Guidebook for Manchester's Science and Industry Museum
“Manchester invented the foundations of the modern world – and that’s no exaggeration.” – Brian Cox, 2011
The means to travel. The right to vote. The security of clean water. The wealth to live well. The knowledge to split the atom. The power to communicate and calculate. The ability to manufacture, to trade, to innovate.
Compared to years gone by, our lives today have few real limits. Yet the path that led us here was neither obvious nor easy. It required human innovation, hope, sweat and toil on a scale previously unknown. It took a crossover of science, and the application of science, a confluence of industry, ingenuity, raw materials and ready markets that gave rise to new ways of living and working that soon spread across the world.
And it all started in Manchester, the world’s first industrial city, a story I told in the text of the guidebook I worked on for the Science and Industry Museum in 2007.
In the 250 years since the start of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester has felt the influence and impact of industry, science and technology more keenly and profoundly than anywhere else in the world. The collection held by the Science and Industry Museum reveal both the achievements of individuals and the experiences of the population who built and lived in the world we now inhabit.
The buildings that house these collections – including the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station and the world’s first railway warehouse – have been restored to their heyday appearance. They now form an ideal backdrop to a stirring story of ingenuity and industry, science and steam, of market-driven challenge and social reform.