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Gorton
Gorton Monastery.jpg
Gorton Monastery
Population 36,055 (2011)
OS grid reference SJ885965
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MANCHESTER
Postcode district M18
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Manchester Gorton
List of places
UK
England
Greater ManchesterCoordinates: 53°27′55″N 2°10′21″W / 53.465314°N 2.172491°W / 53.465314; -2.172491

Gorton is an area of the city of Manchester in North West England, southeast of the city centre. The population at the 2011 census was 36,055. Neighbouring areas include Longsight and Levenshulme.

A major landmark is Gorton Monastery, a 19th-century High Victorian Gothic former Franciscan friary.

History

According to local folklore, Gorton derives its name from Gore Town, due to a battle between the Saxons and Danes nearby. This has been dismissed by historians as "popular fancy". The name Gorton means "dirty farmstead", perhaps taking its name from the Gore Brook, or dirty brook, which still runs through the township to-day. The brook may have acquired that name because of the dirty appearance of its water, perhaps caused by discolouration due to peat or iron deposits.

In medieval times, the district was a township of the ancient parish of Manchester in the Salford Hundred of Lancashire.

Manchester City F.C. was founded as St. Mark's (West Gorton) in 1880. The club was formed with the aim of binding the local community and to combat a form of gang warfare called scuttling that existed in the 1870s. The rector's daughter, Anna Connell, is widely credited as the founder, although churchwarden William Beastow is believed to be the person who played the main part in creating sporting activities for the parish. In 1875, St. Mark's Cricket Club are known to have played and this evolved into the football club later in the decade. The first recorded football game was played in November 1880.

A Blackfoot Sioux chief named Charging Thunder came to Salford aged 26 as part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1903. Like many Lakota tribesmen, Charging Thunder was an exceptional horseman and performed thrilling stunts in Buffalo Bill's show in front of huge crowds, on the site of what is now the Lowry in Salford Quays. But when the show rolled out of town, he remained in London. He married Josephine, an American horse trainer who had just given birth to their first child, Bessie and together they settled in Darwen, before moving to Gorton. His name was changed to George Edward Williams, after registering with the British immigration authorities to enable him to find work. Williams ended up as an elephant keeper at the Belle Vue Zoo. He died on 28 July 1929 from pneumonia aged fifty-two. His interment was in Gorton's cemetery.

Geography

Belle Vue is a locality within Gorton. West Gorton was included in the City of Manchester in 1890, whereas the remainder of Gorton was included only in 1909, thanks largely to the work of councillor Joseph Henry Williamson, then Chairman of Gorton Urban District Council.

Abbey Hey is also a locality within Gorton. It is mostly a residential district, but also well-known locally as the location of Wright Robinson College.

Landmarks

Gorton is home to Gorton Monastery, a Franciscan, 19th century High Victorian Gothic friary. This has been renovated and secularised: it was previously derelict after the friars moved out. The parish left by the Friars came under the care of the Diocese of Salford. St Francis of Assisi RC Church on Textile Street, Gorton, and Sacred Heart Church, Levenshulme Road, Gorton, now form part of the R.C. Parish of Sacred Heart and St. Francis. Other churches in Gorton which were designed by notable architects include the Brookfield Unitarian Church on Hyde Road, built by Richard Peacock and the Mount Olivet Apostolic Church (originally the Anglican church of Our Lady of Mercy and St Thomas of Canterbury) on Mount Road, which was built by Walter Tapper in 1927.

In 2006, Manchester City Council started a multimillion-pound redevelopment of the Gorton District Shopping Centre. The small market and retail area was demolished and work started in late 2007 to construct a new market hall and Tesco Extra hypermarket on the site. In July 2008, the new Manchester Gorton Market Hall was opened to the public. The construction of the new hypermarket and neighbouring petrol station continued, and in late October 2008 the new Tesco Extra store opened its doors for trading. Further retail outlets are to be developed near this site along Hyde Road, such as a Subway sandwich shop and Coral bookmakers which opened next to the Tesco Extra in 2009.

Transport

Railways

Bassendean rail museum gnangarra 07
Beyer, Peacock locomotive plate
DLR train at Debdale Park Manchester
Early light rail demonstration at Debdale Park, 1987

Gorton railway station opened in 1842 as Gorton and Openshaw and was replaced in 1906. It is still in operation today on the Hope Valley Line and is served by train services between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop/Hadfield. The station is mentioned in the 1964 song "Slow Train" by Flanders and Swann, referred to as "Openshaw". There are also stations at Belle Vue and Ryder Brow

Another railway station in the Gorton area was Hyde Road which opened in 1882 on the ill-fated Fallowfield Loop railway line; both the station and the line closed to passengers in 1958. Hyde Road railway station had a brief revival in 1987 when it played an important role in the early development of the Manchester Metrolink system. A temporary station called Debdale Park was constructed on the site of the Hyde Road railway station to host a public exhibition of Project Light Rail, in which a train on loan from the fledgling Docklands Light Railway system in London was driven along a short stretch of track to demonstrate the light rail/tram network in Manchester being planned. This was the first ever light rail vehicle seen in operation in Manchester. Soon after the demonstration, the Fallowfield line was dismantled and has since been converted by Sustrans into a cycle track, the Fallowfield Loop, which runs from Debdale Park to St Werburgh's Road Metrolink station in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

In 1849, a locomotive works was built for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, later the Great Central Railway, known locally as the Gorton Tank. It carried out repairs and major overhauls, producing new boilers and all LNER castings. There was also a carriage and wagon works which had been built in 1881 which carried out light repairs. Both were closed in 1962. Gorton was also the home of the Beyer-Peacock locomotive Company at Gorton Foundry, from 1854, until it closed in 1966. One of the company's partners, Richard Peacock subsequently became Liberal MP for Gorton in the 1885 general election.

Performing arts and sport

Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1854 and is an amateur orchestra. The folk comedy group Gorton Tank were based in Gorton and were popular in the Manchester area. The actor John Thaw, known for his role as Inspector Morse, was born in West Gorton. The painter Michael Gutteridge was also born in Gorton. The Gorton Morris Men were responsible for reviving the rushcart ceremony in Gorton.

Manchester City F.C. were founded as St. Mark's (West Gorton) in 1880 and many of their footballers, such as Billy Meredith and Tommy Johnson lived in the area. Meredith was married at St. Mark's Church and lived on Clowes Street itself for a while. Abbey Hey F.C. club is in Gorton. Gorton is also the birthplace of former England and Manchester United footballer, Nicky Butt. "Bouncing Billy Barker" was a local man who specialised in jumping feats. The former England and Lancashire cricketer's Bob Berry and Brian Statham were both born in Gorton. Gorton was also the birthplace of three Olympians, Jeff Williams a cyclist who went to the 1980 Olympics, Thomas Evenson (athletics, silver medallist in the 3,000 metres steeplechase at Los Angeles in 1932) and George Wilkinson a former water polo three time Olympic champion.

  • (first published in 2002)

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