Wythenshawe shown within Greater Manchester
|Population||86,267 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Metropolitan county||Greater Manchester|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||M22, M23|
|EU Parliament||North West England|
|UK Parliament||Wythenshawe and Sale East|
Historically in Cheshire, in 1931 Wythenshawe was transferred to the City of Manchester, which had begun building a massive housing estate there in the 1920s to resolve the overpopulation and deprivation in its inner-city slums. With an area of approximately 11 square miles (28 km2), Wythenshawe has been referred to as one of the largest council housing estates in Europe, although private ownership has grown.
The district comprises nine areas: Baguley, Benchill, Peel Hall, Newall Green, Woodhouse Park, Moss Nook, Sharston, Northenden. The boundaries of these areas have changed throughout the district's history, and previously known areas such as Brownley Green and Crossacres have since been assimilated into one of the areas listed, though many residents still refer to them by name.
The name of Wythenshawe seems to come from the Old English wiðign = "withy tree" and sceaga = "wood" (compare dialectal word shaw). The three ancient townships of Northenden, Baguley, and Northen Etchells formally became the present-day Wythenshawe when they were merged with Manchester in 1931. Until then, the name had referred only to Wythenshawe Hall and its grounds.
For many centuries the Tatton family owned Wythenshawe Hall and much land in what is now Wythenshawe. Manchester Corporation, which was in desperate need of land to house the city's rapidly increasing population, pressured Mr Tatton to part with the land in 1926. What was once farmland was transformed into one of the largest housing estates in Europe.
Before Manchester's Ringway Airport was laid out, three farm fields between Rackhouse Road and Wythenshawe Road in what is now the north edge of Wythenshawe were used as Manchester (Wythenshawe) Aerodrome. This was the UK's first municipal airfield, and operated between April 1929 and early 1930. A barn was converted to act as the hangar and a farmhouse as the administration building. Temporary fuel pumps were installed.
Wythenshawe is Manchester's largest district, a massive housing estate that was created in the 1920s intended as a "garden city" where an overspill population could be rehoused away from the slums and squalor of industrial Manchester.
Part of Benchill (not the area southwest of Gladeside Road) and some areas in the north were built before World War II and called the Wythenshawe Ward of the City of Manchester. The rest was built starting around 1960.
The estate was built initially without shops, amenities or services, and there was very little employment directly to hand: people wanting to buy household supplies had to "wait until the mobile shop came round, or go to Northenden". Various residents' associations were set up to address these problems, but progress was very slow. Wythenshawe eventually expanded, and businesses were attracted to the area with the creation of the Sharston Industrial Estate and, later, the Moss Nook and Roundthorn industrial complexes. Wythenshawe gradually acquired all the amenities and facilities that the original planners had neglected to include, such as schools, shops, pubs and churches. The area also got its own hospital, and Wythenshawe Hospital grew out of the earlier Baguley Hospital after the Second World War in 1948. The largest shopping area was constructed in the 1960s in the town centre (known locally as the Wythenshawe Civic Centre), which has been expanded further since its initial construction. In 1971, the Wythenshawe Forum was opened, which included a library, a swimming pool and a theatre.
Many houses previously owned by the council are now under the control of local housing associations, such as Willow Park in Benchill and Parkway Green in Baguley. Parkway Green Housing Trust is based around the west Wythenshawe Region. Some of the areas where they provide housing are; Northern Moor, Baguley, Royal Oak, Northenden and some more smaller areas.
The housing projects in Wythenshawe have been described as representing an "extreme pocket of social deprivation and alienation."
Wythenshawe has 12 parks and 18 woodland areas including Wythenshawe Park which covers over 270 acres (1.1 km2) of green space and is home to Manchester's only community farm. At the centre of the park is the historic Wythenshawe Hall with its Civil War and Tatton heritage. The park also has riding stables, a horticulture centre, children's play area, athletics track, football pitches, tennis courts, bowls and golfing facilities. As at 13 January 2013 the greenhouses had been closed to the public for several months. but as at 31 March 2013 they were open.
Other parks include Hollyhedge Park, Peel Hall Park, Painswick Park and Baguley Park. Northenden's Riverside Park is the first new park to be established in the city in the 21st century.
The district is under the authority of Manchester City Council.
The area used to be its own parliamentary constituency, having been Manchester Wythenshawe since the 1960s and represented by Alf Morris of the Labour Party. Before the 1997 election, the boundaries were redrawn and part of the neighbouring area of Sale included in the seat. The constituency is now called Wythenshawe and Sale East. In the same year, Alf Morris stepped down and was replaced by Paul Goggins. It is still considered a safe Labour seat, with Labour securing over 50% of the vote (and more than twice as many votes as its nearest rival) in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections. Labour kept the seat in the 2010 elections, though their share of the vote was decreased to 44.1%.
At the time of the 2001 UK Census Wythenshawe was divided into five local government wards: Baguley, Benchill, Northenden, Sharston, and Woodhouse Park. Each ward was represented by three local councillors, giving Wythenshawe 18 of the 99 seats on Manchester City Council. Following a review by the Boundary Committee for England published in 2003, the ward of Benchill was abolished, and its former territory was divided between the wards of Northenden, Sharston, and Woodhouse Park.
Wythenshawe typically returns all Labour councillors in local elections, although in the 2008 elections the Liberal Democrats gained a seat in Northenden and a second seat (in the same area) in the 2010 elections.
Wythenshawe is approximately 8 miles (13 km) south of Manchester city centre and is the southernmost district within the Manchester boundary.
Shadow Moss is an area south of Ringway Road in the southeast corner of Wythenshawe. On this old map of Wythenshawe it is roughly the rectangular area between three country lanes with Heyhead at its northwest corner. On modern maps its north edge is (the south branch of) Ringway Road. It was partly in Northen Etchells township and partly in Styal parish. For many centuries it was a peat bog which was dug for peat fuel (which in the area was called "turf"); local law said that after digging peat the top living plant layer had to be lodged back to let more peat form afterwards. Each man's allocated part of the Moss was called his "moss room".
- (As at about 1970, Heyhead was a small settlement at the south end of Woodhouse Lane and the near part of Ringway Road: it was made of some terrace houses, a small shop, two or more old cottages, and a chapel, and the Ringway Haulage Company.)
In the 19th century, manorial control was lost over what people used their moss rooms for, and an 1839 tithe map of Northen Etchells shows Northen Etchells's part of Shadow Moss as about 2/3 arable, about 1/3 meadow, one field as pasture, and one field as "uncultivated moors".
In the 1990s Manchester Airport's on-the-level car parking expanded across much of the area, and by 2011 all Heyhead's buildings had vanished: see History of Manchester Airport#Expansion. At the far east of the Shadow Moss area (as at June 2012) some greenhouses remain, but are used for car parking and not for growing any crop; the last market gardener there (he grew tomatoes) closed down in 2011 due to competition from highly mechanized enormous greenhouse establishments elsewhere.
Wythenshawe is policed by the South Manchester Division of Greater Manchester Police. The Wythenshawe Neighbourhood Policing Team, which covers Sharston, Benchill and Woodhouse Park is situated on Poundswick Lane.
Wythenshawe's fire and rescue services are the responsibility of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and are based at a fire station on Brownley Road.
In the media
Wythenshawe is the outdoor filming location for the Channel 4 series Shameless, which shows various shots of the local tower-blocks, housing estates and other architecture unique to this area. Wythenshawe also housed the outdoor sets for the show, which were built on private property. Production moved from West Gorton (in East Manchester) in early 2007, following disruption to filming caused by local youths.
In 2009, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (former wife of Prince Andrew) went to Wythenshawe to make a television documentary for ITV1 entitled The Duchess On The Estate. In it, she visited the Northern Moor area of Wythenshawe to meet locals and discuss their way of life, and to open a new local community centre. Both before and after its transmission, the documentary was widely criticised for being a self-serving publicity stunt by Ferguson, and she was also criticised for her patronising attitude towards the local people.
About 43,000 people work in Wythenshawe. There are four areas of industrial activity (estates) - Moss Nook, Ringway (Airport Cargo Centre), Roundthorn and Sharston. It is home to Manchester Airport and UHSM Wythenshawe Hospital which are two of the largest employers in the area, and various national companies also have premises situated in Wythenshawe, including Timpson Ltd, HellermannTyton, Virgin Media and F. Duerr & Sons.
In 1934, George Hamer Scholes built the Wylex Works to produce electrical accessories. The company was later acquired by Electrium (now under Siemens ownership).
The town centre, originally built in the 1960s, was renovated between 1999 and 2002, to include new stores and other new features. The main shopping area now features gates that are locked at night to prevent the vandalism that was seen in previous years. The Forum centre, which houses a library, leisure centre, cafe and other amenities, has also been renovated in a more modern style. In 2007, Asda opened a new superstore with multi-storey car parking on the site of the old Co-operative store that was originally built in the 1970s. A walkway going between the multi-storey car park and the large supermarket building now features a wall mosaic depicting various aspects of the town. After the demolition of two 1960s blocks of multi-storey flats in 2007, a new local authority services hub is currently being constructed by Manchester City Council that will provide a new frontage for the town centre from its north-facing aspect.
- Wythenshawe, Vision of Britain Through Time, retrieved 26 November 2011
- Derick Deakin, "History of the Estate", Wythit, retrieved 30 September 2006
- Deakin 1989, pp. 1–2
- Scholefield 2004, pp. 222–223
- Lyall, Sarah (10 March 2007). "How the Young Poor Measure Poverty in Britain: Drink, Drugs and Their Time in Jail". The New York Times.
- Draft recommendations on the future electoral arrangements for Manchester (PDF), The Electoral Commission, February 2003, retrieved 16 September 2008
- Wythenshawe, A History of the townships of Northenden, Northen Etchells and Baguley, Volume 1: 10 1926, edited by W.H.Shercliff, ISBN 0-85972-008-X, published by Northenden Civic Society 1974
- W.H.Shercliff, 1974, page 3
- Leeming, Ciara (24 October 2006), "Shameless on the move", Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media)
- ITV1 (The Duchess On The Estate - press release)
- The Duchess On The Estate (Daily Mail, 11 August 2009)
- Carter, Helen (18 August 2009), "Duchess of York's TV documentary angers Manchester estate", guardian.co.uk (London: Guardian News and Media)
- Richman, Simmy (23 August 2009), "The Duchess on the Estate, ITV1: The X Factor, ITV1", The Independent (London)
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