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Gorton Monastery, Gorton.jpg
Gorton Monastery
Gorton is located in Greater Manchester
Population 36,055 (2011)
OS grid reference SJ885965
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
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
Greater Manchester
53°27′29″N 2°09′47″W / 53.458°N 2.163°W / 53.458; -2.163

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

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


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.


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.


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.


Railway stations

DLR train at Debdale Park Manchester
A DLR P86 stock demonstration at Debdale Park, 1987 in the leadup to the construction of the Manchester Metrolink

Gorton is bordered to the north by the Glossop line (formerly the Great Central Railway), and is served by several railway stations including Gorton, which opened in 1842 as Gorton * 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 & Swann, referred to as "Openshaw".

Other stations in the area include Ashburys, Belle Vue and Ryder Brow.

Another railway station in the Gorton area, Hyde Road, was opened in 1882 on the Fallowfield Loop railway line until the line closed to passengers in 1958. The station had a brief revival in 1987 when it played a role in the early development of the Manchester Metrolink system. A temporary station called Debdale Park was constructed on the station site to host a public exhibition of Project Light Rail, in which a DLR P86 stock light rail vehicle on loan from the Docklands Light Railway in London was driven along a short stretch of track to demonstrate the light rail/tram configuration then being planned for Manchester. Soon after the demonstration, the Fallowfield line was dismantled; it has since been converted by Sustrans into a cycle track – the Fallowfield Loop – which runs from Debdale Park to St Werburgh's Road tram stop in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Railway manufacturing

A company that became renowned for its locomotives, exported world-wide, was established at Gorton, on the southern side of the railway line, in 1854. The proprietors, Charles Beyer, Richard Peacock and Henry Robertson, incorporated in 1902 as Beyer, Peacock & Company.

Richard Peacock had previously been the chief engineer of the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway's locomotive works nearby at Openshaw (north of the railway line), and had seen an opportunity for locomotive manufacture by a private company. An early success was the world's first successful type of steam condensing locomotives for underground railways, of which 148 were built. In the 20th century, the company designed and manufactured more than 1,000 powerful articulated locomotives called Garratts. By the time the company wound up in 1966, it had built nearly 8,000 steam and diesel locomotives.

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 painter Michael Gutteridge was 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. Abbey Hey F.C. club is in Gorton. "Bouncing Billy Barker" was a local man who specialised in jumping feats.

Economy and development

The Industrial Revolution brought work and industry to Gorton in the form of locomotive factories, including that of Beyer, Peacock & Company. Today these sites continue to employ workers in a variety of fields, from local private businesses to national companies, including the manufacturing headquarters of Iceland. A number of retail and recreation sites are also a source of local employment for many in the area, such as the TV and film production studio, Space Studios, which employs up to 300 people. Less than 3 miles from the centre of Manchester, Gorton is also made up of many tertiary sector workers who commute into the city.

The popular television series Shameless, which aired on Channel 4, was mainly filmed in West Gorton. The parade of shops used for filming in the initial series was built on the site of St Mark's Church, Clowes Street, the birthplace of Manchester City F.C. The area has since been demolished and redeveloped with various new social and private housing, new Medical Centre, retail and commercial spaces, as well as the "Space Project", a large-scale television and film production studio with six sound and prop stages used to film various BBC and ITV productions.

In 2006, Manchester City Council started a multimillion-pound redevelopment of the Gorton District Shopping Centre. The small market and retail area were 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 were developed near this site along Hyde Road, including Subway, Coral and Age UK. Regeneration works are continuing to make Gorton "an even better place to live and work". This includes the demolition of all former tower blocks and construction of new homes and parks. House prices in the area are rising as a result of this as the area is beginning to attract more trendy, urban buyers.

Notable residents

  • John Thaw, actor best known for his role as Inspector Morse, was born in West Gorton.
  • Samuel Birch (military officer)
  • Billy Meredith, former footballer lived on Clowes street and married at St Mark's Church.
  • Tommy Johnson, a former footballer for Manchester City F.C., lived in Gorton.
  • Nicky Butt, former England and Manchester United footballer, was born in Gorton.
  • Bob Berry, former England and Lancashire cricketer, was born in Gorton.
  • Jeff Williams, 1980 Olympic cyclist, was born in Gorton.
  • Thomas Evenson, Olympian silver medalist in the 3000 meters steeplechase at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, was born in Gorton.
  • George Wilkinson, three-time Olympic water polo champion, born in Gorton.
  • Brian Statham, former England and Lancashire cricketer, born in Gorton.
  • Samuel Gorton, early settler of North America and fifth President of Rhode Island, was born and raised in Gorton in the 1590s.
  • Roger Byrne, Manchester United player who died in the Munich Air Disaster lived at Wistaria Road in the 1940/50s.

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