Those of us born in Manchester know we are Lancastrians and Mancunians by the grace of God. Over the last 2000 years, some have not been so complimentary, such as the quote from Mark Twain that adorns the cover, “I would like to live in Manchester, England. The transition between Manchester and death would be unnoticeable.” Over those 2000 years Manchester has changed, some say for the better, some for the worst.

As a Mancunian, author and teacher Kathryn Coase has written an excellent book on Manchester. If you are after a chronological history then this is not the book for you, as this book is arranged by subject matter and, therefore, makes it far more interesting.

Tracking the development of Manchester since the Roman invasion, to a market town, to a new city, and the second most important city in the empire. This book is packed with interesting stories, some of our myths and legends, and some of the characters and families that have made Manchester over the years.

In 1754, the stagecoach service to London took four days, not much different than today when you travel on the West Coast Line, or Liverpool in 12 hours, sounds like a journey on the M62 today. Taking you from stagecoach, via canals to the railways, on to the trolley buses and not forgetting when Rolls met Royce and the rest, as they say, is history.

With a nod to the politics that has always been at the heart of Manchester’s radical outlook, and not just Peterloo, but the chartist and the first ever meeting of the Trades Union Congress, and the Pankhursts. It also deals with the religion, and an interesting Dean of Manchester, crime and punishment (plenty of that with pictures), science and technology to the creative side of Manchester.

This is an excellent and fun book that conveys many of the stories and plenty of the history of Manchester. This is a history book that is actually fun to read!

Paul Diggett 5/5

2,000 Years of Manchester by Kathryn Coase
Pen & Sword History 9781526715098 pbk Feb 2019