The medieval town of Manchester grew at the confluence of the River Irk and Irwell. The opening of the Bridgewater Canal signalled the start of the Industrial Revolution and the town was transformed into Cottonopolis. Railway links and the vast increase in the cotton and textile trade were major factors in the development of Cheetham Hill. Crumpsall was a pleasant village in the early nineteenth century, but the workhouse and the industry in Lower Crumpsall changed the area forever. Blackley, although an ancient township, was very much a backwater until dye works were developed in the Irk valley. Heaton Park sits on high ground overlooking the city, and the hall and parkland have long been a haven for the people of North Manchester. Moston was even more remote, and the land was only peat bog and barren. However, demolition, deindustrialisation and new development brought about permanent change.
Having been born in North Manchester, Jean has managed the local history collection in Widnes library for many years. She has also created the image website for Halton (www.picturehalton.gov.uk) and has published a number of heritage walk leaflets for Halton Library Service. She is now an adult tutor, offering courses in family history. John has numerous production credits in theatre, TV & film (BBC & Granada). He has worked mainly for the last decade in portrait, film and artscape photography.