The German influence in Manchester is significant but often hidden. In this video, I look for the traces of German language and culture and some of the people from the German speaking countries who helped to make Manchester what it is today.
The name Albert is famous all over the UK. Streets, buildings and monuments are named after him. But how many people know where he came from?
Prinz Albert von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, to give him his correct title, was born in 1819. In English we say Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha.
He married Queen Victoria and became Prince Consort. Sadly he died in 1861 at the age of 42. His birthplace, Schloss Rosenau, now in Bavaria near the former East German border, is open to the public and I intend to visit.
Round the corner – um die Ecke – from Albert Square you’ll find Alberts Schloss – a self-proclaimed palace of Bavarian and Bohemian-inspired food and drink. It’s on the ground floor of the Albert Hall on Peter Street.
Opposite Alberts Schloss is the Free Trade Hall, former home of the Hallé Orchestra founded by Sir Charles Hallé. Karl Halle was born in the town of Hagen, now in the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. He came to England and changed his name to Hallé with an accent on the letter ‘e’ so people wouldn’t call him Mr ‘Hall’.
In 1858 he founded the Hallé Orchestra – Im Jahre 1858 gründete er das Hallé Orchester – and brought many German musicians over from Germany. He had a distinguished career. His gravestone is in Weaste Cemetery, Salford.
Friedrich Engels was born in Barmen, Wuppertal in 1820. He came to Manchester to work in the family textile business. He studied the English working class and wrote ‘die Lage der Arbeitenden Klasse in England’ – ‘The condition of the working class in England’. In 2017 a statue of Friedrich Engels was brought from Ukraine to Manchester. It stands in front of Manchester’s HOME arts centre.
In the 19th century German-speaking immigrants came to Manchester. Many went on to generate huge wealth and helped to make Manchester the city it is today. Hans Renold wurde 1852 in Aarau geboren – Hans Renold was born in 1852 in Aarau, west of Zürich in the German-speaking part of Switzerland He came to Manchester and founded Renold Chain. The Renold Building in Manchester University is named after his son Sir Charles Renold. Renold is a worldwide company and its head office is near Manchester Airport.
Siemens is a German company that is a major player in the UK. You’ll find the Siemens name in many places, such as on the doors of these trains.
Simon is a name familiar to people from Manchester. Henry Simon and Simon Carves are prominent local companies. In Wythenshawe you’ll find Simonsway and in Manchester city centre, Shena Simon Campus of the Manchester College. Where does the name come from? It doesn’t sound very German. Gustav Heinrich Victor Amandus Simon wurde 1835 geboren – He was born in 1835 in the Prussian town of Brieg, now Brzeg in Poland. He moved to Manchester, changed his name to Henry Simon and founded Simon Carves and Simon Engineering.
Henry Simon revolutionierte die britische Mehlindustrie – He revolutionised the British flour industry. His son Ernest Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe was a politician and former Lord Mayor of Manchester. His wife Lady Simon was a politician, feminist and educationalist.
He bought Wythenshawe Hall and donated it to the city in 1926. On the estate a new town was built, named Wythenshawe. With its wide roads and yellow trams it looks like Germany – es sieht aus wie in Deutschland.
In England we don’t explain our street names. I think the Simonsway sign should have information about Ernest Simon so I made a version in Photoshop.
Only a short distance away in West Didsbury are Marie Louise Gardens, given to the city by Mrs Silkenstadt, the widow of a wealthy German merchant, in memory of their daughter.
Die Gardens haben eine besondere Ambiente – the gardens have a special atmosphere, like other parts of West Didsbury. Many German musicians, industrialists and scientists lived here, the name Palatine Road recalls Rhineland-Pfalz, but it’s so called because it links the two palatinates of Lancashire and Cheshire across the river Mersey
The River Irwell has a Germanic name. In German ‘irre’ means ‘crazy’, or meandering. ’Welle’ means wave or water so the ‘Irre Welle’ the ‘crazy wave’ might be the origin of Irwell, though it’s not certain. Anglo-Saxon migrants brought their Germanic language to England from around the 5th century onwards and it eventually became the language I’m speaking now, English.
Die Spuren der deutschen – the traces of German people – can be seen around the conurbation. There is a large German community living in the Manchester area today and some of them attend the Martin-Luther-Kirche in Stretford.
In Stockport there is an intriguing sign on a row of cottages on the A6. Germans buildings. Woher kommt der Name? – Where does the name come from? I would love to know.
In the Edgeley district of Stockport where I grew up, there are streets named after European capitals including Berlin and Vienna. As a child I loved these street names, Berliner Straße und Wiener Straße.
In central Manchester there is an area called Brunswick – the anglicised name for the German city of Braunschweig in North Germany. Brunswick Street runs from Ardwick to Manchester University where it was turned into a park.
Woher kommt der Name? Where does the name come from? Caroline of Brunswick was Queen Caroline, Königin von Großbritannien, Irland und Hannover von 1820 bis 1821. She was Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and Hanover from 1820 to 1821. She has a remarkable story I intend to return to.
On Brunswick Street, now Brunswick Park on the Manchester University campus there is the Simon building, named after Henry Simon and the Schuster Building, named after Arthur Schuster, ein Physiker deutscher Abstammung – a physicist of German origin. He was born in Frankfurt in 1851 and became professor of Applied Physics at Manchester University.
Another German physicist was Hans Geiger. Er wurde 1882 in Neustadt an der Haardt geboren – he was born in Neustadt an der Haardt in 1882. He worked with Ernest Rutherford and gave his name to the Geiger Counter. He is not to be confused with the Austrian Kurt Geiger who founded the shop of the same name in London in 1963. There’s a branch in Manchester.
Other German-sounding high street names are Deichmann – der größte Schuhhändler in Europa – the biggest shoe retailer in Europe, founded by Heinrich Deichmann and based in Essen. schuh is a British company founded in 1981 in Scotland. They chose the German spelling for the name of their store.
Remember when you shop at Spar, they are telling you to save. Spar was founded in the Netherlands and the word spar in Dutch and in German means ‘save’.
Not far from Piccadilly Station is Elbe Street – Elbestraße, next to Raven Street – Raabestraße. The street is named after the wide magnificent river Elbe, which flows through Dresden and Hamburg. Elbe Street is neither wide nor magnificent, more Elbegasse than Elbestraße. The origin of the name is a mystery I would like to uncover.
Radium Street in Ancoats was originally called German Street – aber der Name wurde geändert – the name was changed. At the end of the First World War, many references to Germany were erased. The Royal Family changed their name from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor. Rutherford experimented with Radium at Manchester University and so German Street became Radium Street. I think the name German Street should be revived.
Not far away is Dantzic Street, named after the former German city of Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland. The spelling has been anglicised to give the correct pronunciation. The name probably arose from Manchester’s trading links with the Baltic area. I would love to know who chose the name and why.
Der deutsche Einfluss in Manchester ist kaum sichtbar, oft wird er sogar verschwiegen – the German influence in Manchester is mostly invisible and is often hidden, not spoken about.
Dantzic Street crosses Hanover Street. Das Haus Hannover produced five of Britain’s monarchs, from George the 1st to Queen Victoria.
Am Ende der Hannoverstraße – at the end of Hanover Street is Victoria Station where you’ll find a large nineteenth century map of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway. In the far top right are the names of German cities across the North Sea – once called the German Ocean.
Stettin – now Szczecin in Poland, Hamburg and Bremen. In those days you could travel by train to Hull and by ship direct to Germany. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many Jewish people came from Germany and central Europe to Manchester via this route.
They brought their customs, German-sounding names and Yiddish language, which is closely related to German. You can find out more about Jewish-German heritage at the Manchester Jewish Museum.
And at Manchester’s other station, Piccadilly, there are multilingual signs – The one in German says: Willkommen bei Metrolink – welcome to Metrolink. It continues: Fahrkarten sind nicht in der Bahn erhältlich – tickets are not available in the tram – Bitte kaufen Sie Ihre Fahrkarte auf dem Bahnsteig. Please buy your ticket on the platform. Vielen Dank. From here it’s just a short tram ride to the Christmas markets – die Weihnachtsmärkte – held in November and Dezember.
Auf den Weihnachtsmärkten kann man Essen und Trinken aus Deutschland genießen – at the Christmas Markets you can enjoy food and drink from Germany. You can try Bratwust, fried sausage, Bockwurst boiled sausage, deutsches Bier und vielleicht Bratkartoffeln – maybe fried potatoes. The prices are higher than in Germany but you can sample German culture and cuisine right in the heart of Manchester!
There’s plenty of Weihnachtsstimmung – Christmas atmosphere. And did you know the wooden tower with a rotor at the top is called a Weihnachtspyramide, a Christmas pyramid. The Christmas Markets are on St Peters Square and Albert Square, where we began.
And so to the Zusammenfassung…
Der deutsche Einfluss in Manchester ist bedeutend. Im 19. Jahrhundert kamen deutschsprachige Einwanderer nach Manchester. Der Ingenieur Henry Simon revolutionierte die britische Mehlindustrie. Der Musiker Charles Hallé gründete das Hallé Orchester. Friedrich Engels studierte die englische Arbeiterklasse. Es gibt zwar den Albert Square, die Dantzic Street und die Brunswick Street, aber der deutsche Einfluss in Manchester ist kaum sichtbar, oft wird er sogar verschwiegen. Auf den Weihnachtsmärkten kann man Essen und Trinken aus Deutschland genießen.
The German influence in Manchester is significant. In the 19th century German-speaking immigrants came to Manchester. The engineer Henry Simon revolutionised the British flour industry. The musician Charles Hallé founded the Hallé Orchestra. Friedrich Engels studied the English working class. There is Albert Square, Dantzic Street and Brunswick Street, but the German influence is hardly visible. It’s often hidden, not spoken about. At the Christmas markets you can enjoy food and drink from Germany.
If you’re interested in learning German, go to aidan.co.uk/german
Vielen Dank fürs Zuschauen und auf Wiedersehen in Manchester.