Manchester Mythbusters

Manchester Mythbusters

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Manchester has plenty of myths, and most of them are not very inviting. There's the myth about how unsafe the city is, and how many shooting deaths occur here (less than you hear). And then there are the myths about deaths due to overconsumption of alcohol and alcohol poisoning – again, a problem, but not as big as one would think. But some of Manchester's most interesting stories are the tales that nobody talks about. Manchester mythbusters, let's delve into some of the secret aspects of Manchester history.

1. Manchester is the UK's "Second City."

INDETERMINATE. Manchester comes up quite often when discussing the topic of the "second city." Is it the second most visited city in the UK after London? Yes and no. Most of the facts would point to Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, but when we restrict our search to just England, it gets a little murkier. It's simply a matter of statistics: which stat do you want to use? On one hand, Manchester has more people moving here from other cities in England, but in terms of downtown population, Birmingham takes top marks. Tourism numbers are neck-and-neck. Really, though, it's all just the jostling of egos – any of the larger cities of England are well worth a visit, including both Birmingham and Manchester.

2. Manchester is part of "The Big Three."

TRUE. Another random figure that seems to pop up when talking about Manchester and travel is "the big three." That's referring to the three "gay capitals" of the UK, which are generally regarded as London, Brighton and Manchester. So yes, Manchester is one of the UK's big three. Gays are welcomed with open arms to Manchester, where you'll find the hive of activity centered around Canal Street, the gay village. But that's not the only gay-friendly hangout in town – the official Manchester website features a number of other suggestions, including art gallery recommendations, as well as information about the city's annual pride festival, Manchester Pride, held annually in August.

3. Manchester is a city of industrial innovation.

TRUE. Many people know that Manchester was at the heart of northern England's industrial innovations, and it's no Manchester urban legend that it brought the city both fortune and overcrowding. Actually, some of the world's most notable factory innovations were uncovered right here in Manchester. In what area were the city's biggest industrial innovations? Cotton and screws! Cotton was one of the first big industries, spurred on by the superfluous water supply fed by the dreary water, but after a Manchester factory worked out the kinks in automating the spinning of cotton, their growth skyrocketed.

Joseph Whitworth is a noteworthy entrepreneur who played his own role in industrial innovation. He devised a method for manufacturing the threaded screw, which drove even more industrial growth, including one product named after the man himself, the Whitworth rifle. To learn more about these innovations, step back in time at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. This museum is great because the exhibits are hands-on, so adults and children can both learn and play at the same time.

Museum of Science and Industry
Liverpool Road, Castlefield
Manchester, M3 4FP UK
0161 832 2244
Daily 10AM-5PM

4. "Madchester" is a vital part of the UK's music scene.

Is Madchester a part of the UK's music culture? Absolutely! This is no Manchester urban myth! When you visit Manchester today, you'll still see signs and posters for "Madchester," which was a movement in the 1980s to promote the city's thriving club scene. Manchester has a huge student population and many excellent bands come from Manchester. Some of the noteworthy names include Oasis, Joy Division/New Order and the Smiths. Much of the original movement was dubbed "punk," but that has expanded over the years to include a number of different musical genres.

The nightlife scene encountered a rough spot after the explosion of an IRA bomb in 1996. The mental damage was more serious than the physical damage, but the city was determined to rebuild. Out of this was born the Millennium Quarter, a district just adjacent to the sites of Medieval Manchester, which includes office buildings, restaurants and inner-city accommodations to encourage locals to live closer to downtown. Manchester mythbusters, this UK city is definitely reviving its nightlife scene.

Manchester After Dark has an excellent roundup of who's playing where, though you might ask your hotel or accommodation for a recommendation if you're not sure where to go or what to see.
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