Hyde Road and included a lake and a natural history museum.
Over the next two decades, the gardens were extended and new features
and entertainments added, including a maze, a ballroom, greyhound
track, Italian Gardens,an Indian Grotto, an extensive zoo, a large
funfair, miniature railway, speedway, bowling alley and concert hall.
The author enjoyed many happy days at Belle Vue with his young family
in the 1960s and 1970s. Belle Vue closed down in 1982. The site now
(sadly) contains a tenpin bowling alley, speedway track, cinema multiplex
and innumerable fast food restaurants.

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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