chapter  11
19 Pages


Manchester was once beautiful. We have this on the authority of contemporary observers from John Leland in early Tudor times to Defoe two centuries later. The fairest…town in Lancashire,’ Leland called it, passing through in 1533. In 1641 the antiquary Peter Heylyn noted ‘the beautiful show it bears’, while Defoe, in 1727, was much preoccupied with its rivers and streams. The Irwell, he wrote, ‘though not great, yet coming from the mountainous part of the country, swells sometimes so suddenly, that in one night’s time they told me the waters would frequently rise four or five yards and the next day fall as hastily as they rose.’