Manchester: More than Just Football! 10 Fascinating Fun Facts

In a country where beauty, history, and heritage abound, Manchester, England stands out as one of its most dynamic.  Its rich traditions of industry, science, and music, combined with a progressive vision for the future have clinched its spot as the only UK city to be named a must-visit global destination in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 guide. But along with these time-honored traditions (and a hefty dose of football!) are some really cool hidden gems!  Check out these 10 fascinating fun facts about Manchester.

Fun Facts About Manchester

#1 The world’s first professional football team started here.

Manchester and football (or soccer to Americans) are synonymous.  The world’s first professional football league was officially formed and named during a meeting at the (now closed) Royal Hotel in April 1888.

Manchester United

Today Manchester is home to two of the biggest professional football teams in the world: Manchester United and their rivals, Manchester City.  You can find Manchester United at Old Trafford Stadium – one of the largest in Europe and one of the most visited landmarks in Manchester.

#2 It’s the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Between 1760 and 1840, Manchester was booming with a new technology known as manufacturing.  As these processes took hold, it became the world’s first industrialized city.  It boasted the first inner-city railway, the first steam-driven mill, and the country’s first working canal.

The rise in industry led to Manchester’s renowned work ethic, symbolized throughout the city today as a yellow and black worker bee.

Manchester "Baby"

#3 It’s also the birthplace of a different kind of “Baby.”

In 1948, developers Fred Williams, Tom Kilburn, and Geoff Tootill created Baby, a machine made from surplus war parts.  Baby was the world’s first programmable computer!  This first gen system weighed more than a ton and had less computing power than a calculator.

On June 21, 1952, it ran a file created by Kilburn that took more than 52 minutes to complete!

#4 The atom was “split” for the first time at Cavendish Laboratory.

Less than 20 years into the 20th century, a defining moment in human history took place in a lab on the University of Manchester campus.  Ernest Rutherford became the first person to create an artificial nuclear reaction.


Between 1914 and 1919 Rutherford conducted countless experiments at the university by “bombarding nitrogen gas with alpha particles.” During these experiments, he and his team created a reaction that emitted a subatomic particle (now called a proton.)

The implications of Rutherford’s monumental discovery led to ground-breaking developments like nuclear power and radiotherapy.

And this leads to Fun Fact #5!

#5 The University of Manchester boasts 25 Nobel Prize winners.

Twenty-five Nobel laureates are among University of Manchester staff and students (Rutherford included!) Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, and economic sciences are highlighted, beginning in 1906.

That’s a pretty impressive university resume!

#6 Chetham’s Library is the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.

Chetham’s Library was founded in 1653 and has been in continuous use ever since.  It’s housed in a beautiful building that dates to 1421 and has a printed collection of more than 120,000 items. Most of these were published prior to 1850 and the entire collection has been designated as nationally and internationally outstanding.

Chethams Library Manchester

The library and its museum are open to the public today but do require an appointment.

#7 There’s a statue of Honest Abe in the middle of the city.

In the middle of a nondescript part of the city stands the iconic 16th president of the United States.  A bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln commemorates Manchester’s historic act of solidarity with the U.S. against slavery.

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Manchester was leading the industrial revolution as the largest processor of cotton in the world.  Despite its lofty status, Manchester supported Lincoln’s blockade of the Confederate states in April of 1861, drastically reducing the cotton supply to the city and bringing mills to a standstill.

#8 You can have a drink at one of the oldest LGBTQ+ in the world.

Manchester has a long history of supporting the LGBTQ+ community, including the New Union Pub on Canal Street.  The pub opened in 1865 and by the 1950s had become a popular destination for gay and lesbian patrons.

New Union Pub Manchester

Visitors will notice that the glass in the windows is clouded.  That’s because the pub was subject to raids and closures.  If passersby couldn’t see in, they couldn’t report any club activities.

Today the New Union Pub proudly continues to embrace members of the LGBTQ+ community and provide a comfortable spot for socializing.

#9 You can ALSO grab a pint in an authentic Victorian…bathroom!

Visiting the “loo” at The Temple (of Convenience) bar on Great Bridgewater Street is a little more public than you might expect!  Formerly a below-street public bathroom, you can now enjoy a beverage in the tiny, tiled space.

Temple Bar

#10 Manchester is great for groups!

Manchester is brimming with a rich history but has an eye on the future.  Its charming market towns and green spaces blend beautifully with eclectic restaurants, contemporary boutiques, and a host of unique attractions.

Adventure is just around every bend in the cobbled streets, followed by a respite in a quaint traditional pub.


Thanks to convenient transportation links, it’s easy to get around and enjoy everything the region has to offer – which is more than just football!

Check Out Destination Dispatch for Great Group Ideas

To learn more about why Manchester is great for groups, check out the most recent episode of Destination Dispatch.  Rebecca Abrahams from Marketing Manchester joined the team to share fantastic information and ideas for your next group visit.

And who knows?  Maybe she’ll reveal more fascinating fun facts about Manchester!


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