1920s council planners helped start rainy Manchester myth

October 8, 2013
1920s council planners helped start rainy Manchester myth

An innocuous council planning report from 1926 which contained a rain map of the region is partly to blame for Manchester's rainy image, says a University of Manchester researcher.

The report is one of eight spanning 40 years of Mancunian history published by Manchester Corporation and digitised by a team led by geographer Dr Martin Dodge.

In a collaboration between The University of Manchester and Manchester City Council, with funding from Manchester Statistical Society, it is the first time such a comprehensive collection of planning documents from a UK have been made freely available online.

Containing dozens of survey maps and plans of schemes - some built, but much unrealised - they provide a unique record of how the authorities tried to tame 100 years of uncontrolled growth in the UK's first industrial city.

The 1926 report produced by the "Manchester and District Joint Town Planning Advisory Committee", covering a 100 different local authorities, was the most comprehensive survey of the area to date.

Widely covered by the media of the time, the rain map depicted a damp Manchester and a soaked through Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham.

It had been produced by H.W. Ogden for the Committee of influential planners and officials.

Dr Dodge said: "We take for granted that the British have always seen Manchester as its rainiest city, but in the 1920s this wasn't necessarily the case.

"In fact, this is clearly a myth: just this January, the Met Office showed that far from being the UK's rainiest city, our city is one of the driest.

"So the perception must have come from somewhere and this compelling map might at least partly explain it, though its intention was merely to describe the physical landscape of the region as part of a survey."

Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council's Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said: "We're always mystified when people make the strange claim that it always rains here. Of course the truth is that our annual rainfall is below the UK average - and always has been.

"Digitising this rich collection of maps and reports so that people can view them for free online is a great way of bringing the city's rich history to life."

Explore further: Cartographic treasures show little change in city life

More information: www.mappingmanchester.org/plans

Related Stories

Urban languages archive is world's largest

October 18, 2012

A University of Manchester archive set up in 2010 to document, protect and support the languages spoken in one of Europe's most diverse cities, is now the world's largest. The web based Multilingual Manchester, which documents ...

Manchester boasts 153 languages

December 12, 2012

(Phys.org)—Linguists at The University of Manchester have discovered their city boasts of at least 153 languages, making it one of the world's most diverse places.

Recommended for you

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.