The University of Manchester - The University of Manchester Library
First Impressions


Today we think of Manchester as the world's first industrial city and a crucible of industrial revolution in the nineteenth century. But in the fifteenth century it was a prosperous market town on the banks of the Rivers Irwell and Irk. It had a manor house and a collegiate church (which became the cathedral in 1847) and there was an embryonic textile industry with Flemish weavers and cloth merchants attracted to the town.

The domestic buildings associated with the collegiate church and the cathedral itself are all that remain of the medieval buildings of the town. During the Reformation the domestic buildings fell into disrepair and suffered further abuse and neglect during The English Civil War. The buildings were renovated during the seventeenth century by the gentleman-merchant Sir Humphrey Chetham, and in 1653 he founded Chetham's Library, the oldest surviving public library in Great Britain, in the restored buildings. The first book printed in Manchester was John Jackson's Mathematical lectures read to the Mathematical Society in Manchester, printed by Roger Adams in 1719.