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CHEETHAM is located about half a mile to the north west of Manchester city centre. To the casual visitor the area appears as a run-down and rather seedy district of commercial buildings, warehouses and empty streets. But Cheetham was once a thriving township independent of Manchester , with its own town hall. It was he home of one of the largest Jewish communities in the country and retains many traces of this today.

If you look beneath the surface you'll find many clues to Cheetham's importance and grandeur, which in the current era have mostly faded. But things could be on the up and up in Cheetham, though there's a long way to go...

The Manchester Jewish Museum provides walking tours of the area during the summer months. I was one of 12 or so people who went on the tour held on Sunday 15th of July. I was surprised and fascinated by I found...

THE MANCHESTER JEWISH MUSEUM, formerly the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue is seen here in this composite panoramic photograph, with Cheetham Hill Road extending into the distance.

We are looking south towards Manchester city centre. The tower of St Chad's Roman Catholic church can be seen about half a mile down Cheetham Hill Road.

WHERE DID MR MARKS AND MR SPENCER set up their first head office and warehouse? It was here on Derby Street Cheetham. Mr Marks' slogan was 'Don't ask the price it's a penny' reputedly because he didn't have enough English to barter. Like many immigrant entrepreneurs the Jewish Mr Marks teamed up with the English-born and non-Jewish Mr Spencer, giving a hybrid name that didn't sound foreign.

The main building seen here was first opened in 1899. Extensions to the rear followed as the business grew.

There's no blue plaque to remind passers by of the historical significance of this building. Many people may not even know that the first Marks and Spencers store was in Manchester.

Information taken from the Heritage Trail walking tour of Cheetham Hill provided by the Manchester Jewish Museum

NATHAN HOPE'S CLOTH CAP FACTORY was once housed in this building on Derby Street just across from the former Marks & Spencer head office. The minaret-like tower of Strangeways Prison (HMP Manchester) can be seen on the left.

Nathan Hope started his business in the 1850's and by the 1880's it was thriving.

The workforce was mostly Jewish and working conditions were extremely bad. Any operative who broke a needle had to pay for it out of their wages. If they objected, they were sacked. There were always plenty more Jewish immigrants arriving at Victoria Station eager to take their place.

Information taken from the Heritage Trail walking tour of Cheetham Hill provided by the Manchester Jewish Museum

THE TALMUD TORAH school for religious education was the first purpose-built Jewish school in the empire.

It was built in stages. The two side wings were added as the number of students grew.

It's now used as a storage warehouse by a company who have spent some money on cleaning and securing the building. Nothing remains of the original interior.

Talmud means 'teaching' and torah means 'the law. Torah Street is on the left of the school.

Information taken from the Heritage Trail walking tour of Cheetham Hill provided by the Manchester Jewish Museum

TORAH STREET is a potent reminder of the Jewish presence in Manchester. It is to the left of the former Talmud Torah school for religious education.

It's said the leaders of the Jewish community requested the municipal authorities to call the streets on either side of the school 'Talmud Street' and 'Torah Street'. They only succeeded with this with Torah Street, which despite the ebb and flow of history has remained unchanged..

Remarkably this is the only example of a 'Torah Street' in the whole of the English speaking world.

Information taken from the Heritage Trail walking tour of Cheetham Hill provided by the Manchester Jewish Museum

THE MANCHESTER JEWS SCHOOL was once housed in this delapidated building on Derby Street, now occupied by various small businesses, including Cadeau Jewellery, E&E Cross and others. The school was established in 1830 and this building dates from 1874.

The school was extended as the number of Jewish children who came here grew. At its height, 2000 pupils were in attendance. The green window frames on the central roof were once classrooms.

Many immigrants came from central Europe and spoke Yiddish, but in the school, Yiddish was banned and even Jewish names were anglicised. The reason for this was that the elders of the community were keen that new Jewish immigrants should integrate.

The school was vacated during World War Two, when children were moved out of the cities, and never re-opened.

Information taken from the Heritage Trail walking tour of Cheetham Hill provided by the Manchester Jewish Museum

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