How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

Entrance into Manchester across Water Street

Engraved by Henry Pyall, after Thomas Talbot Bury, published by Rudolf Ackermann, London, 1831
Aquatint on paper

Object number 1983.9/4/6

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Entrance into Manchester across Water Street

This print is the sixth in a series of aquatints to commemorate the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway on 15 September 1830.  The opening of the railway generated huge public interest, reflected in the large numbers of souvenirs produced. Published by Rudolf Ackermann in February 1831 and entitled 'Coloured Views on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway', the series is generally regarded to be the finest of the many souvenirs that marked the railway’s operation. The series was a commercial success for several years after the opening of the railway, with six more plates added to the initial seven.

The growth of cotton production, and the need to transport more cotton quickly was a major factor in the development of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Raw cotton left waiting on the quayside in Liverpool, or cotton products languishing in Manchester warehouses, were bad for business and profits. Businessmen in both cities lobbied parliament for permission to build the railway to reduce such delays. American cotton grown by enslaved Africans formed part of the first goods consignment to be carried by the railway in December 1830.

The building seen to the right of the Water Street bridge was the Station Agent's house. This building and the adjacent 1830 passenger station (not shown) now form part of the Museum of Science & Industry site in Manchester.

This information was provided by curators from the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).