St Anthony's Church, Wythenshawe
Wythenshawe is located in Greater Manchester
Location within Greater Manchester
OS grid referenceSJ824884
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtM22
Dialling code0161
PoliceGreater Manchester
FireGreater Manchester
AmbulanceNorth West
UK Parliament
List of places
Greater Manchester
53°23′31″N 2°15′50″W / 53.392°N 2.264°W / 53.392; -2.264
Wythenshawe Forum

Wythenshawe (/ˈwɪðənʃɔː/) is an area of south Manchester, England. Historically part of Cheshire,[1] in 1931 Wythenshawe was transferred to the City of Manchester, which had begun building a large new housing estate there in the 1920s. With an area of approximately 11 square miles (28 km2), Wythenshawe became the largest council estate in Europe.[2][3] Despite it not having town status, the Manchester Metrolink station which serves the main district centre is called Wythenshawe Town Centre tram stop.[4]

Wythenshawe includes the areas of Baguley, Benchill, Brooklands, Peel Hall, Newall Green, Woodhouse Park, Moss Nook, Northern Moor, Northenden and Sharston.[5]

St Luke the Physician Church, Benchill, Wythenshawe


Wythenshawe Hall, a former stately home and local landmark in Wythenshawe Park

The name Wythenshawe seems to come from the Old English wiðign = "withy tree" and sceaga = "wood" (compare dialectal word shaw). The three ancient townships of Northenden, Baguley and Northen Etchells formally became the present-day Wythenshawe when they were merged with Manchester in 1931. Until then, the name was only used to refer to Wythenshawe Hall and its grounds.[3]: 1–2 

Due to spending cuts, the hall was temporarily closed to the public in 2010.[6] One proposition was that Manchester City Council could sell the building to the National Trust.[7] A Friends Group was formed to support monthly open days and events at the hall.[8] In March 2016, the hall's roof, one of its upper floors and its clock tower were severely damaged by a fire in an arson attack. [9][10]

Immediately south of Wythenshawe is Manchester Airport, formerly called Ringway Airport. Before Ringway Airport was laid out, three farm fields between Rackhouse Road and Wythenshawe Road in Northern Moor, in what is now the north edge of Wythenshawe, were used as Manchester (Wythenshawe) Aerodrome. This was the UK's first municipal airfield, operating between April 1929 and early 1930. A barn was converted to act as the hangar and a farmhouse as the administration building. Temporary fuel pumps were installed.[11] The last recorded flight from Wythenshawe Airport was on 19 June 1930.

Area where Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe are now, as around 1925

Wythenshawe was in the Church of England Diocese of Chester until 1933, when it was transferred to the neighbouring Diocese of Manchester.[12]

Housing and social history

Wythenshawe is Manchester's largest district. The massive housing estate that was built there in the 1920s was intended as a "garden city", where people could be rehoused away from industrial Manchester. In 1920, town planner Patrick Abercrombie identified the area as the most suitable undeveloped land for a housing estate close to the city, and 2,500 acres (1,000 ha) of land were purchased.[13]

Part of Benchill (not the area southwest of Gladeside Road) and some areas in the north were built before World War II and called the Wythenshawe Ward of the City of Manchester. The rest was built after the Second World War, starting in the late 1940s as wartime building restrictions were relaxed. Parts of Baguley were still semi-rural in the 1960s, but there is now very little open country left.

The estate was initially built without many shops, amenities or services, and there was very little employment available in the area. Although Northenden already had a shopping area on Palatine Road, the earliest new shops were built in the 1930s and included parades on Hollyhedge Road, and on Altrincham Road in Sharston (the latter was demolished in 1973 to make way for the M56 Sharston bypass). There were smaller local shops, such as a grocers—selling general household provisions, at Minsterly Parade (Woodhouse Park) and Haveley Circle (Benchill). However, it took decades for some areas of Wythenshawe to get their own neighbourhood shops, which meant residents had to travel or visit a mobile shop van when it visited their area. Various residents' associations were set up to address those problems, but progress was very slow.

After the Second World War, Wythenshawe eventually expanded, with several further shops being built (such as Haveley Circle, built in the early 1950s but demolished in the 1990s) and businesses were attracted to the area with the expansion of the Sharston Industrial Estate and, later, the Moss Nook and Roundthorn industrial complexes. Wythenshawe gradually acquired all the amenities and facilities that the original planners had neglected to include with the building of several new schools, shops, pubs and churches. The area also got its own hospital, and Wythenshawe Hospital grew out of the earlier Baguley Hospital in 1948. The largest shopping area was built in the 1960s in the town centre, known as the Wythenshawe Civic Centre, which has been expanded further since it was first built. In 1971, the Wythenshawe Forum was opened there, which included a library, a swimming pool, a restaurant, a bar and a theatre.

From the 1990s to the 2000s, the houses that were built and owned by the council were transferred to the control of local housing associations, such as Willow Park in east Wythenshawe and Parkway Green in west Wythenshawe. Both associations merged in 2013 to form the Wythenshawe Community Housing Group which is now responsible for around 14,000 homes in Wythenshawe.

In 2007, The New York Times described the housing estates in Wythenshawe as representing an "extreme pocket of social deprivation and alienation".[14]

Most of the farm buildings in the Wythenshawe area were demolished when the estate was built. Some of them, like Hollyhedge Farm and Floats Hall, were left among the houses but suffered from vandalism and had to be demolished later. Some of the present housing estates were named after former farms.

Peel Hall Farm (which had a moat) survived for over 20 years[clarification needed] as its occupant lived on the proceeds of selling his land, but soon after he left, the property was vandalised and had to be demolished.

Newall Green Farm survived on the edge of the Newall Green housing estate area and was still occupied and run as a farm until the early 21st century when its last occupant died, when it was abandoned and fenced off. The buildings are listed. In 2006, a firm bought Newall Green Farm's buildings from Manchester Corporation. On 21 June 2014, vandals set fire to Newall Green Farm, and its roof was destroyed, but there are plans to turn the buildings into a care home for adults with learning disabilities, a working farm and a horse-riding centre.[15]


Wythenshawe has twelve parks and 18 woodland areas including Wythenshawe Park, which was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2011.[16][17] It covers over 270 acres (110 ha) of green space and is home to Manchester's only community farm, Wythenshawe community farm. At the centre of the park is the historic Wythenshawe Hall with its Civil War and Tatton heritage. The park also has riding stables, a horticulture centre, children's play area, athletics track, football pitches, tennis courts, bowls and golfing facilities.

Other parks include Hollyhedge Park, Peel Hall Park, Painswick Park and Baguley Park. Northenden's Riverside Park is the first new park to be established in the city in the 21st century.


The district is under the authority of Manchester City Council.

Manchester Wythenshawe parliamentary constituency was created in 1950 and represented by Alf Morris of the Labour Party between 1964 and 1997. Before the 1997 election, the boundaries were redrawn and part of the neighbouring area of Sale included in a new constituency, Wythenshawe and Sale East. Alf Morris was replaced by Paul Goggins. It is still considered a safe Labour seat, with Labour securing over 50% of the vote (and more than twice as many votes as its nearest rival) in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections. Labour kept the seat in the 2010 elections, though their share of the vote decreased to 44.1%. In early 2014, following the death of Paul Goggins, a by-election was held. Labour candidate Mike Kane (a Northenden councillor until 2008) won the seat with 55.3% of the vote, although voter turnout was low (28%). The 2017 general election saw the largest vote share for Labour in the history of both the current and former Wythenshawe seat with 62.2% of the vote and a 15,000 majority, although the 2019 election saw this fall back to previous levels with a majority of 10,396 and a 53.3% share of the vote.

At the 2001 UK Census, Wythenshawe was divided into six local government wards: Baguley, Benchill, Northenden, Sharston, Woodhouse Park and Brooklands (the latter being an area divided with the neighbouring borough of Trafford). Each ward was represented by three local councillors, giving Wythenshawe 21 of the 99 seats on Manchester City Council. Following a review by the Boundary Committee for England published in 2003, the ward of Benchill was abolished, and its former territory was divided between the wards of Northenden, Sharston, and Woodhouse Park.[18]

Wythenshawe typically returns all Labour councillors in local elections, although in the 2008 elections the Liberal Democrats gained a seat in Northenden and a second seat (in the same area) in the 2010 elections. Labour regained these seats in the 2012 and 2014 elections. The Green Party have gained councillors in the Woodhouse Park ward in both the 2021 and 2022 elections.


Wythenshawe is 8 miles (13 km) south of the city centre and is the southernmost district of Manchester. Altrincham and Hale lie to the south-west, Sale to the north-west and the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport to the east, with the suburbs of Gatley and Heald Green bordering onto Wythenshawe's eastern side. Manchester Airport is immediately to the south of the town.

Shadow Moss is an area south of Ringway Road in the southeast corner of Wythenshawe. On this old map of Wythenshawe it is roughly the rectangular area between three country lanes with Heyhead at its northwest corner.[19] On modern maps, its north edge is the southern branch of Ringway Road. It was partly in Northen Etchells township and partly in Styal parish. For many centuries it was a peat bog which was dug for peat fuel, locally called "turf"; local manorial law said that after digging peat the top living plant layer had to be lodged back to let more peat form afterwards. Each man's allocated part of the Moss was called his "moss room".

In the 19th century, manorial control was lost over what people used their moss rooms for, and an 1839 tithe map of Northen Etchells shows Northen Etchells's part of Shadow Moss as about 2/3 arable, about 1/3 meadow, one field as pasture, and one field as "uncultivated moors".[20]

Later, the fertile lowland peat soil led to the area being much used for market gardening, with large areas under greenhouses. Of the people who worked there, many lived in Heyhead.

As of around 1970, Heyhead was a small settlement at the south end of Woodhouse Lane and the nearby part of Ringway Road. It comprised several terrace houses, a small shop, two or more old cottages, a chapel, and the Ringway Haulage Company. Manchester Airport's ground level car parking has been displaced from other areas and car parks have been formed to the north and south of the runways and under the approach path. The Heyhead area has been progressively replaced by level car parks, and by 2011 all of Heyhead's buildings had vanished (see History of Manchester Airport#Expansion).

Some greenhouses remain at the far east of the Shadow Moss area as of June 2012, but are used by private car parking operators (not associated with the airport company) and not for growing any crop. The last market gardener there, who grew tomatoes, closed his business in 2011 due to competition from highly mechanized enormous greenhouse establishments elsewhere.

Public services

Wythenshawe is policed by the city of Manchester Division of Greater Manchester Police. Wythenshawe's fire and rescue services are the responsibility of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and are based at a fire station on Brownley Road.


The M56 motorway, constructed in the 1970s as a continuation of the A5103 road (Princess Parkway), bisects east and west Wythenshawe. A bypass connecting it to the nearby M60 motorway was built through Sharston and opened in 1974.

The nearest railway station to Wythenshawe was located adjacent to Longley Lane at the edge of Sharston on the Cheshire Lines Railway from Stockport to Liverpool. Named Northenden for Wythenshawe, Northenden railway station was closed on 30 November 1964.[21] Wythenshawe did not then have a public railway service for several decades, with the nearest stations being located in the neighbouring areas of Gatley, Heald Green and Altrincham. A station at Manchester Airport was opened in 1993.

The Airport Line branch of the Manchester Metrolink tram service includes twelve stops throughout Wythenshawe. The line opened on 3 November 2014, a year ahead of schedule.[22] In addition to the building of the new Metrolink lines and stations, a new public transport hub was built in Wythenshawe Town Centre which opened in June 2015 and includes a new bus station and tram stop.


The Civic Centre in Wythenshawe. The Park Court multi-storey flats at the far end were demolished in 2007, replaced by new retail and office buildings.

Approximately 43,000 people work in Wythenshawe. There are four areas of industrial activity (estates)—Moss Nook, Ringway (Airport Cargo Centre), Roundthorn and Sharston. It is home to Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe Hospital (part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust), which are two of the largest employers in the area. Many national and international companies have premises or main offices in Wythenshawe, including Timpson Ltd, HellermannTyton, Virgin Media, Vodafone and F. Duerr & Sons.

In 1934, George Hamer Scholes built the Wylex Works to produce electrical accessories.[23] The company was later acquired by Electrium, which is now under Siemens' ownership.

Several greenfield and greyfield sites have been opened up to developers and there are several new housing developments within the area.

The town centre, known as the Civic Centre, was originally built in the 1960s. It expanded over the years and was renovated between 1999 and 2002 to include new stores and other new features, when the city council relinquished ownership and transferred it to St. Modwen Properties. The main shopping area now includes gates that are locked at night to prevent the vandalism that was seen in previous years. The Forum centre, which opened in 1971, houses a library, leisure centre, swimming pool, cafe and other amenities, has also been renovated in a more modern style. For thirty years it also housed the Forum Theatre, but this closed in 2002 and a health clinic and an adult education facility now occupy its space.[citation needed]

In 2007, Asda opened a new superstore on the site of the old Co-operative store (originally built by Woolco in the mid-1970s, which also features a multi-storey car park). A walkway going between the multi-storey car park and the large supermarket building now features a wall mosaic depicting various aspects of the town. After the demolition of two 1960s blocks of multi-storey flats in 2007, new buildings were constructed on the site including a new Wilko shop, office premises and a local authority services hub that provides a new frontage for the town centre from its north-facing aspect.[citation needed]

In June 2022, Manchester City Council announced the purchase of Wythenshawe town centre from St. Modwen Properties as part of wider plans to transform the town centre.[citation needed]

In the media

Wythenshawe is the outdoor filming location for the Channel 4 series Shameless, which shows various shots of the local tower-blocks, housing estates and other architecture unique to this area. Wythenshawe also housed the outdoor sets for the show, which were built on private property. Production moved from West Gorton (in East Manchester) in early 2007, following disruption to filming caused by local youths.[24]

In 2009, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (former wife of Prince Andrew) went to Wythenshawe to make a television documentary for ITV1 entitled The Duchess on the Estate.[25] In it, she visited the Northern Moor area of Wythenshawe to meet locals and discuss their way of life, and to open a new local community centre. Both before and after its transmission, the documentary was criticised for being a self-serving publicity stunt by Ferguson and she was also criticised for her patronising attitude towards the local people.[26][27]

Notable people

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See also



  1. ^ "Wythenshawe". Vision of Britain Through Time. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  2. ^ "All About Wythenshawe". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b Deakin, Derick. "History of the Estate". Wythit. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2006.
  4. ^ Halle-Richards, Sophie (30 December 2019). "One hundred years ago a man had a dream - and that dream was Wythenshawe". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Manchester City Council - Wythenshawe Strategic Regeneration Framework". Manchester.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Wythenshawe Park: The Hall". Manchester Council.
  7. ^ Linton, Deborah (1 June 2011). "Budget crisis could lead Manchester Council to give away Heaton Hall and Wythenshawe Hall". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media.
  8. ^ "Friends of Wythenshaw Hall". Friends of Wythenshaw Hall. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Fire destroys roof of historic Wythenshawe Hall in Manchester". BBC News. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Fire at Wythenshawe Hall in Manchester was 'arson'". BBC News. 16 March 2016.
  11. ^ Scholefield 2004, pp. 222–223
  12. ^ Manchester and its many bishops. BBC. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  13. ^ John-Baptiste, Ashley (2019). "When council estates were a dream". BBC News. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  14. ^ Lyall, Sarah (10 March 2007). "How the Young Poor Measure Poverty in Britain: Drink, Drugs and Their Time in Jail". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Manchester Evening News, page 21, 27 June 2014
  16. ^ "Parks and open spaces - Wythenshawe Park | Manchester City Council". secure.manchester.gov.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  17. ^ Wythenshawe Park. Local Nature Reserves. Natural England.
  18. ^ "Draft recommendations on the future electoral arrangements for Manchester" (PDF). The Electoral Commission. February 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  19. ^ Wythenshawe, A History of the townships of Northenden, Northen Etchells and Baguley, Volume 1: 10 1926, edited by W. H. Shercliff, ISBN 0-85972-008-X, published by Northenden Civic Society 1974
  20. ^ W. H. Shercliff, 1974, page 3
  21. ^ Butt 1995, p. 173.
  22. ^ Britton, Paul (13 October 2014). "New Metrolink line to Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport to open on 3 November – a year ahead of schedule". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Obituary notices". Journal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers - Part I: General. Ieeexplore.ieee.org. 93 (72): 614–620. 1946. doi:10.1049/ji-1.1946.0187. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  24. ^ Leeming, Ciara (24 October 2006). "Shameless on the move". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media.
  25. ^ ITV1 (The Duchess On The Estate - press release) Archived 20 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Carter, Helen (18 August 2009). "Duchess of York's TV documentary angers Manchester estate". The Guardian. London: Guardian News and Media.
  27. ^ Richman, Simmy (23 August 2009). "The Duchess on the Estate, ITV1: The X Factor, ITV1". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  28. ^ Rooney, Brian (23 April 2021). "What a Beautiful World This Will Be". Now Then. Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  29. ^ "Tyson Fury: Fists of fury". The Independent. 11 November 2011. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  30. ^ Bourne, Dianne (20 August 2013). "Take That star Jason Orange watches brother's new theatre production - set in his house".
  31. ^ "Wythenshawe - Caroline Aherne". wythenshawe.btck.co.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  32. ^ Higgins, Jim (30 September 2002). "Obituary: Duncan Hallas". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  33. ^ "John Bradley". IMDb. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  34. ^ "Joe Gallagher: Winning 'boxing bible's' trainer of the year award is like getting a knighthood". 18 January 2016.