How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

Transport systems in the north west

by Dr Emma Poulter

The growth of Greater Manchester as a result of an economy structured around cotton had significant impacts on the infrastructure of the region, mainly in transportation.

Canals and railways

A number of canals, and later railways, were built to facilitate the movement of goods particularly to enable the transfer of manufactured goods to Liverpool which would be exported around the world, and to allow raw material such as cotton, sugar and later palm oil to be imported.

Some of the finances raised for the construction of these canals and railways was from public subscription and personal contribution from wealthy textiles manufacturers. Names associated with the financing of the Rochdale Canal include:

• Roger Sedgwick
• William Royds
• Thomas Wray (Vicar)
• Thomas Holt
• John Gorrell
• George Walmsley
• John Taylor
• John Openshaw
• Robert Nuthall

There are other major transportation routes that were constructed in Greater Manchester that were shaped by cotton that need to be investigated further. For example, research looking at the history of early canals such as the Bridgewater and Rochdale Canals, as well as later improvements such as the Manchester Ship Canal and the railways. It would be interesting to find out exactly what goods these transported and who funded them.