Ardwick is a district of Manchester in North West England, one mile south east of the city centre. The population of the Ardwick Ward at the 2011 census was 19,250.[1]

Ardwick Green Park - - 48134.jpg
Ardwick Green Park
Ardwick is located in Greater Manchester
Location within Greater Manchester
Population19,250 (2011 Census
OS grid referenceSJ856975
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtM12 M13
Dialling code0161
PoliceGreater Manchester
FireGreater Manchester
AmbulanceNorth West
UK Parliament
  • Mavis Smitheman (Labour)
  • Bernard Priest (Labour)
  • Tina Hewitson (Labour)
List of places
Greater Manchester
53°28′09″N 2°13′07″W / 53.469167°N 2.218611°W / 53.469167; -2.218611Coordinates: 53°28′09″N 2°13′07″W / 53.469167°N 2.218611°W / 53.469167; -2.218611

Historically in Lancashire, by the mid-nineteenth century Ardwick had grown from being a village into a pleasant and wealthy suburb of Manchester, but by the end of that century it had become heavily industrialised.[2][3] When its industries later fell into decline then so did Ardwick itself, becoming one of the city's most deprived areas. Substantial development has taken place more recently in Ardwick and other areas of Manchester to reverse the decline, notably the construction of many facilities for the 2002 Commonwealth Games held nearby at the City of Manchester Stadium.

In the late nineteenth century Ardwick had many places of entertainment, but the only remnant of that history today is the Art Deco-style Manchester Apollo, a venue for pop and rock music concerts.[3]


Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Ardwick was a small village just outside Manchester in open countryside. The principal residents were the Birch family, one of whom was a major general when Oliver Cromwell (briefly) instituted direct military rule.

One Samuel Birch was instrumental in providing a small chapel of ease, dedicated to St. Thomas, and consecrated in 1741. This soon expanded into a Georgian church, to which a brick campanile tower was added in 1836.[4] It contained a very rare Samuel Green organ, installed in 1787 or 1788, the first in which the sharp keys were distinguished in black. When the building ceased to be used as a church in 1978, the organ was rescued by an organ builder called George Sixsmith, and installed in St Paul's Church, Pendleton.[5][6] There was also a memorial chapel to the dead of the First World War, chiefly men of the local territorial unit.[4] These have been removed, and the building has been used as offices for voluntary organisations. The structure is now Grade II Listed.[7][8]

Grand terraces of regency houses (some of which still survive) were built either side of the church, and these were fronted by Ardwick Green, a private park for the residents, containing a pond. Similar housing developments to those around the Green took place along Higher Ardwick and the area known as the Polygon.

Early inhabitants included members the family of Sir Robert Peel. Charles Dickens drew many of his characters from life, and was a frequent visitor to Manchester. It is said that Dickens based the character of the crippled Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol on the invalid son of a friend who owned a cotton mill in Ardwick.[9]

Ardwick Cemetery was established in 1838 as a prestigious place for fashionable burials. By the time the cemetery closed in 1950, around 80,000 people had been buried there. John Dalton, the chemist and physicist best known for his advocacy of atomic theory, was amongst them. It was reported that some 100 coaches followed the funeral cortege to the cemetery on the day of his burial in 1844. Other notable interments, recorded on a plaque when the grounds were turned into a sports field in 1966, included Sir Thomas Potter, the first mayor of Manchester, who died in 1845, the Chartist Ernest Charles Jones, who died in 1869, and Buglar Robert Hawthorne, of the 52nd Light Infantry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1857. Following the closure, the granite top of Dalton's tomb was relocated to the John Dalton building of Manchester Metropolitan University, where it lies beside a statue of the man.[10]

The Grade II listed Church of St Benedict on Bennet Street was erected in 1880 by the noted Gothic Revival architect J. S. Crowther. Although no longer in use as a place of worship, it still stands today and its tall red brick tower is visible for miles around.[11]

Ardwick once had its own football team, Ardwick AFC, but following a meeting at the Hyde Road Hotel in 1894, it became Manchester City F.C. The Hyde Road ground, close to the maze of railway tracks extending outwards from Manchester Piccadilly station, was extended in a piecemeal fashion until it could hold crowds of 40,000, but the main stand was destroyed by a fire in 1923, and the club moved to a new stadium on Maine Road, Moss Side.[12]

Industrial RevolutionEdit

During the nineteenth century, Ardwick became heavily industrialised and it was characterised by factories, railways and rows of back-to-back terraced houses being juxtaposed. Large numbers of Irish immigrants settled here, as they did throughout Manchester. Ardwick railway station is at a junction where the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, later the London and North Western Railway diverged from the line to Sheffield that became the Great Central Railway. Nicholls Hospital, a neo-gothic building that was later a school, was constructed on Hyde Road in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. More recently it has become the Nicholls Campus of the Manchester College.[13]

The railway bridge across Hyde Road was known by older residents as the "Fenian Arch".[14] On 18 September 1867 it was the scene of an attack upon a prison van carrying two Fenian prisoners to the former Belle Vue gaol (jail). One police officer was shot dead. Three Irishmen involved in the affray were caught, tried and executed. The men are referred to by their supporters as the "Manchester Martyrs".[15]

Close to the bridge, which has been replaced by a modern concrete structure, is a family-run business called Hyde Road Wheels and Tyres. In 2005 they abandoned their premises in the railway arches, which had become run down, and completed the construction of a new glass-fronted building in November 2005. The project was an unexpected recipient of a "Built in Quality" award in February 2006. Twelve awards are given annually, and the garage was awarded the recognition, despite there being over 2,600 other construction projects in Manchester which were considered.[16]

20th CenturyEdit

The Ardwick Empire Theatre, 1904

In 1904, a new variety theatre, the Ardwick Empire, opened on the corner of Hyde Road and Higher Ardwick overlooking Ardwick Green. It was an opulent building designed by the noted theatre architect Frank Matcham for Oswald Stoll. It became established as a centre of variety entertainment and billed performers such as Fred Karno, Dan Leno, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harry Lauder. Occasional Bioscope shows proved popular, and in 1930 it became a cinema, but continued to present variety acts on its stage. Stoll also owned another theatre in Manchester, the Manchester Hippodrome on Oxford Street. When this was demolished in 1935 to make way for a new Gaumont cinema, Stoll refurbished the Ardwick Empire and renamed it the New Manchester Hippodrome Theatre. Variety stars continued to appear on the stage, including Larry Adler, Max Wall and Joe Loss, and musical theatre shows such as The White Horse Inn and The Student Prince were staged. After 57 of popular entertainment, the New Hippodrome closed in 1961. There was a plan to concert it into a bowling allay, but the building was destroyed by fire in 1964 and subsequently demolished. Today, the site of the former Ardwick Empire remains empty and is used as a car park.[17][18][19]


Ardwick electoral ward within Manchester City Council

Ardwick ward is represented by three councillors, Amna Abdullatif,[20] Bernard Priest,[21] and Tina Hewitson,[22] all members of the Labour Party. Former councillor Mavis Smitheman (2008–09) served as Lord Mayor of Manchester.[23]

Election Councillor Councillor Councillor
2004 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
2006 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
2007 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
2008 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
2010 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
2011 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
2012 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tom O'Callaghan (Lab)
15 November 2012
Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson (Lab)
2014 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson(Lab)
2015 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson(Lab)
2016 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson (Lab)
2018 Mavis Smitheman (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson (Lab)
2019 Amna Abdullatif (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson (Lab)
2021 Amna Abdullatif (Lab) Bernard Priest (Lab) Tina Hewitson (Lab)

  indicates seat up for re-election.   indicates seat won in by-election.

Geography and administrationEdit

Civic historyEdit

The village of Ardwick can be traced back to 1282, when it was known as Atherdwic and the road between Manchester and Stockport runs through it. From mediaeval times Ardwick was an independent township in the ancient parish of Manchester within the Salford hundred of Lancashire. It became part of the Borough of Manchester on the borough's creation in 1838. The historic boundary between Ardwick and Manchester was the River Medlock.


Ardwick railway station is located on the Hope Valley line and has two trains in each direction every weekday to Manchester Piccadilly. It opened in 1842, and was operated by a number of railway companies over the years. There were plans to close it in the 1980s, and its future looked bleak for a long period after that, but closure plans were finally scrapped in 2006. The current service is operated by Northern Rail. The station consists of a waiting shelter on a single island platform between the tracks, access to which requires the use of steps.[26] The station is the site of a memorial to Paul McLaughlin, who died there on 13 December 1997.[27]

  • 192: Manchester – Longsight – Levenshulme – Stockport – Stepping Hill Hospital – Hazel Grove
  • 201: Manchester – Gorton – Denton – Hyde – Hattersley
  • 202: Manchester – Gorton – Denton – Haughton Green – Hyde – Gee Cross
  • 203: Manchester – Reddish – Belle Vue – Stockport
  • 205: Manchester – Ardwick – West Gorton – Gorton – Dane Bank
  • 219: Manchester – Openshaw – Guide Bridge – Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge
  • 220: Manchester – Openshaw – Audenshaw – Dukinfield – Stalybridge
  • 221: Manchester – Openshaw – Audenshaw – Dukinfield

Present dayEdit

Ardwick Green Park has recently been refurbished, and though the pond is no more, it still contains an interesting glacial erratic in the form of a boulder.[28] There is also a cenotaph commemorating the Eighth Ardwicks, once a Territorial Army unit of the Manchester Regiment. Ardwick Green Barracks is a fine Victorian castellated structure bearing the old volunteer motto "Defence Not Defiance". It is still in military use today.[29]

The Manchester Apollo, a 1930s Art Deco theatre, is one of Ardwick's most famous landmarks: it was in use as a cinema from 1943 and was renamed the ABC Ardwick in 1962. An independent operator took over in 1977 and staged pop concerts interspersed with the occasional film, until dropping films entirely.[30] The venue now plays host to national and international performing artists.[31]

Extensive demolition of dilapidated Victorian terraces took place around Ardwick during the 1960s. Some residents remained in the area in new council-owned houses and flats, while others were moved to overspill estates[32] such as Hattersley.


(According to 2011 census[33])

  • White British – 35.5%
  • White Irish – 2.4%
  • White Other – 5.4%
  • Black or Black British – 17.7%
  • Asian or Asian British – 27.4%
  • Other – 5.5%
  • Mixed Race – 6.0%

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "City of Manchester Ward 2011". Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1848). "Appleford – Ardwick". A Topographical Dictionary of England. British History Online. pp. 66–69. Archived from the original on 6 June 2007. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Ardwick". Districts & Suburbs of Manchester. Manchester 2002. 2002. Archived from the original on 2 April 2003. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  4. ^ a b "The Church of St Thomas, Ardwick". Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018.
  5. ^ "The History of Ardwick and St Thomas Centre". Archived from the original on 20 February 2020.
  6. ^ Wickens 1987, p. 130.
  7. ^ "St Thomas Centre". Archived from the original on 11 March 2018.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Former Church of St Thomas (1197828)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  9. ^ Peacock, Doug. "Charles Dickens – writing from life". Cotton Times. Archived from the original on 20 July 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  10. ^ "The Ardwick Cemetery". Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Anglican Church of St Benedict (1207939)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  12. ^ Fletcher 2013, pp. 43–44.
  13. ^ O'Rourke, Adrian. "Nicholls Hospital". Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  14. ^ Fletcher 2013, p. 44.
  15. ^ Nicholls 2004, p. 58.
  16. ^ "Top building award goes to... a garage!". Manchester Evening News. 21 February 2006. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020.
  17. ^ Baker, Richard Anthony (31 May 2014). British Music Hall: An Illustrated History. Pen and Sword. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-78383-118-0.
  18. ^ "New Manchester Hippodrome Theatre in Manchester, GB - Cinema Treasures". Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  19. ^ "The Ardwick Empire Theatre, Higher Ardwick and Hyde Road, Ardwick Green, Manchester". Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  20. ^ "Amna Abdullatif". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Bernard Priest". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Tina Hewitson". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  23. ^ "The Lord Mayor's Office: Former Lord Mayors of Manchester (1892-Present)". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  24. ^ Staff writer (5 October 2012). "Tributes after former Lord Mayor Tom O'Callaghan dies". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Ardwick ward local by-election - Thursday 15 November 2012". Manchester City Council. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Trains to Ardwick". Trainline. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Ardwick". Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Geograph:: Glacial erratic at Ardwick Green".
  29. ^ "Territorial Army Barracks - Ardwick Green". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  30. ^ "O2 Apollo Manchester in Manchester, GB". Cinema Treasures. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020.
  31. ^ "O2 Apollo Manchester". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  32. ^ Barlow, Nigel (25 June 2015). "Celebrating Ardwick's History". About Manchester. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020.
  33. ^ "Local area report for Ardwick". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  34. ^ "Court cleared for Moors murder charges hearing". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media. 7 December 1965.
  35. ^ Branaghan, Sim (November 2011). "Biography: Tom Chantrell and the World of British Film Posters". Tom Chantrell Posters. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  36. ^ Walters, Sarah (22 March 2013). "Johnny Marr's coming home". Manchester Evening News.
  37. ^ Ottewell, David (1 March 2010). "Coronation Street star Bill Tarney calls for NHS support". M.E.N. Media.
  38. ^ Corbett, S. (2012). Harry H. Corbett – The Front Legs of the Cow. The History Press, Stroud, Glos. ISBN 978-0-7524-7682-7


Further readingEdit

  • Frangopulo, N. J. (1962) Rich Inheritance. Manchester: Education Committee; pp. 270–271 contain: "The history of a district, e.g. Ardwick", a list of documents held at Manchester Central Library
  • Makepeace, Chris (1995). Looking Back at Hulme, Moss Side, Chorlton on Medlock & Ardwick. Timperley: Willow Publishing. ISBN 978-0-946361-34-2.

External linksEdit