Science and Industry Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Science and Industry Museum

Manchester, England, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

30 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Science and Industry Museum

The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester tells the story of the city’s industrial past, with exhibits detailing the people and machines that helped build its legacy as a manufacturing giant during the Industrial Revolution.

Science and Industry Museum history

Manchester has long been considered the world’s first industrial city, and during the Industrial Revolution made a name for itself as the leading producer of cotton anywhere on the globe – literally. This industry gave Manchester the nickname ‘Cottonopolis’, and over the course of the 19th century saw the city’s population boom as more job opportunities became available.

Transport links were expanded to keep up with the demands of the workforce and trade markets, including the world’s first passenger railway station at Liverpool Road in 1830, and in 1888-94 the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal.

As the centre of a new and booming industrial society however, Manchester also witnessed much civil unrest. One infamous event was the Peterloo massacre, in which hundreds of peaceful protestors gathered in St Peter’s Square were set upon by armed guards, causing 16 deaths and countless injuries.

Marxist history would be influenced by working class conditions in Manchester, and both the Labour Party and Suffragette movements have its roots there, instilling it as one of the most influential modern cities in the United Kingdom.

In 1969 the North Western Museum of Science and Industry opened to celebrate and educate people on the city’s industrial history, and was closely linked to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. In 1983 it reopened inside the former Liverpool Road station, where it remains today.

Science and Industry Museum today

Today the Science and Industry Museum is part of the wider Science Museum group and displays a number of fascinating exhibits, largely focused on Manchester’s historical contributions to the world of science and industry.

In the Revolution Manchester and Textiles Gallery exhibits are a host of industrial machines and information on their pioneering roles in history, with highlights such as the last stationary steam engine ever built to power a mill, and a number of spinning and weaving machines on display.

Many of these machines are still operational and may be seen running at scheduled times, giving visitors a glimpse into the sights and sounds of Manchester’s industrial legacy.

Exhibits on aircraft, computing and communications, locomotives, and the railway may also be explored, with everything from a Supermarine Spitfire to the Manchester Baby computer on display.

Getting to the Science and Industry Museum

The Science and Industry Museum is located on Liverpool Road in the centre of Manchester. The free city centre bus Route 1 and 2 both stop at the nearby Opera House, while the Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop is a 10-minute walk away. The nearest train station is Deansgate, a 10-minute walk away, while Oxford Road is a 15-minute walk, and Piccadilly a 30-minute walk.