I was born in Greater Manchester in 2002. I still live in Manchester out of term time, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. For me, a northern girl, going to a northern university, I felt confident with the size of city and the amount of rain that I would face when I arrived here but what I wasn’t ready for was the overwhelming number of southern students who seem to dominate the city. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not building up to an anti-southern attack here; the south is great, in many ways better than the north and the vast majority of the friends I’ve made at Durham are from the south of England, but I must admit that I do often miss home.
Mancunians are a proud people. We hold on to our industrial heritage and stamp the city with bees to represent our ‘worker bee’ mentality, which was established during the industrial revolution as Manchester, coined ‘Cottonopolis’, dominated the cotton market. You just have to walk round the city and see the converted mills and factories to understand some of Manchester’s history which permeates the streets.
Beyond its industrial past, Manchester is also famous for its role in the Suffragette movement as, this is the place where Emmeline Pankhurst lived and began the incredible fight for women’s rights. In fact, you can visit the Pankhurst Centre in town where you can go inside Emmeline’s home and see the parlour room where the first ever meeting of the suffragettes took place.
I think this fiery culture of rebellion and making change coupled with our friendly reputation has meant that Manchester has grown to be one of England’s most cosmopolitan cities, where people from all backgrounds are free to have their heritage celebrated. This can be seen throughout the city in places like China town, the curry mile, and the gay village; all of which are thriving in this fantastic cultural melting pot.
Speaking of culture, Manchester has always had a thriving music scene. We are the home to Northern Soul, The Smiths, Joy Division and Oasis making us mega players in the UK gig circuit. Also, if you count it as culture, Manchester is arguably the sporting capital of the world with the rivalry between City and United dominating conversations up and down the cobbled streets.
What always amazes me is, despite these sporting rivalries, in my experience, Mancunians are always unwavering in their unified support and generosity in times of crisis. Like all good people, Mancunians displayed their love and affection towards the dogs of Manchester as the community worked together to raise over £2 million for the Manchester Dogs’ Home after a fire ripped through the kennels and killed 60 dogs back in 2014. More recently, Mancunians also faced the Manchester Arena bombing where 22 people were killed and many more injured in the explosion. Mancunians gathered around the victims and held memorials and vigils around town with thousands of people getting Manchester bee tattoos to raise money for the victims and their families. In the aftermath of the attack, Mancunian poet Tony Walsh was commissioned to write a poem about the city called This is the Place which is the most wonderful celebration of the Mancunian spirit and a must-read for anyone wanting to get a feel for the city and its values.
Despite my claim to Manchester, as my kind friends repeatedly point out to me, being from Stockport, I am not technically a Mancunian. Stockport is actually a large borough of Greater Manchester which is a 30-minute drive out of the city centre. It’s not that I’m trying to deny my roots, although sometimes I wish I could, but its more that, in Durham, nobody has ever heard of Stockport. Stockport is, despite my negative tone, actually undergoing great improvements and has been coined ‘the new Berlin’ by one, arguably delusional newspaper. If you have heard of Stockport, I imagine it will be for one of two things: being the home of the band The Blossoms, or for being the home the nation’s hatting industry. Whether you have previously heard of it or not, I hope that if you take one thing away from this article, it is that Stockport does exist and that, like Manchester, it is a place full of hard-working, passionate people who are, quite rightly, proud of their roots.