Local cotton industries in Greater Manchester

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Do you know what these objects are, and what the connection was between them?

Click on the images below to find out more

Royal Manchester Exchange, 1877, Manchester Art Gallery

See this object at Manchester Art Gallery

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Manchester was the world's first industrial city. It was an important centre for the spinning of cotton during the Industrial Revolution as well as the commercial centre of the industry. The Exchange was where the business took place. In 1874 it was called ‘the largest trading room in the world’. 

The painting by HL Saunders and Frederick Sargent is an important historical document as it names key individuals involved in Manchester’s cotton trade at that time.

The Manchester Exchange had a membership of up to 11,000 cotton merchants who met every Tuesday and Friday to trade their goods. These merchants represented 280 cotton towns and villages in and around the north west of England.

The original Manchester Exchange was built in 1729. A new larger exchange was completed in 1809 at the corner of Market Street and Exchange Street. As the cotton industry continued to expand a much larger building again was needed. This was completed in 1849. When Queen Victoria visited Manchester in 1851 she was welcomed in the new exchange not the town hall. After her visit the building was called the Royal Manchester Exchange, and a large royal coat of arms was added to the exterior.

Since 1973 the building has been the Royal Exchange Theatre. This painting was given to Manchester Art Gallery in 1968 by the Royal Exchange committee but is currently in Manchester Town Hall.