Manchester Placenames


Manchester Placenames

Listed alphabetically – Continued….
A small and hidden little passageway,
once part of the footpath between the Market Place and the fields beyond
St Ann’s Square (then on the very edge of town). Somewhat self-explanatory,
a measurement of the short distance of 4 yards, or 12 feet.

The construction of the Bridgewater
into Manchester’s Castlefield
by Lord Francis Egerton,
had, by the late 18th century, become a major form of transportation
of goods and merchandise into and out of the city. As a result, the
adjacent St John’s Market became a major interchange for grain, hay
and animal foodstuffs. In 1804 its functions had been transferred
from Market Street in favour of water navigation – roads being either
non-existent, muddy quagmires or in desperately bad states of repair.
Therefore the logical and reasonable explanation for the street name
becomes clear – as grain was carried on open wagons, grain would inevitably
spill out onto the road, so that it did indeed become “a grain

Long culverted over the River Irk, Hanging Ditch
was known as such in the 14th century, and still runs unseen into
the River Irwell near the
So-called almost certainly because fullers hung their sheets over
the ditch to drain and dry (the fulling-mill is known to have existed
in 1282) – hence the long-standing pollution of the River Irk. (There
is also a possibility that it was the site of an old gallows, and
that felons were, in fact, hanged here). The Irk was by spanned by
Hanging Bridge, (known in 1343 as Hangand Brigge ), now largely concealed
by subsequent building. The name points out the course of the Irk,
which eventually became the ‘common shore’ or sewer, descending from
Shude Hill to the River Irwell. By 1480, one written account stated
that ‘the water of Irk had worn out’! Hanging Bridge is of unknown
date. A two arched stone bridge of about 35 yards was at some time
built across the ditch alongside the Cathedral. The remnant bridge
can still be seen beneath Mynshull’s House,
which like several other dwellings, was overbuilt it. Parties of tourists
still descend under the cellars of the house to see it, on payment
of a small entrance fee. The remains of Hanging Bridge have been scheduled
as an Ancient Monument.

Hanging Bridge, Manchester
The remains of Hanging Bridge

Victoria Station and the Manchester Evening News
Arena are located on Hunts Bank, but its history goes back to Manchester’s
earliest days, when the
De Grelle
(De Greslé or Grelley) family, powerful landowners and Lords
of the Manor, had long maintained a fortified manor on this site,
though in latter days members of this family mostly used it as a hunting
lodge; Hunts Bank was the site of their dog kennels. See Norman
Manchester & Domesday 1086

A common enough street name in many old English
towns and cities. Manchester’s market dates back well into antiquity
by tradition and custom, though a charter was only granted later
in the early 13th century.
Originally known as ‘Markethstyd Lawne’ (Market Stead Lane) and
mentioned in records of 1526. The name was corrupted into Market
Street Lane, and then shortened by the 15th century to Market Street.

In fact, that part of the present day Manchester which lies on the
western end of Deansgate from Quay Street to Knott Mill, once known
as Aldport, Anglo-Saxon for “Old Market” – now long since
disappeared, as the township of Aldport was subsumed into Manchester.

In 1223, Robert Gresley, Lord of the Manor successfully petitioned
King Henry II to grant an annual market and fair to the township,
to be held for 2 or 3 days every September. It became known as Acresfield
fair, and was probably located at or near present day St Ann’s Square.
Later the market became a weekly occurrence, and the main street
which led to it was firmly established as Market Street.

Originally called ‘Mulnegate’, and named in deeds
from about 1300, and some have translated it as a corruption of
‘Middlegate’ (simply meaning ‘middle street’ – ‘gate’ in this context
deriving from the old Norse word ‘gata’ meaning ‘way’ or ‘street’).
Middlegate was in common parlance from 1331 for at least a century.
Until the mid-1930s, it was the site of the Manchester Grammar School
(which had decamped to its present location in Rusholme) and is
still the location of the celebrated Chetham’s Library and Chethams
School of Music. The town’s major corn grinding water mill had existed
here, on the banks of the River Irk since 1282, and its proceeds
helped to provide income for the town’s Grammar School. Millgate
is therefore widely accepted as meaning ” the way to the mill
“. Later, other mills were created, including a fulling mill
and Millgate was extended (hence Long Millgate) and stretched as
far as Fennel Street at one end, and Red Bank at the other. This
latter limited ceased when
was built and Corporation Street reduced it to more
modest proportions. Old Millgate similarly was shortened by railway


Plaque to the house of Thomas Myshull, Manchester

Named after the distinguished Manchester apothecary
and philanthropist, Thomas Mynshull, whose former house still stands
nearby the Cathedral. Mynshull House still bears the stone carved
memorial on its bay, shown above, as follows: “Thomas Mynshull,
sometime an apothecary of the town, bequeathed this property to Trustees,
to apprentice poor, sound and healthful boys of Manchester in honest
labo(u)r and employment”. On the left and right hand panels are
details of his birth and death as follows: “Born at Wistaston
Cheshire 1613” , and “Buried at the Collegiate Church Manchester
(now the Cathedral) 1698 “.

As commercial banking grew in England, many new
banks were created outside of the capital city, and Manchester was
no exception. In 1771 the so-called Manchester Bank was opened in
St Ann’s Square, run by local entrepreneurs like
, Edward Place, William Allen and Roger Sedgwick. Despite
near financial ruin, the Manchester Bank was rescued by the wealthy
Heywood family, who took over the bank and were to become notable
local philanthropists. Later, more profitably run, the bank was
moved to larger premises at Queen Street (now called St Ann’s Street)
and a footpath between the Cross Street and St Ann’s Square became
known as Old Bank Street.

A Parsonage House is known to have stood “…neere
to a field called Parsonage in or neere a streete called Deanes
gate.. .” Just west of St Mary’s gate once stood the medieval
church of St Mary where a rectory, or parsonage house was located.
Documents of the 14th century quote that “… certain lands
in the Deanesgate in the Parsonage of Manchester” … were
paid 20 pence rent to the Rector. The last parsonage house on the
site was demolished in 1879. Other surrounding streets shown in
town plans of the mid-19th century show Parsonage Bank (later changed
to St Mary’s Parsonage) and Parsonage Lane around the site of the
old St Mary’s Church, and all were lands belonging to that church.
St Mary’s was demolished in 1880 and the site has never been built
upon, remaining, as it now does, as Parsonage gardens.

Manchester received its first Police Station
in 1772 in King Street. The building complex included offices, billets
for officers, dwelling houses for Deputy Constables and the town
Beadles. The office of constable was voluntary and unpaid. Hence
the street name. It was formed from part of Ridgefield and Toll
Lane (now St Ann’s Street) and the name ‘Police Street’ was adopted
sometime around 1792 and was shown as such on maps and listed in
directories thereafter.

A wharfage in the Castlefield
, Potato Wharf, came into being as a result of the completion
of the Bridgewater Canal into Manchester and the inland waterways
network which followed so that Manchester was, by the beginning
of the 19th century, receiving most of its merchandise, goods and
foodstuffs by canal. Food and comestibles were unloaded all along
the basins, but it was at this wharf that the staple food of poor
working Mancunians, the humble potato, was unloaded and taken along
the narrow lane to the nearby St John’s Market. Also in reference
to potatoes, the nearby public house on Liverpool Road, “The
Ox”, (formerly called “The Oxnoble” until very modern
times), was named after a variety of potato, the Oxnoble, sold at
St John’s market.

Quay Street



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This page last updated 24 Dec 10.