Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeIssues15Urban Development and Regeneratio...

Urban Development and Regeneration in Ancoats, Manchester: From Industrial Suburb to Urban Village

Aurore Caignet


Located on the north eastern edge of Manchester city centre, Ancoats was the first industrial suburb in the world when early steam-powered mills were built in the late Eighteenth Century. After it was severely hit by industrial decline over the course of the Twentieth century and its industrial buildings fell into disrepair, this area benefitted from a regeneration process which was implemented in the 1990s. It relied on the conservation and conversion of historic buildings and was influenced by the urban village model. This paper explores the mutation of an urban quarter born out of a pioneering experiment in industry-led urban development which was to become an urban village two centuries later. However, the urban village concept was an idealised vision of regeneration that was not fully compatible with the industrial character of Ancoats. The Ancoats Urban Village Company thus developed a different urban design approach, thereby carrying out an urban regeneration experiment of its own which reflects both change and continuity.

Top of page

Full text


1On the outskirts of Manchester, a city once nicknamed ‘Cottonopolis’, for it was the epicentre of the cotton industry (Rose, Falconer, and Holder 2011), Ancoats stood out as the first industrial suburb in the world. As it contained an aggregation of early steam-driven mills, it was considered as ‘the first industrial landscape based on steam-power’ (Rose, Falconer, and Holder 2011: 1). Despite industrial decline in the Twentieth Century, which led to the dereliction and demolition of several buildings, parts of the industrial landscape of Ancoats remain. Its regeneration was based on the conservation and re-use of buildings and infrastructures inherited from its industrial past, and on the transformation of Ancoats into an ‘urban village’, a concept that emerged in Britain in the late 1980s. This model was promoted on a national scale to deliver mixed-use urban development with a more human scale and high-quality urban design (DoE 1997: 4). This concept initially guided the urban renewal of Ancoats from the late 1990s until the early 2000s.

2This paper examines the mutation of Ancoats up to the late 2010s, from its fortuitous development during the Industrial Revolution to its rebirth as an urban village. The rise, decline and rediscovery of this pioneering experiment in industry-led urbanisation will be analysed. Unlike a model industrial settlement such as Saltaire, which came into being thanks to the vision of a single industrialist, Ancoats was not the result of a concerted effort to create an industrial suburb. However, long after the demise of industry, its revalued industrial heritage was reshaped according to a set of principles defined by agents of regeneration. One may wonder whether the urban village concept was an idealised vision of regeneration that was not fully compatible with the industrial identity of Ancoats. This latest mutation will be assessed before shedding light on the creation of an idiosyncratic post-industrial public realm, which hints at a departure from the original urban village experiment.

An early experiment in urban planning

3Once a rural hamlet on the edge of Manchester, Ancoats became an industrial suburb dominated by a high concentration of steam-powered mills, factories, workshops, and workers housing (Oxford Archaeology 2015). Its chaotic development explains the relative absence of architectural uniformity in the area and the palimpsestic character of an industrial landscape marked by successive transformations. Ancoats thus differs from planned and integrated industrial ensembles created during the Victorian era, such as Saltaire, a mill town built on the outskirts of Bradford between 1851 and 1876. Indeed, this industrial village came to represent an important stage in the development of modern urbanism and efficient urban design, whereas industrial cities developed in a more haphazard manner, often as a result of building speculation (Siméon 2014: 27). Moreover, whilst both textile mills and the non-productive buildings of Saltaire (the church, public amenities, the school and workers’ dwellings) were – and still are – characterised by an architectural unity that was sought after by the owner Titus Salt, no such vision guided the creation of Ancoats.

4Yet, despite being seen as ‘a textbook example of a town built in a hurry’ (MRHR 1993: 4), this largely unplanned industrial and residential area was built around a dense grid pattern of streets and plots of land which had been designed prior to the construction of the mills at the end of the 1790s (McNeil and George 2002). This land pattern suggests an anticipation of future urban and industrial growth, at a time when demand for housing was on the rise in Manchester and steam-powered textile mills were being developed (ABPT). Manufacturers knew a canal was to be built in the eastern part of Manchester around 1765; the presence of water made it possible to build steam-powered mills in this area and facilitated the transportation of goods (McNeil and George 2002: 12). This led to building speculation and to Ancoats becoming a densely populated inner-city industrial district (McNeil and George 2002: 33), until it turned into a slum ‘epitomiz[ing] all the ills derived from rapid and unplanned urban development’ (Hartwell 2001: 6). Because Ancoats was a testing ground for an urban expansion created mainly by, and for, the textile industry, from the end of the Eighteenth Century onwards, it played a key role in Manchester’s becoming a classic industrial city. Yet the absence of a town hall and a market was also an indication that Ancoats had grown piecemeal and remained an edge-of-town suburb lacking autonomy (MRHR 1993: 4). Regardless of these shortcomings, there were already more dwellings in Ancoats in 1815 than in Manchester per se (Hartwell 2001: 6); by the 1880s, almost 50,000 people lived in less than 400 acres (Whittaker 1989). It was therefore in this part of Manchester that the first municipal housing was created – a tenement block completed in 1894 called Victoria Square – in order to tackle slum housing (Stratton 2000).

5Ancoats started to change when slum clearances were implemented throughout the country in the 1960s, which led to the demolition of back-to-back houses and the exodus of inhabitants relocated in other suburban areas (Knox 2012: 24). Although this process accelerated the decline of Ancoats, cotton spinning had already come to an end following a slump in the cotton industry in the 1930s and the collapse of British textile manufacturing; mills were either left empty or they were rented by small business owners (Rose, Falconer, and Holder 2011). New uses for the mills did not avert the closure of the remaining shops, the school nor the church (Knox 2012, 24). As a result of deindustrialisation and slum clearances, Ancoats lost 60% of its population between 1951 and 2001 and the area fell into disrepair (Luke and Kaika 2019).

6Its historic character remained largely ignored by decision-makers until a conservation area was designated in 1989, which corresponded roughly to the Ancoats Industrial and Commercial Improvement Area defined in a report written in 1980 in an attempt to set forth a regeneration process (Parnell 1980: 1). Whilst there were few residential properties in Ancoats in the 1980s, there was still an economic activity revolving around manufacturing, wholesaling, warehousing and service. According to the report, run-down industrial buildings were ‘inadequate’ and the ‘pattern of land use [was] unsuited to modern needs’ (Parnell 1980: 2). Decline was exacerbated by technical innovation which induced a change in the way goods were handled, and by the use of new delivery vehicles better suited to single storey buildings, as opposed to multi-storey premises such as mills and warehouses with poor road accessibility (MCC 1984: 4). The obsolescence of industrial buildings was highlighted but no recommendations were made as to what could be done to solve that issue.

  • 1 ‘Once a building is listed it becomes subject to special planning controls whereby listed building (...)

7It was the mobilization of volunteers and amateur members of local societies which ‘brought the plight of Ancoats to the public’s attention’ (Holder 2011: 75) by forming the association Ancoats: Past and Present in the late 1980s and convincing the city council’s planning department to grant conservation area status to Ancoats (Whittaker 1991). If Murrays’ Mill and Beehive Mill had already been listed1 in 1988 and were considered to be ‘[…] particularly important buildings of more than special interest’ (DNH 1994, 14), thirteen buildings in total were listed (ABPT). With the exception of the Daily Express building (first listed in 1974 and upgraded to Grade II* twenty years later) and St Peter’s Church (also listed in 1974), most listed buildings within the conservation area were mills (MCC 2022).

Figure 1: Beehive Mill.

Figure 1: Beehive Mill.

Source: The author, September 2016.

  • 2 The aim of the Greater Manchester survey was to keep a record of extant textile mills. The mill sur (...)

8It thus took the designation of a conservation area, the listing of buildings and the publication in 1992 of a survey2 of textile mills for the industrial heritage of Ancoats to be acknowledged. Indeed, this area exemplifies ‘the urbanisation of the factory system’ (Williams 1993: 32), whilst the cluster of mills alongside the Rochdale Canal provides evidence of the close relationship between mill building and the development of the canal system (IAR 1988).

Figure 2: Royal and Murrays’ Mills by the Rochdale Canal.

Figure 2: Royal and Murrays’ Mills by the Rochdale Canal.

Source : The author, September 2016.

9However, the destruction of historic buildings in Ancoats lasted well into the 1990s. This unchecked process was decried by local industrial archaeologists such as Steve Little, who warned of its consequences in 1993: ‘[…] this process of demolition, if continued in a piecemeal and unplanned fashion, will mean that the remaining fabric of this historic area must reach a point of no return’ (Little 1993: 103). Concerns about the future of Ancoats aside, what this comment suggests is that the demolition of some buildings needs not be systematically prevented by all means, yet regulations should be defined and implemented to avoid irretrievable loss. A 1993 report by the Manchester Conservation Areas and Historic Buildings Panel identified Ancoats as one of the city’s ‘undervalued peripheral areas’ despite the fact that it ‘[…] retains some remarkably intact sections of the world’s first purpose-created industrial city’ (p. 3). The Manchester Region History Review also published a special issue putting to the fore Ancoats’s industrial heritage in 1993, the year Manchester failed to host the Olympic Games for the second time. As the eastern part of the city had been expected to benefit from urban redevelopment ahead of the 2000 Olympic Games, many historic buildings within Ancoats were bought in the hope that regeneration would ensue. This is why after the city’s Olympic bid failed in 1993, the mills stayed empty and deteriorated. According to industrial archaeologist Michael Stratton, because of their state of dereliction, ‘[m]any saw them as merely an embarrassment and an impediment to Manchester's attempt to find a new post-industrial role which the Olympic bid offered [...]’, which may explain a subsequent lack of investment in the area (Stratton 2000: 74). It thus became urgent to ‘stop the rot’ and take action.

From dereliction to regeneration: an attempt to turn an industrial suburb into an urban village

  • 3 A £7,164,000 grant was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2003 to cover repair works undertake (...)
  • 4 Urban Regeneration Companies and Regional Development Agencies were set up under New Labour to help (...)

10According to a study by planning consultants for Greater Manchester Council which was dedicated to the re-use of old industrial buildings, the advanced state of disrepair of some buildings due to vandalism and a lack of maintenance was an issue that needed to be addressed so as to prevent the general appearance of the neighbourhood from having a potentially deterrent effect (Tym 1984). The Ancoats Buildings Preservation Trust (ABPT) was set up in 1995 to tackle the decline of the area by preserving its heritage and acting as a ‘developer of last resort’ (Stratton 2000: 207). This independent charity regenerated buildings of historical and architectural significance whose repair costs were deemed too high to attract interest from the private sector; the preservation trust believed that their refurbishment would increase their commercial value, attract developers and secure their future through new uses (ABPT). By doing so, ABPT was aiming ‘[t]o preserve for the benefit of the townspeople of the City of Manchester and of the nation at large, whatever of the historical, architectural and constructional heritage that may exist in and around the Ancoats area of Manchester […]’ (Heritage Works). This undertaking was facilitated by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund,3 English Heritage and the European Union, and by a Compulsory Purchase Order implemented by the Northwest Regional Development Agency4 in 2002, which resulted in the agency acquiring sites whose owners were unwilling or unable to carry out development proposals for their buildings, thus also solving the issue of land and property speculation (NWDA 2007: 8). Prior to these developments, Ancoats had been designated as an ‘urban renewal area’ in the 1998 version of Manchester’s Unitary Development Plan for the City (AUVC 1999: 5).

  • 5 Lyn Fenton led the regeneration of Ancoats Urban Village and was development director at New East M (...)

11From 1996 onwards, ABPT worked in association with Ancoats Urban Village Company (AUVC) to encourage the commercial development of Ancoats and turn it into a place to live, work and play (Rose, Falconer, and Holder, 2011: 76). Their joint work thus reflects an observation made in the 1999 Report of the Urban Task Force: ‘Conservation bodies are playing an increasingly pivotal role as catalysts for urban regeneration’ (UTF 1999: 251). The assumption is that ‘[…] heritage conservation shifts from a “preserving” towards a “shaping” force in urban transformation processes’ (Oevermann and Harald 2015: 7). The focus was on avoiding conflict and promoting an urban regeneration that incorporated the conservation of historic buildings into its global vision. Consequently, it required heritage bodies to move on from sole preservation prerogatives towards the re-use of historic buildings and their adaptation to new functions. The head of AUVC5 supported a regeneration that respected history whilst being forward-looking: ‘It wasn’t about pristine restoration for its own sake, it was about how these buildings can still be relevant to a vibrant growing city’ (Fenton 2016).

  • 6 For a comprehensive list of urban village characteristics, see Aldous 1992; Biddulph, Franklin, and (...)

12The formulation of an urban planning concept supported by the Prince of Wales inspired the establishment of AUVC. In A Vision of Britain: a Personal View of Architecture (1989), he advocated a return to a human scale in British cities, as exemplified by urban villages (Rodwell 2007: 117). The Urban Village Group (UVG) influenced planning policy in the 1990s (particularly under Tony Blair’s government) by encouraging local authorities and developers to incorporate their concept in the form of urban renewal projects (such as suburbs of metropolitan areas and edge-of-town sites) and greenfield developments (Rossiter 2003: 175). The urban village vision for Ancoats was initially inspired by UVG’s concept, even though, as demonstrated later in the article, AUVC moved away from it. Despite having been overshadowed by New Labour’s emphasis on ‘Urban Renaissance’ as articulated by the Urban Task Force in 1999 (Biddulph, Franklin, and Tait 2002: 6), in the second half of the 1990s, the urban village approach was sometimes applied to existing urban areas in need of regeneration where improvement was expected thanks to ‘the gradual introduction of some or all of the urban village characteristics’ (DoE 1997: 4). One of those characteristics consists in the promotion of a more traditional model of place-based community at the heart of mixed-use neighbourhoods (Rodwell 2007: 117) illustrating the integration of complementary activities within buildings characterised by high quality architecture located in an attractive public realm (DoE 1997: 4).6 Within buildings, a harmonious interaction was to be facilitated between residential and office spaces on upper floors, and commercial spaces and leisure amenities at street level (Parkinson-Bailey 2000: 294).

  • 7 Manchester City Council encouraged the repurposing of old buildings in the late 1970s, (MCPD 1977, (...)
  • 8 It should be noted that industrialist Titus Salt intentionally relocated his mills in a rural envir (...)

13The urban village concept drew on the interest in sustainability that emerged in the late 1980s (Biddulph, Franklin, and Tait 2003, 168), especially since the regeneration of existing urban quarters can be deemed an alternative to urban sprawl.7 The revitalisation of manufacturing sites moving to a service economy is seen as an alternative to green field developments and urban encroachment (Aldous 1992: 64). In order to ensure that most daily needs are met within walking distance, a wide range of uses are provided in a compact medium-sized area (Conservation in Greater Manchester 1977). Such self-containment allowing people to live, work and engage in recreational activities within a single area echoes the experiment in urban planning undertaken in the model industrial village of Saltaire. Urban villages which were developed in the 1990s materialised in reaction to a lack of direct relationships in cities, which amounts to ‘social dissolution in the very process of aggregation’ (Williams 1976: 216). The 1999 report Towards an Urban Renaissance argued that ‘[t]he industrial city, with its pollution, its slums and its short term vision, destroyed our confidence in the ability of the city to provide a framework for humane civic life’ (UTF 1999: 26). The nostalgic longing for a community spirit traditionally associated with idyllic rural places8 influenced the vision for urban villages as harmonious enclaves of civility within cities (Crinson and Tyrer 2005: 59), despite being akin to urban utopias, as corroborated by the endeavor to bring together the best of both worlds through the amalgamation of the words ‘urban’ and ‘village’. The adoption of the urban village label can come across as a marketing strategy aimed at enhancing an area’s reputation (Biddulph, Franklin, and Tait 2003: 172); in the case of Ancoats, this label could be used to erase the stigma attached to industrial decline and to increase the visibility of the renewal project ahead of its completion. Yet, ‘naming and renaming are powerful acts of interpretation’ (Storm 2008: 82) which can be misleading; they can be used by those who hold power in order to manipulate memory (Ricœur 2000: 97). According to this logic, one may consider the name ‘Ancoats Urban Village’ to be a fabrication which disavows its history and the forces that shaped its development during the Industrial Revolution. Such distortion of reality was nonetheless addressed by resorting to a different strategy building on Ancoats’s idiosyncratic character.

Advocating a post-industrial public realm: moving away from the urban village experiment?

14The disengagement from the urban village experiment came about as a result of the strict vision supported by the Prince of Wales, as Lyn Fenton, head of AUVC, explains: ‘Prince Charles had a representative on the board of AUVC, who was meant to provide guidance, but the problem is that they had a very rigid idea of what an urban village should be. So after a period of being on the board, he withdrew’ (Fenton 2016). Indeed, AUVC prioritised the ‘urban’ character of Ancoats over the rural characteristics pertaining to a ‘village’. For example, when a decision had to be made regarding the design of the public realm, a hard landscape (e.g. paved surfaces, walls, steps) was preferred over a soft landscape (e.g. trees, grass, plants), when the urban village concept favours green open spaces (Aldous 1992: 56). Whilst this decision was mostly motivated by practical reasons, it also stemmed from the realisation that the injection of greenery would compromise the industrial landscape. A hard landscape is in line with historical Ancoats: indeed, the absence of green spaces was originally due to the effects of smoke pollution (Mosley 2008: 5).

15However, UVG’s recommendation to create a public square was followed, even though there did not use to be one in Ancoats and its creation required the demolition of buildings which were not listed. According to Lyn Fenton, this decision was justified, regardless of the resulting alteration of the dense industrial landscape: ‘When we looked at buildings we were going to demolish, the question came that in the conservation area, if you knock down a building, you should put one back. But in an area that used to be industrial and that is to become commercial and residential, shouldn’t we actually give the area a bit of space?’ (Fenton 2016).

16The Urban Task Force advised for the provision in neighbourhoods of urban open spaces, such as a square used as an outdoor room catering for various activities (UTF 1999: 57). In cities undergoing regeneration, the creation of open spaces was considered as a means to attract people and investment, which was likely to benefit the local economy (HC 1999). AUVC intended to create a public square for people to congregate which was to become ‘the focal point of public activity within the area’ (AUVC 1999: 19). This was partly influenced by what Professor of Urban Studies and Planning Claire Colomb describes as an ideal vision of urban planning as seen in some urban squares of continental Europe, where social interaction is thought to occur in a village-like environment (Colomb 2006: 22). Whilst the initial design for the heart of Ancoats was a ‘piazza’ commemorating its Italian community, AUVC opted for an innovative contemporary design inspired by local industrial heritage. The simple design of the vast paved sunken outdoor room created next to St Peter’s Church is counterbalanced by the presence of multiple seats in the shape of cotton bales, subtle reminders that the area used to be dominated by the textile industry. It is a type of street furniture which can ‘[…] strengthen the distinctive identity of the urban village’ (Aldous 1992: 84).

Figure 3: Cutting Room Square.

Figure 3: Cutting Room Square.

Source : The author, September 2016.

17The creation of Cutting Room Square ex nihilo was an opportunity to experiment with more cutting-edge design demonstrating that Ancoats was not stuck in the past, without shunning the latter altogether. It was brought to light by concrete monoliths displaying photographic images – which are lit up at night – taken by resident artist Dan Dubowitz inside the cutting rooms of the derelict textile mills (Dubowitz 2011: 2). As suggested by the Urban Village Group, public art can be used to foster a sense of place (Aldous 1992: 14), even more since, in the case of this public square, the name of the location itself evokes an industrial past. Likewise, street names – such as Jersey Street, Cotton Street, and Loom Street – allude to the area’s former raison d’être, which is revealing of the deceptiveness that characterises the renaming of the district for marketing purposes.

  • 9 Holder, Julian. Interview by the author. 4 November 2015. (See Caignet 2018)

18It is the industrial legacy associated with Ancoats which was to take precedence over the urban village ethos so as to set forth a post-industrial vision for this urban quarter. A typical industrial feature was reinstated with the re-opening of the Rochdale Canal – thus making Ancoats one of the UK’s many waterside regeneration projects (Tallon 2010: 215) – whilst the shape and size of the mills bordering the waterway served as a point of departure for new architecture built in Ancoats. Julian Holder9, a former English Heritage inspector who was involved in discussions surrounding heritage conservation in Ancoats, considers that the introduction of contemporary architecture does not hinder the permanence of the industrial character of the area: ‘A debate we have had a lot was: should we maintain the all brick character of the area? And should we allow big white buildings? They maintain the typology of big blocks like textile mills’ (Holder 2015).

Figure 4: Old and new buildings on Radium St and Naval St.

Figure 4: Old and new buildings on Radium St and Naval St.

Source: The author, September 2016.

19As the character of Ancoats derives partly from the sturdy, blocky appearance of its mills, continuity was achieved without inducing pastiche or precluding change by allowing for the construction of new buildings reproducing a similar scale. The overall appearance of Ancoats thus reflects a desire to foreground an identity which builds on industrial heritage whilst looking forward, rather than to conform to a restrictive urban planning ideal that is too disconnected from the historic, cultural and architectural legacy of the area.


20The mutation of Ancoats is not dissimilar to that of other former manufacturing districts which were reintegrated into the urban fabric of cities hit by deindustrialisation, and where disused industrial buildings were given a new lease of life. The idiosyncrasy of Ancoats, however, lies both in the genesis and largely haphazard development of the world’s first industrial suburb, and in its programmed renaissance as an urban village. The latter came into being through the repurposing of buildings which symbolised the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Although the conservation and reuse of industrial heritage were central to the planned regeneration of Ancoats, there was a risk of neglecting its industrial character by applying all of the urban planning principles defined by the Urban Village Group. Therefore, whilst the provision of green open spaces was expected within urban villages, only one open space was planned in Ancoats. Moreover, AUVC prioritised hard landscaping throughout the area with a focus on a post-industrial urban design that was more in keeping with the district’s origins. It allowed for a degree of change – in regards to uses, architecture and public space – whilst conveying a sense of place and continuity derived from the historic built environment, the retention of the original street layout and the incorporation of commemorative public art.

21By contrast, the urban village concept was not considered for the redevelopment of an adjacent area located between the Rochdale and Ashton Canals, which is historically set in Ancoats. The creation of New Islington – a geographical renaming which sets it apart from its neighbour – is a regeneration initiative that emerged out of New East Manchester Limited, an Urban Regeneration Company established in 2000. Initially led by Manchester-based property developer Urban Splash, this project revolved around several experiments, such as the creation of a waterside redevelopment and an urban eco-park (the Marina and Cotton Field Park), and it incorporates contemporary architecture and terraced housing (Punter 2009: 63). Regardless of the fact that Ancoats and New Islington became two distinctive areas, they are referred to as a single “neighbourhood” in the Ancoats and New Islington Neighbourhood Development Framework published in 2014 (and updated in 2016 and 2020). Whilst suggesting a merging of these districts, the choice of words in this title also implies the articulation of a common vision for the area which was hardly compatible with the continuation of the urban village ethos on the whole.

Top of page


Aldous, Tony. Urban Villages: A Concept for Creating Mixed-Use Urban Developments on a Sustainable Scale. London: Urban Villages Group, 1992.

Ancoats and New Islington Neighbourhood Development Framework, 2016.

Ancoats Buildings Preservation Trust. Ancoats – The World’s First Industrial Suburb, Ancoats, Manchester, UK: a Cosmopolitan Community, a Shared Heritage. Manchester Central Library Special Collections. GB127.MISC/1281/2/2/4, n.d.

Ancoats Urban Village Company. Supplementary Planning Guidance – Ancoats Urban Village. Manchester: Manchester City Council, 1999.

“A-Z of Listed Buildings in Manchester,” Manchester City Council, 15 March 2022,

Biddulph, Mike, Franklin Bridget and Malcolm Tait. “From Concept to Completion: a Critical Analysis of the Urban Village.” The Town Planning Review 74 (2), 2003: 165-193.

Biddulph, Mike, Franklin Bridget and Malcolm Tait. The Urban Village: A Real or Imagined Contribution to Sustainable Development? Cardiff: Department of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, 2002.

Caignet, Aurore. Représenter, réinterpréter et réimaginer le patrimoine industriel : La promotion du renouveau de la ville postindustrielle du Nord de l’Angleterre (1970-2010). PhD diss., Rennes: University of Rennes 2, 2018.

Colomb, Claire. “Le New Labour et le discours de la Renaissance urbaine au Royaume-Uni.” Sociétés contemporaines. 3 (63), 2006: 15-37.

Crinson, Mark, and Paul Tyrer. “Clocking Off in Ancoats: Time and Remembrance in the Post-Industrial City.” In Urban Memory: History and Amnesia in the Modern City. Ed. Mark Crinson and Paul Tyrer. London: Routledge, 2005: 49-71.

Department of Environment. Planning Policy Guidance: General Policy and Principles. London: TSO, 1997.

Department of National Heritage. Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Manchester: Manchester City Council, 1994.

Dobraszczyk, Paul. The Dead City: Urban Ruins and the Spectacle of Decay. London: I.B. Tauris, 2017.

Dubowitz, Dan. The Peeps: Ancoats, the Presence of Absence. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2011.

Hartwell, Clare. “Manchester and the Architecture of Philanthropy.” The Victorian (8), 2001: 4-9.

Heritage Works, 11 December 2016,

“HLF Major Grants – The First 100,” Heritage Lottery Fund, June 2015,

House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee. Twentieth Report: Town and Country Parks. London: TSO, 1999.

Knox, Paul. “Ancoats, Manchester (Industrial Suburb).” In Palimpsests: Biographies of 50 City Districts. Ed. Paul Knox. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2012: 22-29.

Little, Steve. “Ancoats: Protecting the Unprotectable?” Manchester Region History Review 7, 1993: 97-104.

Luke, Nikki, Maria Kaika. “Ripping the Heart out of Ancoats: Collective Action to Defend Infrastructures of Social Reproduction against Gentrification” Antipode 51, 2019: 579-600.

Madgin, Rebecca. “Making the Most of our Existing Urban Assets? New Labour's Focus on the Historic Urban Environment.” In Vers une renaissance anglaise: dix ans de politique travailliste de la ville. Ed. Sylvie Nail and David Fée. Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2008: 35-54.

Manchester City Council. Manchester City Centre Local Plan. Manchester Central Library – Local Studies. Q711.4Ma77, 1984.

Manchester Conservation Areas and Historic Buildings Panel. Annual Report. Manchester Communication Services. Central Library – Local Studies. q363.69Ma(851), 1993.

“Murray’s Mills,” Oxford Archaeology, 11 January 2015, research-projects-by-name/228-murray-s-mills-ancoats-manchester

Manchester City Planning Department. Housing and Urban Renewal in Manchester. Conservation in Greater Manchester. Manchester Central Library – Local Studies. Q711.5Ma3/a, 1977.

McNeil, Robina, David George. Manchester - Archetype City of the Industrial Revolution: A Proposed World Heritage Site. Manchester: University of Manchester Field Archaeology Centre, 2002.

“‘More Than an Example’: Ancoats in Historical Perspective”. Manchester Region History Review, “Ancoats the First Industrial Suburb” 7, 1993.

Mosley, Stephen. The Chimney of the World: A History of Smoke Pollution in Victorian and Edwardian Manchester. London: Routledge, 2008.

NWDA. Ancoats Urban Village Annual Report 2006/07. Warrington: NWDA, 2007.

Oevermann, Heike and Harald A. Mieg, eds. Industrial Heritage Sites in Transformation: Clash of Discourses. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Parkinson-Bailey, John J. Manchester: An Architectural History. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2000.

Parnell, Brian. Ancoats Industrial and Commercial Improvement Area. Land and Development Planning Committees. City of Manchester, June 1980.

Punter, John. Urban Design and the British Urban Renaissance. Abingdon: Routledge, 2009.

Ricœur, Paul. La Mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli. Paris : Editions du Seuil, 2000.

Rodwell, Dennis. Conservation and Sustainability in Historic Cities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

Rose, Michael E., Keith Falconer and Julian Holder. Ancoats: Cradle of Industrialisation. Swindon: English Heritage, 2011.

Rossiter, Andrew. “Les villages urbains : le beurre et l’argent du beurre ?.” In Villes et campagnes britanniques : confrontation ou (con)fusion ? Ed. Emmanuel Roudaut.Valenciennes : Presses Universitaires de Valenciennes, 2003: 167-180.

Siméon, Ophélie. “Quel patrimoine industriel pour quelle vision de l'histoire? Le cas de la Grande-Bretagne.” L'Homme et la société 2 (192) 2014: 15-30.

Storm, Anna. Hope and Rust: Reinterpreting the Industrial Place in the Late Twentieth Century. Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology, 2008.

Stratton, Michael. Industrial Buildings: Conservation and Regeneration. London: E & FN Spon, 2000.

“Textile Mills”. Industrial Archaeology Review, 10 (2) Spring 1988.

Tallon, Andrew. Urban Regeneration in the UK. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010.

Urban Task Force. Towards an Urban Renaissance: Report of the Urban Task Force. London: E & FN Spon, 1999.

Tym, Roger. Mills in the 80s: A Study of the Re-Use of Old Industrial Buildings in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. London: Roger Tym & Partners, 1984.

“What is a Listed Building?,” Manchester City Council, 15 March 2022,

Whittaker, Carol. “Ancoats: A Conservation Area at Last.” Association of Industrial Archaeology Bulletin, 1989.

Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. London: Chatto & Windus, 1973.

Williams, Mike. “The Mills of Ancoats” Manchester Region History Review 7, 1993: 27-32.

Top of page


1 ‘Once a building is listed it becomes subject to special planning controls whereby listed building consent is required for works that affect its special interest,’ “What is a Listed Building?,” Manchester City Council, 15 March 2022,

2 The aim of the Greater Manchester survey was to keep a record of extant textile mills. The mill survival rate in this area was only 22% at the end of the 1980s (IAR 1988).

3 A £7,164,000 grant was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2003 to cover repair works undertaken at Murrays’ Mill, Ancoats (HLF 2015).

4 Urban Regeneration Companies and Regional Development Agencies were set up under New Labour to help regenerate key urban areas (Madgin 2008, 39).

5 Lyn Fenton led the regeneration of Ancoats Urban Village and was development director at New East Manchester (1998-2007). She was interviewed by the author on 3 October 2016 (see Caignet 2018).

6 For a comprehensive list of urban village characteristics, see Aldous 1992; Biddulph, Franklin, and Tait 2002, 2003.

7 Manchester City Council encouraged the repurposing of old buildings in the late 1970s, (MCPD 1977, 9).

8 It should be noted that industrialist Titus Salt intentionally relocated his mills in a rural environment, at a distance from the industrial city of Bradford.

9 Holder, Julian. Interview by the author. 4 November 2015. (See Caignet 2018)

Top of page

List of illustrations

Title Figure 1: Beehive Mill.
Credits Source: The author, September 2016.
File image/jpeg, 107k
Title Figure 2: Royal and Murrays’ Mills by the Rochdale Canal.
Credits Source : The author, September 2016.
File image/jpeg, 103k
Title Figure 3: Cutting Room Square.
Credits Source : The author, September 2016.
File image/jpeg, 122k
Title Figure 4: Old and new buildings on Radium St and Naval St.
Credits Source: The author, September 2016.
File image/jpeg, 124k
Top of page


Electronic reference

Aurore Caignet, Urban Development and Regeneration in Ancoats, Manchester: From Industrial Suburb to Urban VillageAngles [Online], 15 | 2022, Online since 15 November 2002, connection on 30 May 2023. URL:; DOI:

Top of page

About the author

Aurore Caignet

Professeure agrégée at Nantes Université. Aurore Caignet completed her PhD in 2018 with a thesis entitled Representing, Reinterpreting and Reimagining Industrial Heritage: the Promotion of Renewal in Post-Industrial Cities in the North of England (1970-2010). Her work is focused on industrial heritage and its representation, industrial landscapes, as well as on the regeneration of post-industrial cities and the reshaping of their image and identity. One of her most recent publications is the book chapter “’It’s Grim Up North’: Depicting Mutations and Shifting Perceptions of Industrial Landscapes in the North of England”, in British Art and the Environment: Changes, Challenges, and Responses Since the Industrial Revolution, published by Routledge in 2021. Contact:

Top of page



Creative Commons - Attribution 4.0 International - CC BY 4.0

Top of page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search