Leeds Metropolitan University
Faced with further industrial decay, Manchester in the 1960s desperately tried to shake off its dour northern heritage in order to recast itself as a commercial centre. Wythenshawe, eight miles south of the city centre, was an important part of this vision of commerce. Its fringe location and satellite garden town design set it apart from the rest of the city and the promise of free-flowing traffic, greenfield sites and generous grants incentivised a number of businesses to relocate. Three businesses that moved operations to the area – Shell-Mex British Petroleum, Barclays Bank, and the Trustee Savings Bank – created large computer centres in Wythenshawe’s newly-built civic centre. The buildings’ Brutalist designs, typical of building projects at the time, dominated the surrounding area and architects rose to the challenge of humanising the buildings’ visual identity by setting them in open landscaped grounds. In this paper, I examine the relationship between these buildings and the community in which they were situated to understand why, despite the computer centres’ planned open outlooks, the buildings were increasingly fashioned as very private places.
Ian Martin is a senior lecturer in Business Information Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University. His research interests include spatial and temporal perspectives on the history and sociology of technology. His PhD thesis from the University of Manchester in 2010, Centring the Computer in the Business of Banking: Barclays Bank and Technological Change, 1954-1974, is a labour history of early computing work.
Department of History, Manchester Metropolitan University
The Manchester Blitz of December 1940 destroyed or seriously damaged hundreds of commercial and residential buildings within a mile radius of Albert Square. Within days of this devastation plans for the post-war reconstruction of Manchester were being discussed. But the scope of these plans and the future they envisaged went far beyond making good the damage caused by the Luftwaffe. The eventual result was the wide ranging and ambitious City of Manchester Plan of 1945 prepared under the jurisdiction of city surveyor and engineer Rowland Nicholas. This paper will explore the wartime debates over reconstruction that culminated in the Nicholas plan of 1945.
Alan Kidd is Emeritus Professor of Social & Regional History at MMU and among my publications is Manchester: A History, published by Carnegie.
History Department, University of Manchester
Slum clearance has often been viewed by scholars through the prism of national policy objectives and the supposedly unified priorities of the planning profession. In practice, this paper argues, the delegation of slum clearance powers to local authorities provided an opportunity to formulate locally-determined visions of urban modernity. In Manchester in particular, clearance powers provided a mechanism through which conceptions of Mancunian modernity were negotiated and enacted. This process reflected the city’s previous experience of planning and the established priorities of councillors and officials, but it also demonstrated an engagement with contemporary debates about the form and functions of the city. Such debates were mediated by local newspapers, which tended to privilege a somewhat sectional vision of the city and of the modern citizen. The paper argues that the way that Manchester was re-imagined and reshaped in the 1950s and 60s had long term implications for urban policy in the 1970s and beyond.
Alistair Kefford is a PhD researcher in the History Department at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on the relationship between spatial planning and urban social policy in Manchester and Leeds in the post-war period.
Heritage Officer, University of Manchester
The 1945 City of Manchester plan foresaw higher education as a growth sector within the city. It envisaged physically transforming the area between ‘the Tech’ and the Victoria University into an Education Centre to house Manchester’s growing educational institutions in imposing buildings with open vistas and collegiate parklands.
The 1945 Plan was prophetic in its predictions for the expansion of higher education, though the physical mark it made on the city was not what had been intended. The slum housing and older industrial areas were replaced with new buildings but neither the 1945 nor the later 1967 Manchester Education Precinct Plan succeeded in forging cohesive development for what has become Manchester’s knowledge corridor.
This paper discusses the plans for the physical and social development of Manchester’s university area in the three decades after 1945 and explores some of the reasons that they failed.
James Hopkins works at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. His PhD focussed on the history of regionalism in post-war Britain and its learned society, the Regional Studies Association. With Professor Michael Hebbert (formerly of the University of Manchester, now UCL), he has written a history of Wythenshawe Garden City as an example of an iconic planned community. He has a strong interest in the history of Manchester and is currently working on a history of medical education in Manchester with Professor John Pickstone. Alongside his research, he has recently been appointed as the University of Manchester’s Heritage
Officer to conserve and promote the rich history of the institution.
The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
This opening paper sets the scene for discussion of postwar Manchester, positioning the city’s plans and projects in the wider context of reconstruction and shifting attitudes towards soot, greenspace, pedestrianism, automobility, the street, neighbourliness, economic modernisation and the pervasive legacy of the Victorian built environment.
Michael Hebbert is Professor of Town Planning at the Bartlett UCL and editor of the leading specialist journal on the history of city plans and outcomes, Planning Perspectives. As a part-time Mancunian and member of Manchester Architecture Research Centre he has a longstanding interest in the shaping of Manchester and recently edited a special issue of the John Rylands Bulletin on the modern city’s architecture and environment.
Department of Geography, University of Manchester
The talk will consider the planning of civil aviation facilities in the post-war era and their significance to the Manchester regional economy and its strategic positioning as the key northern city. Manchester Corporation made considered attempts to develop the small municipal aerodrome at Ringway into a major airport capable of landing wide bodies jet airliners and with a large modern terminal able to handle millions of passengers a year. The growth in flights in subsequent decades and continued success of the airport is juxtaposed to schemes for a city centre heliport in Manchester in the 1950s that never materialised. The helicopter was a thrillingly modern technology in this period, with its ability to hover and land vertically, and it was envisaged to offer radical improvements in intra-urban travel and especially for rapid movement directly between city centres. The exploitation of the air space immediately above the cityscape seemed to hold out real hope to overcome the congested streets below. Yet the design and siting of heliports was uncertain at the time and is now forgotten as helicopter services never managed to make the transition from exciting novelty to routine mass transit.
Martin Dodge is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Manchester and his research focuses primarily on the politics of mapping technologies, new modes of geographic visualisation, and understanding of urban infrastructures. He has co-authored three books analysing technologies: Mapping Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000), Atlas of Cyberspace (Addison-Wesley, 2001) and Code/Space (MIT Press, 2011). With Richard Brook, he has curated the Infra_MANC exhibition on post-war urban infrastructure for the Manchester Histories Festival and held in the CUBE Gallery in spring 2012.
Department of History & CoDE, University of Manchester & Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, University of Manchester
This paper compares how South and North Manchester were affected by the dynamics of internal migration and immigration during the three decades that followed the Second World War. The built environment of both areas was the focus for considerable redevelopment and transformation which then radically reshaped patterns of ethnic and economic segregation. The paper explores how the residents of both areas engaged with urban renewal projects, and how they gave meaning to the new landscapes that were created.
Laurence Brown is Lecturer in Migration History. His main research interests are the Caribbean diaspora (1760-present), labour migration in the remaking of nineteenth century colonialism, and the impact of migration on contemporary Western Europe.
His current research project examines the relationships between past and present migratory movements in the Caribbean, from European colonisation and the African slave trade, to indentured Asian and African immigration in the nineteenth century to contemporary Afro-Caribbean movements across the Americas and Europe. A central focus for my research has been the inter-colonial movements of elite and subaltern migrants between the British, French and Hispanic Caribbean. He is also interested in the extent to which contemporary theories on trans-nationalism, integration, second generation identity, diaspora and ethnicity can be used to inform historical research.
Niall Cunningham is Research Associate at CRESC: the ESRC-funded Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change at the University of Manchester. He is interested in the historical and spatial analysis of ethnic and social segregation / conflict, and specifically in the possibilities and limitations of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) approaches for this type of research. He has published in the Journal of Historical Geography and Sociology on ethnic conflict in Ireland and the contemporary geography of social class in the UK. He is also a co-author of the forthcoming monograph, Troubled Geographies: A Spatial History of Religion and Society in Ireland Since the Famine (Indiana University Press, 2013).