Discover Manchester’s industrial past at these 5 key locations.


The impressive mills and complexes that remain in Manchester’s former industrial heartland provide a potent reminder of times gone by. Ancoats was once known as the ‘workshop of the world’. Many of its mills were involved in spinning cotton but it also boasted an important glass industry and a number of chemical works. Look out for Anita Street, originally called Sanitary Street because of its purpose-built, hygienic workers houses. More info.

Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive

The museum’s new local history gallery is now open. The new displays tell the story of Bolton and of particular interest is the story of Samuel Crompton who invented the Spinning Mule – an invention that contributed to the significant expansion of Lancashire’s (and Manchester’s) famous cotton industry. The display shows the effect the mule had on textile production in Bolton and beyond. More info.


If only one part of Manchester could broadly document the city’s history, it would have to be Castlefield. It is the site of the 79AD Roman fort of Mamucium and the 1761 Bridgewater Canal – the world’s first true canal system. Castlefield is also the area chosen for the Manchester end of the world’s first passenger railway (which ran between Manchester to Liverpool) in 1830. This is now celebrated as part of the extensive MSI (the Museum of Science and Industry). More info.

People's History Museum

Entry to this fantastic museum, based in a restored Edwardian Pump House, is completely free. The People's History Museum documents and celebrates the revolutionaries, reformers, workers, voters and citizens who fought the battle for the ballot. Discover how historic events in Manchester have played a key part in changing the UK’s political landscape for the better. More info.

Peel Tower

The iconic tower on Holcombe Hill in Ramsbottom is a tribute to Bury’s famous son, Sir Robert Peel, who founded the metropolitan police force and served twice as Prime Minister in the 19th Century. Visitors to the 1852 memorial can expect stunning views of Greater Manchester and beyond. The steep climb up the hill is worth the effort and those coming from afar should take the chance to enjoy the village of Ramsbottom and the East Lancashire Railway. More info.