MM’s top five… iconic moments that shaped Manchester

By Suraj Radia

During its journey to becoming one of Britain’s most vibrant cities, Manchester has had its fair share of defining moments.

Through highs, lows, ups and downs, MM takes you on a voyage through time to see the top five events that helped mould Manchester into the city it is today.

One important event to have missed out on a spot, simply because of MM’s own recent coverage, is the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 in which and estimated 18 people died on St Peters Square in a protest for rights and freedom.

5. Art Treasures Exhibition

Widely regarded as one of the greatest art exhibitions ever, Manchester held the Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, demonstrating over 16,000 pieces of fine art.

Opened by Prince Albert, the show attracted over 1.3million visitors over 142 days – around four times the population of Manchester at the time.

The £25,000 pavilion in the city centre (almost £41million in today’s money) was visited by figures such as Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens.

Its legacy lives on today with Manchester housing many well-renowned art museums such as The Lowry and Manchester Art Gallery.

4. Coronation Street

Whether you love it or hate it, arguably the most famous street in Manchester is the home of Ken Barlow and the gang – Coronation Street.

On December 9 1960, Manchester-based media company Granada Television aired the first episode of the long-running soap and it has since been recognised as one of the most successful shows on British TV.

Filmed in Granada Studios, Coronation Street gave Manchester a presence on national TV and the show has since become synonymous with the city.

The show is still going strong after more than 50 years, recently winning a National Television Award, and helped Granada Television establish itself one of the biggest powerhouses in British media.

3. ‘Madchester’

While not an event but rather a phase, the 80s were all about music and one of the most famed assets the city is credited with is the inspiration for modern music.

Developing from the late 80s to the early 90s, Madchester saw the emergence of bands such as The Stone Roses, New Order and Happy Mondays.

The ‘baggy’ style of music moulded indie, rock and dance music and provided a catalyst for people around the country to pick up instruments, including Manchester’s most famous sons, Oasis’s Gallagher brothers.

The Madchester movement, along with the famous Haçienda nightclub ensured that music and a vivacious night life would forever be associated with the city.

2. 2002 Commonwealth Games

One of the city’s biggest achievements, Manchester played host to the then largest multi-sport event ever held in the UK – the 2002 Commonwealth games.

With 72 countries and almost 4,000 athletes competing, the games helped showcase the transformation the city had undergone after the IRA bombing six years previously.

The games itself saw many sporting accomplishments with swimmer Ian Thorpe breaking a world record while Jonathan Edwards wowed spectators in the triple-jump.

The success of the tournament paved way for London’s 2012 Olympic bid and left Manchester with a sporting legacy that still remains today.

1. 1996 IRA bombings

Unfortunately, arguably the most significant event to ever occur in Manchester is one that endangered the lives of thousands and left the city in reeling in devastation for many years to come.

At 11:50 on June 15 1996, a bomb was detonated in Manchester’s city centre, injuring more than 200 people and causing almost a billion pounds of damage.

While the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) admitted responsibility, the sole perpetrator of the attacks has never been discovered despite huge investigative efforts.

In spite of the shock, the city managed to recover and the redevelopment revolutionised Manchester into the 21st Century and beyond.

The city developed the former bombsite into a stylish and ultra-modern area filled with designer shops and attracting big names such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

Investment in the city has grown massively with investors now fighting to get the opportunity to work in the impressive and modern Manchester that emerged after the bombings.

Picture courtesy of fiberfib, with thanks.

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