How did money from slavery help develop Greater Manchester?

South West Prospect of Manchester and Salford

John Harris (1680-1740), about 1734
Engraving on paper

Object number 1944.50
Given by Mary Greg, 1944

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South West Prospect of Manchester and Salford

This engraving shows Manchester and Salford in about 1734, on the brink of industrial revolution. Almost unrecognisable as today's cosmopolitan city, it shows the individual houses and public buildings of two small adjoining market towns, surrounded by open fields. The meandering river Irwell marks the boundary between the two.  An accompanying key below the picture identifies specific buildings, including Christ's church (later Manchester Cathedral) (4) and St Ann's church (16, seen in the detail above), both of which still stand today.

By the time this engraving was produced, cotton production in Manchester had begun to overtake wool in importance. The rivers Irwell and Mersey were made navigable in 1736, opening a route to the sea at Liverpool. The Bridgewater Canal, Britain's first wholly artificial waterway, was opened in 1761, bringing coal from mines at Worsley into the town. The improved efficiency halved the cost of transporting both coal and raw cotton.

Manchester soon became the dominant marketplace for textiles produced in the surrounding towns, such as Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale. This print shows the city's first commodities exchange, built on the site of today's Royal Exchange in 1729. As the cotton industry took off and Manchester became the world's leading producer and exporter of cotton goods, the exchange was rebuilt and enlarged several times. Today's Royal Exchange was built in the 1860s, with a further extension added in the early 1900s, to create the world's largest trading room.

The full engraving is very wide and is shown here in a series of details.

This information was provided by curators from Manchester Art Gallery.