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The Day the World Got Smaller

What You’ll See

This tour takes place on the day the Duke of Wellington (and Prime Minister) opened the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (LMR) in September 1830.

Despite the earlier rail line at Stockton and Darlington in the North East of England it was the LMR which proved rail travel had a future as it almost immediately made money. With an emphasis on passenger travel it also made travel more democratic – for the first time poorer people could journey regularly for a reasonable price. The original Manchester station for the LMR survives in the Museum of Science and Industry. It is now the oldest railway station in the world.

The Railway Age got off to an inauspicious start with an angry crowd at Manchester protesting about the price of food and about the lack of representation in Manchester. There was tragedy too when William Huskisson, a Liverpool MP, was run down and killed by a train. Still a transport revolution had begun.

The railways made travel easier but also the separation of the classes more pronounced as the purely commuter towns of south Manchester such as Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Sale and Cheadle Hulme spread over farm fields. This led to a debate about those who owed their wealth to the city abandoning it. ‘If God made the country and Man made the town.. the Devil made the suburbs,’ thundered local progressive Charles Rowley in 1899.

On this funny, poignant and dramatic tour we look at how the Liverpool and Manchester Railway revolutionised the city and life. The tour includes mention of Mancunian, George Bradshaw who created the famous Bradshaw’s Railway Companion in 1839. This was the first national railway timetable, a revelation at the time, ‘seldom has the gigantic intellect of man been employed upon a work of greater utility,’ wrote one commentator.

Meets at Science & Industry Museum (formerly Museum of Science and Industry) entrance, Lower Byrom Street, Manchester, M3 4FP.

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About the Guide
Jonathan Schofield

Jonathan is one of Manchester's best known guides and commentators. He also wrote the city's best guide book.

Contact Jonathan
£12 Per person
Walking Tour
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Meeting time


Meeting point

M3 4FP, Manchester, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom