There is no need to say that Manchester is a crib for greatness in terms of music, subculture, or female emancipation. Besides these best-known disciplines, Manchester also has been at the forefront of technical innovations for the past 200 years. During an urban hike - organised by Proper Magazine and Swedish outdoor clothing pioneers Haglöfs - Eddy Rhead from The Modernist magazine shared groundbreaking stories written by this city.
A game-changer is someone who creates groundbreaking stuff, something that’s never been there before. Game changers risk, they fail, they try again. In Manchester’s history there has been a plethora of such game-changers – on a smaller or bigger scale. Some of them revolutionised their specific industry – others transformed the entire world.
Eddy Rhead from The Modernist Magazine, a publication for 20th-century architecture and design based in the Northern Quarter, is our tour guide on this urban hike* on a surprisingly sunny Wednesday in October. Starting in Ancoats and leading through the Green Quarter up to Deansgate, Castlefield and Oxford Road the walk focusses on inventions and innovations – all made by people in Manchester.
Let’s start with game changer No 1: Richard Arkwright. White wig, big belly – what a legend. Arkwright not only invented the spinning frame in 1769 – he also had the idea of putting all the steps of textile manufacturing into one production line. This new workflow made production faster and functioned as a catalyst for the industrial revolution. Arkwright’s first factory used to be opposite the Angel Meadows where the Coop has its headquarters today.
An even more earthshattering invention was made behind the brick walls of Manchester University on Oxford Road. In 1948, Frederic C. Williams and Tom Kilburn developed the world’s first stored-program computer here. The so-called Baby 1 was bigger than a royal mail van (a replica is displayed in the Museum of Science and Industry). However, this Baby is a father to all today’s pocket-size tech appliances.
Aside from such big historic landmarks the city walk also leads us to more recent innovators like the guys from Manchester Union Brewery. Hidden behind the train tracks of Picadilly Station the team makes Manchester’s first and only dedicated craft lager beer. Inspired by German brewing tradition Manchester Union uses a so-called decoction vessel to achieve the unique Pilsener taste. Once a month the brewery opens for the public, where they offer a tour through their facilities and pints of their freshly made Lager of course.
As Manchester has been the capital for textile production since the late 18th century, a lot of fabrics and garments have been developed by Mancunian scientists and inventors such as waterproof anoraks or trainers for example. This historical background makes it the perfect destination for this urban hike with Haglöfs. The Swedish outdoor clothing brand exists since 1914 and they pride themselves with being pioneers in sustainability and innovative materials. Fewer toxins and less water are used to make their highly functional parkas. The brand couldn’t fit better in this town of game-changers.
Check out their website to see the current Haglöfs collection. If you want to feel the pieces and try them on go and visit This Thing of Ours at Hatch, who stock a selection of Haglöfs outerwear amongst their refined functional clothing collection.
*Press-Trip sponsored by Haglöfs