Manchester Migrations

The below worksheet was adapted from Postcolonial Manchester by Lynne Pearce, Corinne Fowler and Robert Crawshaw (Manchester University Press, 2013); it was devised by Dr Sarah Ilott, Research Assistant, North-West Writers into Schools.

Manchester’s history has been defined by waves of migration as groups of people have moved into the city, often in search of work. Some of the biggest waves of internal and external migration are listed below, but these are just a selection and you will be able to think of many more examples!


External migrations

  • 1853 Manchester became a city as people flooded in to work in the rapidly growing numbers of factories. This wave of migration included large groups of Catholic Irish, Scots, Germans and East European Jews.
  • 1950s There was a wave of migrants, predominantly from the Caribbean, who were invited to the UK after WW2 to help rebuild the nation after the devastation of the war.
  • 1970s There was a wave of migrants from the subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) also seeking work.


Internal migrations

As well as waves of external migration from other places in the UK, former British colonies and EU countries, there have also been many internal migrations within the city. For example, in 1963 over 80,000 homes were deemed ‘potentially unfit’ for human habitation and scheduled for demolition. This meant that many local communities were torn apart when people were forced to move to different areas of the city as their houses were demolished. These are sometimes referred to as ‘forced migrations’, as people had no choice but to move elsewhere.


Reflective Exercise:

  • Where do you call home and why? Is it the place that you come from or were born, or where your parents or grandparents come from? Do you call more than one place home?
  • What’s your journey? Where have you moved in your lifetime? This might include moving house, moving town or even moving country! How does moving to a new place make you feel? If you haven’t ever moved house, you could think about what it’s like to move school, or the journeys that your parents might have made.


Creative Exercise:

Draw a comic strip or story board to show your personal journey and the places that you have moved to or called home in your life. Think about how you could use the gaps between panels to show shifts in time or space.


Group Exercise:

Make a map of migrations as a class. You might need to use a local, national and world map to fit them all in. Draw arrows in different colours for each person showing where people and their families have migrated.