AskDefine | Define hulme

Extensive Definition

Hulme is a district and electoral ward of the city of Manchester, in North West England. Historically within the boundaries of Lancashire.
Just south of Manchester city centre, it is a predominantly residential suburb with a significant industrial past.


see also History of Manchester


Hulme derives its name from the Danish word for a small island, or land surrounded by water or marsh. Which it may well have been when first settled by Norse invaders, as it is surrounded by water on three sides by the rivers Irwell, Medlock, and Cornbrook.

Early history

Hulme was evidenced as a separate community south of the River Medlock from Manchester in 15th century map prints. Until the 18th century it remained a solely a farming area, and pictures from the time show an idyllic scene of crops, sunshine and country life. The area remained entirely rural until the Bridgewater Canal was cut and the Industrial Revolution swept economic change through the neighbouring district of Castlefield where the Duke's (Duke of Bridgewater) canal terminated, and containerised transportation of coal and goods rose as an industry to support the growing textile industries of Manchester. It was this supply of cheap coal from the Duke's mines at Worsley that allowed the textile industry of Manchester to grow.

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought development to the area, and jobs to the poor, carrying coal from the 'Starvationer' (very narrow canal boats), to be carted off along Deansgate.
Many cotton mills and a railway link to Hulme soon followed, and thousands of people came to work in the rapidly expanding mills in the city. The number of people living in Hulme multiplied 50-fold during the first half of the 19th century. Housing had to be built rapidly, and space was limited, which resulted in low-quality housing interspersed with the myriad smoking chimneys of the mills and the railway. Added to the lack of sanitation and rampant spread of disease, this gave an extremely low quality of life for residents. Reports of the time suggest that at times the air quality became so poor that poisonous fumes and smoke literally "blocked out the sun" for long periods.
By 1844, the situation had grown so serious that Manchester Borough Council had to pass a law banning further building. However, the thousands of "slum" homes that were already built continued to be lived in, and many were still in use into the first half of the 20th century.

Post Second World War

At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom had a need for quality housing, with a rapidly increasing "baby boomer" population increasingly becoming unhappy with the prewar and wartime "austerity" of their lives, and indeed, their living space.
By the start of the 1960s England had begun to remove many of the 19th century slums and consequently, most of the slum areas of Hulme were demolished. The modernist and brutalist architectural style of the period, as well as practicalities of speed and cost of construction dictated high rise "modular" living in tower blocks and "cities in the sky" consisting of deck-access apartments and terraces.
In Hulme, a new and (at the time) innovative design for deck access and tower living was attempted. This consisted of curved rows of low-rise flats with deck access far above the streets was created, known as the "Crescents" (which were, with unintentional irony, architecturally based on terraced housing in Bath). In this arrangement, motor vehicles remained on ground level with pedestrians on concrete walkways overhead, above the smoke and fumes of the street.
People living in these new flats were rehoused from decaying Victorian slums which lacked electricity, running water, bathrooms or indoor toilets, and were mostly overcrowded.
High-density housing was balanced with large green spaces and trees below, and the pedestrian had priority on the ground over cars. The 1960s redevelopment of Hulme split the area's new council housing into a number of sections. Hulme 2 was the area between Jackson Crescent and Royce Road. Hulme 3 was between Princess Road and Boundary Road based along the pedestrianised Epping Walk, Hulme 4 was between Princess Road and Royce Road and Hulme 5 - the "Crescents" themselves were between Royce Road and Rolls Crescent.
The names of the "Crescents" harked back to the Georgian Era, being named after architects of that time: Robert Adam Crescent, Charles Barry Crescent, William Kent Crescent and John Nash Crescent, together with Hawksmoor Close (a small straight block of similar design attached to Charles Barry Crescent).
At the time, the "Crescents" won several design awards, and introduced technologies such as underfloor heating to the masses. They were also popular because they were some of the first council homes in Manchester to have central heating. The development even had some notable first occupants, such as Nico and Alain Delon.
However, what eventually turned out be recognised as poor design, workmanship, and maintenance meant that the crescents introduced their own problems. Design flaws and unreliable 'system build' construction methods, as well as the 1970s Oil Crisis meant that heating the poorly insulated homes became too expensive for their low income residents, and the crescents soon became notorious for being cold, damp and riddled with cockroaches and other vermin.
Crime and drug abuse became significant problems in Hulme, as police did not patrol the long, often dark decks, due to the fact that they were not officially considered streets. The decks made muggings and burglary relatively easy, as any crime could be carried out in almost total privacy, with no hope for quick assistance from police below.
The crescents became troublesome very shortly after their construction - within a decade, they were declared 'unfit for purpose', and several plans were drawn up that suggested various differing types of renovation and renewal for the blocks, including splitting the buildings into smaller, more manageable structures by removing sections.

Modern Hulme

After over 25 years, the decision was made in the early 1990s to demolish the blocks completely and replace them with more traditional housing. The area now consists of a mix of private and council low-rise housing, which had developed into a popular and desirable area by the year 2000.
Changing the reputation of Hulme that was gained in the 1970s and 1980s has been a long process, but one that appears to be being achieved. A green area, the Birley Fields, has been partly developed for a series of office blocks, and partly retained as urban parkland. The office development houses companies such as Michelin, Laing O'Rourke, and the University of Manchester/IFL/Server Hotel data centre.
One significant part of 1970s Hulme that still exists is the Moss Side Sports and Leisure Complex. Upgraded for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the centre has a gym and a variety of other sporting facilities.
Hulme's proximity to the city centre has meant that it has become a popular place to live for a new generation of city dwellers; students of the University of Manchester are also choosing to live in many of the student-focused residential developments in the area.


Hulme is a ward of the city of Manchester. It is represented on the city council by Councillors Mary Murphy, Emily Lomax and Nigel Murphy. The district is part of the Manchester Central parliamentary constituency, which is currently represented at Westminster by Tony Lloyd MP. In common with the rest of Greater Manchester (Lancashire), Hulme is part of the North West England European Parliament constituency.


further Geography of Greater Manchester Hulme is only 20 minutes walk from Manchester city centre. Hulme neighbours Moss Side, which has had a similarly notorious reputation in modern times.


further Demography of Greater Manchester Hulme also enjoys a very diverse population, both ethnically (the main groups being white British and black British), and in age spread and lifestyle. Ethnic group - percentages; white (persons)% 67.97
Ethnic group - percentages; mixed (persons)% 5.95 Ethnic group - percentages; Asian or Asian British (persons)% 5.39 Ethnic group - percentages; black or black British (persons)% 15.19 Ethnic group - percentages; Chinese or other ethnic group (persons)% 5.50

Rolls Royce

In 1904, Henry Royce and Charles Stewart Rolls created a business partnership after meeting at Manchester's Midland Hotel and decided to start to build their own versions of the relatively new invention of the motor car - and chose Hulme for their first Rolls-Royce factory, though moving to Derby shortly afterwards.
Many street names in the current Hulme commemorate this little piece of history, such as Royce Road and Rolls Crescent, though the Royce public house, a popular drinking establishment with a distinctive ceramic historical 'mural' was razed for the creation of modern flats, in the 1990s regeneration of Hulme.

Notable people

Actor Alan Igbon, best known for playing Loggo in Alan Bleasdale's TV drama Boys from the Blackstuff, was born in Hulme. Morrissey, lead singer of The Smiths, spent his childhood in Hulme and neighbouring Moss Side. Rowland Detrosier, a radical politician, preacher and educator, particularly associated with Victorian Manchester, was also brought up in Hulme.
Jazz trumpeter Kevin Davy lived in Hulme during his time as a student at Manchester Polytechnic. Poet and BBC Radio 4 presenter Lemn Sissay spent the first 17 years of his life in care, in Hulme and its surrounding areas. TV presenter and author John Robb lives in Hulme. A Certain Ratio called the flats home in the 1980s and The Kitchen, 3 transformed flats provided a venue for acid house parties was a 10 minute walk for the legendary Hacienda Club.
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