Though I was born across the Pennines in the depths of Yorkshire, for most of my life I (like nearly half a million others) have been proud to call Manchester, the self-appointed capital of the north, my home.
Geographically, the city is ideal. It’s a large city with everything a city-centre needs, as we’ll get to soon, but the countryside is only a half-hour drive away, which gives the best of both worlds. Manchester is also a wonderfully cheap place to live, boasting the third-lowest city house prices in the country and an equally desirable price per pint.
Culturally we have a plethora of museums and galleries; the Whitworth Gallery was named Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015 and won the Visit England gold prize for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2016. It’s two Universities, one of which is the second-largest in the UK, have also contributed to academia substantially over the years, some Manchester-lead research includes Ernest Rutherford’s model of the atom and discovery of the proton, the first test-tube baby (born in Manchester in 1978 and Nobel prize-worthy research on ‘miracle material’ graphene in 2010. From high-brow to underground, Manchester has also produced musical legends including Oasis and The Smiths. Manchester’s music scene is only continuing to blossom today with the O2 Apollo, Manchester Arena and Etihad Stadium playing host to hundreds of sensational acts over the years. It’s also worth pointing out that in addition to these arenas Manchester’s abundance of smaller venues in the city are quite literally where superstars are made. To go with the live music are also, of course, some of the best record stores in the UK and beyond — Manchester’s music scene in unrivalled. Manchester is also proudly known as ‘the city of sport’, being home to two of the biggest football clubs in the world, and consequently, one of the longest-running rivalries in the sport.
It’s no wonder that Manchester’s symbol is the bee; it was adopted during the Industrial Revolution as a symbol of mass production and the city being a hive of activity. Now it stands as a symbol of Manchester’s tenacity, and ability to band together to achieve something amazing. If you’re from Manchester, you know what I mean when I say that it has made me into the person I am today – from exciting days into the city centre on the bus, to my awkward semi-emo phase where I shopped exclusively in Afflecks Palace, to me now, where I spend most of my time in the Northern Quarter trying to find the best lunch spot (of which there are many).
Perhaps the most important thing about Manchester, though, is the spirit of its people. Manchester has suffered numerous terrorist attacks in recent years. Most famously the IRA bomb attack in 1996 that injured 200 people and caused upwards of £50 million in damage, but also more recently the attack on Manchester Arena on the 22nd May this year, which killed 22 and injured a further 120. In the face of this adversity, Manchester has banded together to prove that the northern spirit is not so easily broken. Groups gathered to sing Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” on numerous occasions whilst hundreds got tattoos of the Manchester bee to raise money for the victims and their families. Even in Nottingham, I saw people around campus wearing Manchester t-shirts, and houses on my street had I<3MCR stickers in the windows. A testament to the cultural significance of the city.
Manchester is one-of-a-kind and even though other cities might hold my fancy for a while, I will always return to my Northern capital and its own brand of Northern soul, and, If I need to sell it any further, half the Game Of Thrones cast boast Northern accents and they did okay. Plus, we serve chips the proper way!
Words and Images Ellen Smithies