Manchester Street Names


Streets and Placenames

Some roads, streets
and highways in Manchester City Centre need little or no explanation
– they appear as typical street names in cities and towns all over
Britain. Common place names like High Street, Market Street, Bridge
Street or Corporation Street are all self-evident.
Other street names indicate routes out of the city and are frequently
some of the oldest names in any town. Manchester has typical examples:
Liverpool Road, London Road, Ashton Old Road, Stockport Road, Bury
New Road, Oldham Road, Oxford Street, etc.
Many more are named after the great and good of the city – celebrities,
founding fathers and notable personalities – names like Mosley Street,
Byrom Street, and John Dalton Street are just a few examples.
But, some are unusual and have no immediate or self-explanatory origins,
so that people often wonder what they mean or what is their significance.
These are just a few of them, drawn from various sources.
We hope to add more over time and welcome any information on other
interesting and historic street names of Manchester.


* These items
referenced from: L D Bradshaws booklet “Origins of Street
names in the City Centre of Manchester” . Published 1987 by
Neil Richardson. ISBN 978 0 907511 87 8.

** These
items referenced from: ‘The City & Parish of Manchester: Introduction,
A History of the County of Lancaster’, Vol 4 (1911).

In 1746, the Scottish
so-called ‘Young Pretender’, Charles Edward Stuart, landed from exile
in France to head a large army set to seize the English throne in
what became known as the Jacobite Rebellion. He entered the market
town of Manchester on 29th November and assembled in an area located
around the present day St Anns Square and he himself lodged in the
Bulls Head Inn in the old Market Place. His artllery battery of 16
cannon were set up in fields near
, outside the narrow streets of the town. Some years later
this event was commemorated by naming the newly built thoroughfare
on that site Artillery Street. A plaque at its junction with Byrom
identifies the spot. Several prominent Mancunians were
sympathetic to the Jacobite cause, including the Lord of the Manor
Sir Oswald Mosley. Ultimately,
the Rebellion failed, Charles Stuart fled back into exile, and several
officer sympathisers of the Manchester Regiment were ultimately found
guilty of high treason and executed.

Named after Major
Roger Aytoun, local wealthy military man of the late 18th century.
He funded his own regiment, the 72 Regiment of Foot, or Manchester
Volunteers. An active and zealous recruiter, he was often to be seen
promenading and strutting round the streets of Manchester seeking
recruits for his regiment, which earned him the nickname “Spanking
Roger” . His regiment saw action at Gibraltar in 1779 in the
Spanish Peninsular War. He returned victorious and his regimental
colours were deposited in
, and later in Chetham’s College, but were later lost.
Aytoun subsequently squandered his inherited wealth and died bankrupt
in Inchdairnie in Scotland in 1810, leaving friends and trustees to
sell off his estates and clear his enormous debts. A public house
off Oldham Road in the Newton Heath district is still called the Spanking
Roger and an equestrian effigy of him is proudly displayed on the

A small and somewhat
inconspicuous back alley, possibly named after the former Radcliffe
Hall, which was earlier known as Pool Fold Hall, possibly on account
of the small pond found near the house, which also served as the location
for the town’s ducking stool…. set up as early as 1586 “…
for the punyshment of lewde women and scoldes …”. The
stool fell into disuse and in 1619 was relocated to Piccadilly Gardens.

Named in commemoration
of the Byrom family of Lowton near Leigh in Lancashire who moved to
live in the then village of Manchester to set up a thriving woolllen
trade in 1485. They purchased extensive lands in Salford, Ardwick
and Bolton and built and lived in Salford Hall, located on present
day Hunts Bank and became wealthy, influential and important local
landowners and townspeople. During the English Civil Wars, the Byroms
were staunch Parliamentarians. Their most notable member, however,
was probably
John Byrom, after
whom the street is almost certainly named. He was a celebrated member
of the Royal Society and invented a form of shorthand, writing many
learned essays on politics and religion as well as penning poetry
and author of the rousing hymn “Christians Awake” .
St John’s Church, off Quay Street was built to commemorate him by
his son Edward. Many members of the family are buried in the Byrom
Chapel of Manchester Cathedral.

In 1793 Messrs
John Ward and George Banks built a circus hall in Chatham Street in
Manchester. Their early endeavours saw a poor return on their investment,
but when a London circus proprietor named Handy joined them with finance
and contacts, their fortunes were secured. Top class acts and performers
were brought in and the company became very profitable, exporting
their circus show to Liverpool and, tragically, an intended performance
in Dublin. However, the boat carrying the circus sank in a storm in
the Irish Sea. Disheartened, Handy withdrew from the venture and the
circus hall fell into virtual disuse. Chatham Street Circus Hall subsequently
saw a few theatrical and circus events, became unprofitable and was
demolished in 1808. Residential dwellings were later built on the
site. The street name now remains the only evidence of its existence.

In 1777 a ‘Gentleman’s
Concert Hall’ opened in York Street, then a fashionable quarter in
Manchester town centre. Despite the high ideals of the proposers and
widespread public financial support for the venture, the resultant
concerts were often accompanied by loud, unruly, offensive and rowdy
behaviour as members of the audience frequently interrupted performances,
catcalling, or shouting out approval (or otherwise) at the various
musical pieces offered for their entertainment. It was not unusual
for so-called “gentlemen” to be forcibly removed from the
hall, and it fell into disrepute. Thus it closed its doors to the
public in 1829. Later redevelopment of the quarter saw the link road
between York Street and Spring Gardens being named, appropriately,
“Concert Lane”.

Deansgate, according
to one theory, is probably named after the River Dene, (long since
disappeared), which may have flowed along Hanging Ditch connecting
the River Irk to the River Irwell, at the northern end of Deansgate
by the Cathedral. The Norse word “gata” meant street or
road (Hence “Dene’s gata” , and later Deansgate).
Another possible explanation is the existence of a Deanery nearby
– hence “Dean’s Street” – the street which led from the
Deanery to the Collegiate Church (now Manchester Cathedral).

Fennel Street

The origins of
Fennel Street may well be pre-Norman, but records show its existence
in the mid-sixteenth century as a major town centre street in Manchester.
Its name has several possible explanations. The simplest, and most
obvious is that it was once the location of or nearby a field where
the herb fennel grew. Others cite the Anglo-Saxon “vennel” ,
meaning a gutter or ditch, as a potential explanation. Some explain
it as a corruption of the word “funnel” , as a deep
funnelled well was located there of possible Roman origin.

Fetter Lane was almost certainly named by the Moravian
Brethren who opened a chapel there. Land had been purchased from the
Roger Aytoun by an Ashton man, James
Crabtree, himself a member of the Moravian Congregation. The chapel
built by him and the street named Fetter Lane commemorating the first
chapel in Fetter Lane in London. The chapel was poorly supported,
most preferring the established chapel in Fairfield and in 1800, services
were discontinued. The building later became a bleach works and was
demolished in 1883.

In the early
days Manchester received its drinking water from a small spring
near the present day junction of King Street and Spring Gardens.
By 1650 a plan of Manchester town centre shows it marked simply
as “Fountain”. In 1557 construction began of constructing
the town’s first water works, with pipes laid down St Mary’s Gate,
to the Market Place, and round what was then still a small township.
These conduits were strictly controlled and water rationed as well
as charged for. As the area around the spring was developed in the
early 18th century, the conduit, and the “Fountain” were
overbuilt and lost to sight and have long since disappeared along
with other town springs. One footnote: when the original Theatre
Royal was demolished in 1869, the removal of its foundations revealed
the original spring and its conduit pipes. These were drained and
the hole filled in. Fountain Street and Spring Gardens still mark
the location of one of Manchester’s oldest water supplies.



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This page last updated 24 Dec 10.