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Greater Manchester is the 39th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Greater Manchester has the 3rd highest population in England.
Greater Manchester is in 5th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Queen Victoria first visited Manchester in 1851. It was the first time for over 150 years that a reigning monarch had been to the region. In Peel Park a group of 80,000 Sunday school children sang the National Anthem. Prince Albert, who had already organised his Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace that year, an event which highlighted British technical achievements, will have been most impressed by the growing skills in the area.

    In May 1857 Prince Albert arrived in Manchester a month before Queen Victoria and unveiled a statue to the Queen which was in Peel Park and celebrated that earlier visit.

    On 21st May 1894, nearing the end of her reign, Queen Victoria returned to perform the official opening of the Manchester Ship Canal. The Canal took seven years to build and stretched for 35 miles, creating the city's link to the open sea. She also knighted the mayor of Salford, William Henry Bailey and the lord mayor of Manchester, Anthony Marshall at the opening of the Canal.

    She then rode past, in her carriage, newly developed parts of the city and saw the Albert Memorial in Albert Square (no not that one), which was a tribute to her late husband.

  3. Greater Manchester Eats
  4. Eccles is a town in Greater Manchester which used to be in Lancashire. The Eccles cake is basically a currant filled flaky pastry with the crust coated in demerara sugar. It was first made, so they say, by a James Birch in his shop in the town centre way back in 1793. Unlike some of the other "Eats" we have written about, the Eccles cake does not have "Protected Geographical Status," which means cakes made outside the town can legally carry the name.

    Traditionally, in Eccles at any rate, the cake was served with Lancashire cheese. Technically they are not even cakes, being a pastry. They are, as you can see, round and flat in shape and as well as currants the fillings may also contain citrus peel, dried fruits and spices. There is a story that they were even around before 1793, at the time oF Oliver Cromwell. It is said he brought in an Act of Parliament banning the sinful pastry that was tempting to the human soul. I don't think Oliver and I would have got on very well. I love Eccles cakes.

  5. Greater Manchester VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Greater Manchester in the last 100 years:-
    Marcus Rashford (Footballer), Philip Scofield (TV Presenter), Phoebe Dynevor (Actor), Rebecca Long-Bailey (Politician), Danny Boyle (Film Producer), Cherie Blair (Barrister) and Sara Cox (DJ and Presenter)

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Elsewhere on our site, actually here, we tell you about the great landscape painters of the nineteenth century. Some included people in their paintings. At the end of that nineteenth century, in 1887, a man called Laurence Stephen Lowry was born in Stretford which is now in Greater Manchester. He died in 1976 aged 88. Why is he here in our weird section? Lowry, or L S Lowry as he was known, became a very famous painter, probably more famous after his death. His most expensive painting, The Football Match, sold for 5.6 million pounds in 2011.

    Lowry's paintings were of urban city landscapes in and around Salford. He peopled them with human figures but these are often referred to as "matchstick men". His pictures were dull, in colour, and the figures had no shadows. In 1909, when he was 22, the Lowry family moved to Pendlebury. It was here that he was surrounded by factories and textile mills that would become a major part of his paintings.

    His paintings tend to show a uniform view of people, mainly dressed the same and looking the same. It is, in fact, a real view of life in the industrial north of England during those times. Lowry painted these scenes for more than forty years of his life. As I said, much of his work depicts Salford and today, The Lowry, is a gallery and theatre at Salfords Quays which celebrates his work housing 55 of his paintings and 278 of his drawings. I have put another four of his paintings below for you to look at and judge the work of this unusual artist.

    It is said that Lowry also holds the record for rejecting a honour from the Queen with five rejections including a knighthood in 1968.

    And, in 1978, a duo called Brian and Michael recorded a song about Lowry which went to No 1 in the charts. Not bad for an artist who, when his first pictures were shown was called "a Sunday painter" by critics because they were so simple. The pictures were simple not the critics although........... Here is the song.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. Francis Egerton, the third Duke of Bridgewater, owned some of the coal mines dug to supply fuel for the steam engines being used in the factories and mills of North West England. He would send the coal by river or on pack horses but this wasn't very efficient. The Duke had once travelled to France and visited the Canal du Midi and he also knew of the Sankey Canal, which is generally said to be the first canal built in England. You can read more about canals here.

    The Duke decided to build a canal from his mines to Salford. Part of the canal was to be underground which would also allow the water that sometimes flooded his mines to be drained off for a practical purpose. The Duke obtained Parliamentary approval in 1759 and work then began. The Bridgewater canal is often said to be the first great build of the canal age although the Sankey Navigation was opened earlier.

    The Bridgewater Canal was more exciting because of the tunnel part at Worsley and also the building of an aqueduct to cross the River Irwell. The was the time of an intense period of canal building in England. The Duke spent over 26 million pounds in today's money on the building of the canal but within a year of its opening in 1761 the price of coal in Manchester fell by 50%. The canal boats would carry 30 tons of coal each pulled by only one horse, 10 times more than was possible with a cart.

    The end of the canal was at Castlefield Basin and the boats would unload their cargoes inside purpose-built warehouses. Unlike other later canals the Bridgewater Canal had no locks. The aqueduct was built in under a year.

    The canal is still in use and pleasure craft now use it.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I'm afraid I have a bit of bad news here. I don't remember anything at all about Greater Manchester and I'm not sure I have ever been there or even driven through there. This makes remembering anything a trifle difficult, if not impossible. I do remember, and this possibly says more about my childhood interests, that I supported Manchester United but, even more important, that an English cricketer, Jim Laker, took all ten wickets in an innings during a test match at Old Trafford, in Manchester, back in 1956.

    For the non-cricketers amongst you this will mean little but to some it may be of interest. Amazingly in the first innings he took nine wickets and is the only man to take 19 wickets in a test match. And against the Australians. In an Ashes Test. Even more amazingly, to me anyway, was that earlier that same year when playing for his county Surrey against those Australians, Laker took ten wickets in an innings as well. Earlier in his career, Laker had bowling figures of 14-12-2-8. Again I apologies to non-cricket followers but that's what I remember. I wanted to be like Jim Laker so I learned to bowl off-spin as he bowled and once, in an inter-school game, I had figure of 8-5-7-8. If nothing else I must thank Manchester for indirectly reminding me of this.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. This may be a bird you haven't heard of but you will almost certainly have seen. The dunnock is a small brown and grey bird but it is quiet and tries to be unnoticeable. You can often see them on their own, creeping along the edge of a flower bed and close to a bush. They like parks and gardens or the edges of farm fields and woods. They keep mainly on the ground and have a sort of shuffling walk.

    They have brown, black and grey feathers, pink legs and a short, thin, black beak. They eat insects, spiders, worms and seeds. There are over 2 million territories of dunnocks. For birds, a territory is a defended area and can be any size. For small birds, like the dunnock, it will be a small area and could be held by a single bird, a pair or a small flock. Birds chose a territory because that area can provide food, water, shelter and a place to nest.

    Dunnocks are only about 14 cms in length, have a wingspan of about 20 cms and weigh between 19 and 24 grams. When shuffling around they will often flap their wings quite a lot.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Greater Manchester check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020