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Manchester Suburban District of Wythenshawe

Wythenshawe takes
its name from the old English meaning of a “willow wood” .
Contemporary Wythenshawe bears little resemblance to its former self,
and its earlier owners, the Tatton
, who lived at Wythenshawe Hall would not recognise it today.
It is Manchester’s largest district, a massive housing estate that
was created in the 20th century as a so-called “Garden City”
where an overspill population could be rehoused away from the slum
squalor of central wards like Moss Side
and Chorlton on Medlock. Little
sign of willows nowadays.

Yet in earlier
days, Wythenshawe was wooded, quiet and tranquil – a pretty place
to spend a day in the country. Agriculture was abundant in the district
and most of the resident population would have worked the land. One
of its oldest buildings was Peel Hall, a moated 14th century manor
house probably belonging to the Arden family. Also of note is Baguely
Hall, built in 1320 by Sir William de Baggiley who had made his fortune
from salt mining in Cheshire and had married into the royal family.
Sharston Hall is another manor house in the district, home of the
Worthington family and also sold to Manchester Corporation in 1926.

set in Wythenshawe Park is still a major attraction for the
people of Manchester, with its wide fields, playgrounds, sports and
horticultural attractions, quite apart from the Hall itself which
is part of Manchester City Art Galleries and is open to the public
throughout summer months. It is an impressive black and white half-timbered
building and in Tudor times the Hall was the home of Robert Tatton.

Later it was the
site of a major battle in the Civil
, when the Parliamentarian forces laid siege to the house
in 1642. The Hall was purchased by Manchester Corporation in 1926,
and is now used as an art gallery and has facilities for conferences
and wedding receptions.

The upheaval and
resettlement of such large numbers of people took little account of
social evolution or community spirit, neither of which existed, so
that by the late 20th century Wythenshawe suffered many social problems.
First, the estate was built initially without shops, amenities or
services, and second there was very little employment directly to
hand (except the Timpsons Shoe Factory on Altrincham Road). Various
Residents Associations were set up to address these problems, and
progress was very slow. The building of nearby Sharston Industrial
Estate somewhat improved matters, as did the later Moss Nook and Roundthorn
Industrial complexes, and over the years, the experiment that was
Wythenshawe has gradually settled down to a degree of peace and normality.

Wythenshawe gradually
acquired all the amenities and facilities that the early planners
forgot, including its schools, shops, pubs and churches. Nowadays
it has the Wythenshawe Forum, a major venue for dramatic, theatrical
and musical events. It also got its own hospital, and Wythenshawe
Hospital grew out of the earlier Baguley Hospital after the war in

Wythenshawe is
also the home of Manchester Airport. Known as Ringway Airport since
its opening in 1928 it grew out of a temporary field and was not officially
opened and named until June 1938. When the parish of Ringway was incorporated
into the City of Manchester in 1974 the airport came into municipal
hands and was renamed in 1975 as Manchester International Airport,
and later to its present name of, simply, Manchester

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.