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Prestwich, St Mary's Church.jpg
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Prestwich
Population 31,693 
OS grid reference SD814034
• London 166 mi (267 km) SE
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district M25
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Bury South
List of places
Greater ManchesterCoordinates: 53°32′00″N 2°17′00″W / 53.5333°N 2.2833°W / 53.5333; -2.2833

Prestwich (/ˈprɛstwɪ/ PREST-wich) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies close to the River Irwell, 3.3 miles (5.3 km) north of Manchester city centre, 3.1 miles (5 km) north of Salford and 4.7 miles (7.6 km) south of Bury.

Historically a part of Lancashire, Prestwich's early history is marked by its status as the seat of the ancient parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham, in the hundred of Salfordshire. The Church of St Mary the Virgin—a Grade I listed building—has lain at the centre of the community for centuries.

The oldest part of Prestwich developed around Bury New Road and is known as "Prestwich Village". There is a large Jewish community in Prestwich and Whitefield, neighbouring Broughton Park in Salford and sections of Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall, parts of the City of Manchester, which form the second-largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom.



Prestwich is possibly of Old English origin, derived from preost and wic, which translates to the priest's farm. Another possible derivation is priest's retreat. Wic was a place-name element derived from the Latin vicus, place. Its most common meaning is dairy-farm. The township was variously recorded as Prestwich in 1194, Prestwic in 1202 and Prestewic in 1203.


The Church Inn, Prestwich
The Church Inn (formerly the Ostrich Inn) next to St Mary's Church
Prestwich Village
The White Horse (left) and the Railway and Naturalist (right), Prestwich Village

Bury New Road roughly follows the line of a Roman road connecting forts at Mamucium (Manchester) and Bremetennacum (Ribchester). It is possible that a Roman fort or encampment was built at "Castle Hill", near the Salford border, mirroring an encampment on Rainsough Hill equidistant from the Roman road. John Booker B.A., 19th century author and curate of the parish church, considered these were agrarian camps built to protect cattle kept in the woods of Broughton and Kersal. The camp was "just to the right of the old road to Bury, immediately beyond Singleton Brook, on the first field in the Parish of Prestwich, which was formerly known as Lowcaster". Roman coins have been found off Bury New Road, near Prestwich Golf Course and some in Prestwich Clough.

A hoard of 65 silver coins from the reign of King Stephen was found in the Sedgley Park area in 1972. The Prestwich manor emerged in the Middle Ages and in 1212 was assessed as four oxgangs of land held by Adam de Prestwich whose father, Robert held it in 1193. The lord of the manor held the advowson for the church. Another Adam de Prestwich settled the manors of Prestwich, Alkrington and Pendlebury on his son John in 1297 but remarried and in 1313 settled the same manors on Thomas de Prestwich, his son by second wife. Thomas de Prestwich had daughters, Margaret who became a nun at Seaton Priory in 1360, but left the convent to marry Robert de Holland, and Agnes who married John de Radcliffe but died childless in 1362. Thomas de Prestwich granted his manors to Richard de Radcliffe for life and after that the manor was held by Richard de Langley. In 1371 Robert de Holland claimed the manor as the right of his wife. Roger de Langley was a minor and ward of the Duke of Lancaster in 1372 when Robert de Holland and a troop of armed men took possession of the manor by force and retained it until 1389. The Langleys regained the manor after 1403.

After Sir Robert Langley's death in 1561 the manor passed to his daughter Margaret, who married John Reddish. Their granddaughter Sarah married Clement Coke and the manor descended in the Coke family, until 1777, when Thomas William Coke, Coke of Norfolk, a leader in the agricultural revolution sold the land in Prestwich to increase his Norfolk estates. The manor was acquired by Peter Drinkwater of Irwell House in 1794 and it descended to his son Thomas who died in 1861. Irwell House and Drinkwater Park was sold to Salford Corporation and Prestwich Council.

In the hearth tax of 1666 there were 97 hearths in the township, the rector's house was the largest with ten. In the 17th and 18th centuries local government was based on the parish structure. The lord of the manor administered land tenure and inheritance, but law and order was kept by parish constables assisted by the church wardens. The local justices sat in the "Star Chamber" in the Ostrich Inn, now the Church Inn, close to the parish church where the justices' seat can still be seen. The village had stocks which remained in use until 1800.

The settlement grew to serve the parish church making Church Lane the historic centre. In the late 18th century the area was mainly rural with scattered farms and small settlements grew at Great and Little Heaton. The population was estimated at 670. Rooden Lane which became part of Bury Old Road was a centre for hand loom weaving and at Simister and neighbouring Bowlee, silk weaving was established. During the 19th century another settlement grew around the junction of Fairfax Road and Bury New Road along with another village centre on Bury Old Road. The area between these centres remained rural, however, the arrival of the railway in 1881 encouraged affluent merchants from Manchester to build villas and move to the town. By 1912 the population had increased to 12,800, and from the 1930s onwards the remaining fields were developed and by 1961 the population reached 31,000 and Prestwich had become a suburb of Manchester.

Prestwich Hospital was built as an asylum in 1851 and by 1900 it had grown into the largest asylum in Europe.


Prestwich lies to the east of the River Irwell and is bounded on the north by Whitefield, on the east by Heaton Park, to the west by the Prestwich Forest Park and the Irwell Valley (Agecroft and Clifton) and to the south by the City of Salford. The two main north-south roads passing from central Manchester to Bury, Bury New Road (A56) and Bury Old Road, traverse the district.

The geology of the area is characterised by carboniferous coal measures of the Manchester Coalfield and sandstone appertaining to the Carboniferous Westphalian C geological age. This is overlain with quaternary glacial drift comprising sand, gravel and boulder clay.

Prestwich Panorama taken from the tower of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin


From the 1991 census the population of Prestwich was estimated at 33,047. An estimated 19% of the population of Prestwich and Whitefield are Jewish and are part of the second largest Jewish community in the UK outside London, which also reaches over the border into Salford's Broughton and Manchester's districts of Crumpsall and Cheetham Hill.

The area in the south of Prestwich known as Sedgley Park has a very sizeable Jewish population and is served by some five synagogues. There are many Jewish businesses, specialist shops and delicatessens along King's Road, Bury New Road and Bury Old Road.

Population change

Population growth in Prestwich 1881–1971
Year 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971
Population 8,627 10,485 12,839 17,195 18,750 23,881 32,594 34,466 34,191 32,825

Prestwich CP/Tn


Prestwich 1904
Tram to Manchester passing through Prestwich village in 1904

Public transport in Prestwich is coordinated by Transport for Greater Manchester. It has good transport links to Manchester city centre, Bury and other parts of Greater Manchester. High frequency services are mostly provided by First Greater Manchester. There are local bus routes, linking Prestwich village to northern areas of Salford including Pendlebury, Swinton, Monton and Eccles. 'The Lancashire Way' and 'The Witch Way' express services link Prestwich to Manchester, Burnley and Pendle.

The first road to be turnpiked was Bury Old Road in 1754 under the control of the Cheetham Hill Trust. Bury New Road, now the main thoroughfare was constructed by a turnpike trust in 1826. Electric trams arrived around 1900, and the route along Bury New Road to Kersal Bar (the location of a toll bar until 1848) was opened on Friday 5 December 1902.

The railway arrived in Prestwich in 1879. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway obtained an Act of Parliament for a line from Manchester to Radcliffe in 1872 and in 1876 began building a line through Cheetham Hill, Crumpsall, Heaton Park, Prestwich and Whitefield. A cut and cover tunnel was built at Heaton Park. In 1916 the line was converted to electric operation and operated until August 1991 when it was closed. It was reopened as the Manchester Metrolink in April 1992.

Prestwich is served by four tram stations on the Metrolink line from Manchester to Bury, at Besses o' th' Barn on the Whitefield border to the north, Prestwich in the centre of the village, Heaton Park in the centre-east and Bowker Vale on the Blackley border to the south-east.



The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin is a Grade I listed building and was at the centre of the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham that extended beyond the township boundaries. It is known that it had a rector by 1200. Parts of the present building date from around 1500, although extensions were made at the end of the 19th century. For a time in the 19th century, the church was referred to as St Bartholomew's. The church wakes were traditionally held around St Bartholomew's Day. The living of Prestwich was suspended by the Diocese of Manchester in 2002. A priest-in-charge, The Revd. Bryan Hackett, residing in the rectory, was appointed.

The foundation stone of St Margaret's Church was laid near Heaton Park in 1849. Founded as a chapel of ease to the parish church, it became a parish church in its own right in 1885. The church was built as a Commissioners' Church to a design by Travis & Mangnall at a cost of £2,000 and was extended in 1863, 1871, 1884, 1888 and 1899. A feature of the church is the Arts and Crafts Movement oak carved reredos, choir stalls, rood screen, panelling, pulpit, bishop's chair and altar rails by Arthur Simpson of Kendal, widely believed to be the finest collection of his ecclesiastical work. Other Anglican churches in the area include churches dedicated to St Gabriel (built 1933–4, St Hilda (1903–4) and St George (1915).

The Roman Catholic Church had a resurgence in late Victorian times. Mass was celebrated in 1889 for the first time since the Reformation. The present Catholic church, dedicated to Our Lady of Grace, was opened in 1931 and consecrated in 1956.

There are two Methodist churches, Heaton Park Methodist Church and Prestwich Methodist Church. There are cemeteries at the parish church and St Margaret's. The Congregational Church on Bailey Street was originally based in a building designed by Alfred Waterhouse in 1864 and was joined by a school, also by Waterhouse, in 1865. In 2006, the Waterhouse church was redeveloped as flats and a new church (by Z Architecture and Design) was built on an adjacent site.

The migration of Jewish families, mainly from the nearby Cheetham area of Manchester and Broughton Park in Salford, and the later arrival of Muslims into this urban area, resulted in synagogues, such as Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation, and mosques being constructed alongside Christian places of worship. There are Jewish cemeteries at Philips Park Cemetery, Prestwich Village Cemetery was used from 1841 to 1951, and Rainsough Cemetery from 1923. According to Pevsner, the 1934 Holy Law Synagogue was the first "purpose-built" synagogue in Prestwich.


Richard Buxton (1786–1865), a shoemaker born at Sedgley Hall Farm published a botanical guide to the plants found around the Manchester area in 1849. In the early 20th century James Cosmo Melvill wrote that Kersal Moor, Prestwich Clough, Mere Clough, the Park and Hurst Clough were the homes of most of the interesting plants. Many other noted local botanists had studied the area including Leo Grindon and Thomas Rogers.

Prestwich Clough near M60
One of the trails to Mere Clough

In 1906 9 acres (3.6 ha) of land were given to the Prestwich Urban District Council by William Gardner, a further 13 acres (5.3 ha) were purchased and the "sylvan and beautiful" Prestwich Clough was opened to the public as a place of recreation.

Prestwich Forest Park consists of 200 hectares (490 acres)* of land on the western side of Prestwich incorporating, Philips Park, Prestwich Clough, Mere Clough, Waterdale Meadow and Drinkwater Park.

Much of the area of the park was industrialised during the 18th and 19th centuries but has been reclaimed with extensive woodlands, reservoirs and grasslands. While this area has become a haven for wildlife, there are still remnants of the area's industrial past. Philips Park has been designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and Prestwich Clough as a Site of Biological Importance (SBI) due to the important contribution they make to the wildlife heritage of Greater Manchester. The Irwell Sculpture Trail, the Irwell Valley Way and a National Cycle Route all pass through the park. The "Friends of Prestwich Forest Park" and the BTCV co-ordinate volunteer activities and events such as the Prestwich Clough Centenary Celebrations. The BTCV has a permanent base in the renovated Philips Park Barn, which has become a major environmental education and countryside centre for the borough.

Culture and media

The Prestwich and Whitefield Guide and The Bury Times are sold in the locality. The Jewish Telegraph is produced and printed in Prestwich.

The Longfield Centre civic hall has one of the largest sprung floor ballrooms in the northwest of England and has been the host venue for Danceclub2000 since August 1998.

There are several private members' clubs in the town including, Prestwich Church Institute, the Royal British Legion, the Carlton Club, Heaton Park Social (Working Men's) Club, and two political clubs—Prestwich Conservative Club and Prestwich Liberal Club.

Sedgley Park

Sedgley Park is a suburban area of Prestwich, within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury. Sedgley Park is roughly bounded to the north by Scholes Lane, to the east by Bury Old Road and to the west by Bland Road/George Street. The district has a large Jewish population, with a number of synagogues. There are many Jewish businesses, shops and delicatessens along Bury New Road, Kings Road and Bury Old Road. The housing is varied, but the bulk of the property is residential interwar semi detached (1920s and 1930s). Sedgley Park is also home to the Greater Manchester Police training headquarters. There was once a park, located to the south-west of Bury Old Road and Scholes Lane. This has long since been developed with residential property (Lanes Estate).

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