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Or see Castlefields.

Coordinates: 53°28′30″N 2°15′18″W / 53.475°N 2.255°W / 53.475; -2.255

Castlefield
Castlefield at night.jpg
View of Castlefield, with the Beetham Tower in the background.
Castlefield is located in Greater Manchester
Castlefield

 Castlefield shown within Greater Manchester
OS grid reference SJ830976
Metropolitan borough Manchester
Metropolitan county Greater Manchester
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MANCHESTER
Postcode district M3
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
List of places: UK • England • Greater Manchester

Castlefield is an inner city area of Manchester, in North West England. It is historically notable for the Roman era fort of Mamucium or Mancunium (both forms are found) which later gave its name to Manchester. It is also the location of the world's first railway warehouse, and Liverpool Road railway station, the oldest surviving railway station in the world,[1] both of which are now part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

After suffering years of urban decay, Castlefield was designated as a conservation area in 1980 and the United Kingdom's first designated Urban Heritage Park in 1982.[2][3] This was motivated by the fact that the area is centred on the confluence of the Bridgewater Canal, Ashton Canal and Rochdale Canal as well as a network of railways and, consequently, a great deal of Manchester's industrial heritage is still intact in the area. The growth in tourism and leisure has transformed what was once a forgotten corner of the city into a thriving major attraction with frequent popular events.[4]

Contents

History

A reconstructed gateway of Mamucium fort

A Roman fort called Mamucium, or Mancunium, was established in what is now Castlefield c. AD 79 near a crossing point on the River Medlock.[5] The fort was sited on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell in a naturally defensible position.[6] It was erected as a series of fortifications established by Gnaeus Julius Agricola during his campaign against the Brigantes who were the Celtic tribe in control of most of northern England.[7] It guards the Deva Victrix (Chester) to Eboracum (York) Roman road running east to west, and a road heading north to Bremetennacum (Ribchester).[8] The neighbouring forts were Castleshaw and Northwich.[9] Built first from turf and timber, the fort was demolished around 140. When it was rebuilt around 160, it was again of turf and timber construction.[10] In about 200 the fort underwent another rebuild, this time enhancing the defences by replacing the gatehouse with a stone version and facing the walls with stone.[11] The fort would have been garrisoned by a cohort, about 500 infantry, of auxiliary troops.[12]

Evidence of both pagan and Christian worship has been discovered. Two altars have been found and there may be a temple of Mithras associated with Mamucium. A word square was discovered in the 1970s that may be one of the earliest examples of Christianity in Britain.[13] A civilian settlement, or vicus, grew in association with the fort, made up of traders and families of the soldiers. An area which has a concentration of furnaces and industrial activity has been described as an industrial estate.[14] The vicus was probably abandoned by the mid 3rd century, although a small garrison may have remained at Mamucium into the late 3rd and early 4th centuries.[15]

A reconstructed part of the fort stands on the site and is open to the public. The name Castlefield is a short form of 'Castle in the field'. As well as lending its name to the Castlefield area of Manchester, Manchester derived its name from Mamucium which meant "breast-shaped hill" in Celtic.[16] The designation 'The Castle-in-the-field' was in use in the Middle Ages, but eventually came to be abbreviated to Castlefield, as it is in use now.

The village of Manchester later became established a kilometre to the north and the area around the vicus became known as "Aldport" or "The Old Town".[4] A house and park here became the home of the Moseley family but, in 1642, after being used by Lord Strange as a royalist headquarters during the Siege of Manchester, it was burned down by parliamentarians.[4] The River Irwell was made navigable in 1720s, leading to the construction of a quay in the area for loading and unloading of goods. In the 19th century the Bridgewater canal was constructed and the area became the hub of the developing canal network. As the industrial revolution progressed the canals gave way to the railways and the area became the centre of a network of railway lines and warehouses, some of which were built over the remains of the fort.

During the 20th century both canal and railway transport declined and the area became derelict. The historic railway complex in Liverpool road was sold to a conservation group for a nominal £1 and became the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and industry. In 1982 the area was designated as an Urban Heritage Park and a part of the fort was reconstructed on the excavated foundations.[4]

Present day

A narrowboat moored near Castlefield on the ship canal, the Beetham Tower can be seen in the background.

As part of the renewal of the site, an extensive outdoor area was developed as an events arena which is used for a wide variety of events, including the annual Dpercussion music festival. Granada Television television studios are located in the area along with the now closed Granada Studios Tour. In 2008 it was reported that ITV are considering re-opening the tour as the company is searching for new forms of revenue to restore growth.[17]

Castlefield has several bars and restaurants which are particularly popular during the summer months when people flock to the area to enjoy the large outdoor drinking areas and regular live music events. The popular Barca Bar closed in late December 2008, leaving Dukes 92, Choice Bar & Restaurant and Lava Bar as the only bars within the Castlefield basin. Castle Quay is home of radio stations Key 103 and Piccadilly Magic 1152.

Planning permission to turn the empty Jacksons Wharf building into an apartment block has been rejected for a second time.[18]

Landmarks

A panorama of Castlefield over the Bridgewater Canal.
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Industrial landmarks

Granada Studios Tour

The area was once a site of warehouses around the canal basins still found in Castlefield. These warehouses were later abandoned and the area became a derelict place where the Bridgewater Canal meets the Victorian railway viaducts.

Most of the buildings have now either been renovated or restored and many have been converted in modern apartments (warehouse flats). Numerous archaeological digs have taken place and revealed a great deal about the early history of the city. Manchester City Council have recently encouraged high quality new developments to accompany the converted warehouses and enhance the conservation area.[19]

References

  1. ^ Museum of Science and Industry: Liverpool Street Station
  2. ^ Woodside et al. (2004), p. 286.
  3. ^ Manchester City Council. "Manchester firsts". Manchester.gov.uk. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=1148. Retrieved 2008-07-15.  
  4. ^ a b c d see: Manchester City Council: Castlefield Conservation Area: History Retrieved on 26 August 2008
  5. ^ Gregory (2007), pp. 1, 3.
  6. ^ Gregory (2007), p. 1.
  7. ^ Mason (2001), pp. 41–42.
  8. ^ Gregory (2007), pp. 1–2.
  9. ^ Walker (1999), p. 15.
  10. ^ Gregory (2007), p. 3.
  11. ^ Philpott (2006), p. 66.
  12. ^ Norman Redhead (20 April 2008). "A guide to Mamucium". BBC Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2008/04/10/100408_roman_manchester_feature.shtml.   Retrieved on 20 July 2008.
  13. ^ Shotter (2004), p. 129.
  14. ^ Shotter (2004), p. 117.
  15. ^ Gregory (2007), p. 190.
  16. ^ Mills, A.D. (2003). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-852758-6. http://www.oxfordreference.com/pages/Subjects_and_Titles__2B_05.  
  17. ^ The Rovers Return is coming to a high street near you - Times Online
  18. ^ Jackson’s Wharf development rejected - Manchester Confidential
  19. ^ Manchester City Council: Castlefield Conservation Area: Improvement and Enhancement

Bibliography

External links


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