As a modern urban village within the city of Manchester, Withington enjoys its own unique and diverse history.
Withington once existed as a rural village surrounded by fields within a large feudal estate also encompassing Moss Side, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Burnage, Rusholme, Denton and Haughton.
It wasn’t until the Industrial revolution of the mid-19th Century that the village began to experience rapid development due to the industrialisation of Manchester and surrounding areas.
The village we know today grew around the turnpike road of Wilmslow Road, which was a main thoroughfare and local trading area in the Victorian era. The later construction of Palatine Road connecting Withington to Northenden, along with the arrival of trams linking the village to the city and the railway station on Palatine Road, increased through traffic and encouraged further growth.
Originally the area covered by Withington was much larger than today. In 1904, it officially became a part of Manchester, and the wards of Didsbury and Fallowfield split away to become their own separate areas of the city.
Iconic Manchester record label Factory Records has links with Withington. The label was founded in 1978 by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, named after a club night called ‘The Factory’ at Hulme’s Russell Club. The label’s first office was situated at 86 Palatine Road. A blue plaque on the building celebrates its significance within Manchester’s cultural history.
The birth of Manchester’s famous Haçienda nightclub came about after New Order became interested in the emerging US house music scene they experienced on a trip to New York. This in turn influenced the club’s DJ’s and saw The Haçienda become a world famous mecca of rave culture.
The 1991 release of a 4 record compilation album ‘FAC 400: Palatine / The Factory Story’ saw homage paid to the label’s connection to Withington in its title.
Starting out a few years earlier than Factory, punk label Rabid Records was formed in 1977 at 20 Cotton Lane, Withington. Set up by Tosh Ryan, Bruce Mitchell and Martin Hannett (who worked with Joy Division before being poached by Factory Records), the label grew from a fly postering business, diversifying by releasing punk and new wave records with the money it earned. Many well known bands and artists are associated with Rabid Records, for example The Buzzcocks, Slaughter and the Dogs, John Cooper Clarke, The Nosebleeds, Fever Ray, Chris Sievey (also known as Frank Sidebottom) and Jilted John.
Ernest Rutherford (later 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, pictured right) was a pioneering atomic and nuclear physicist. During his time working as Chair of Physics at the Victoria University in Manchester between 1907 and 1919, he is known for being the first person to split the atom, ushering in a new era of nuclear physics. A blue plaque on a building on Wilmslow Road where Rutherford once resided, now named Rutherford Lodge, commemorates this achievement. A public square currently being redeveloped in
Withington, Rutherford Square, is also named after him.
Academy award-winning actor Robert Donat, famed for his roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps and Goodbye Mr. Chips, was born and raised in Withington. In his teenage years, he was a regular at La Scala cinema in the village on Wilmslow Road. Donat’s birthplace at Everett Road (formerly Albert Road) in Withington has a blue plaque memorialising the actor, which was unveiled by his son Brian Donat in 2011.
ST ANNE’S MUSIC
A music promotion company who were, at one stage, situated next to the site of Bank House at Kennedy House, Swinbourne Grove. The company were associated with many musicians, including famous Stockport-based rock band 10cc.
Christie Hospital is an integral part of Withington’s community. The centre is one of the largest cancer treatment, research and education facilities in Europe, employing nearly 3000 staff. The hospital was originally at a site off Oxford Road, and moved to its current site in 1932.
The Christie is well known in the world of cancer treatment and research, and has seen many world firsts, including treatment of cancer with both X-rays and radium, as well as a range of drug and treatment method breakthroughs. In 2010, a new state-of-the-art treatment centre housing the world’s largest single site early phase clinical trials unit and largest chemotherapy facility in the UK, opened at the main hospital site.
The site is also home to the Manchester Maggie’s centre, which opened in 2016. The centre offers a range of support for cancer victims and their families.
Today, The Christie is recognised as one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and continues to break new ground in the area of cancer treatment, saving lives well into the 21st century.