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Didsbury clock tower.jpg
The Clock Tower in Didsbury village
Grid reference: SJ847912
Location: 53°24’60"N, 2°13’52"W
Population: 26,788  (2011)
Post town: Manchester
Postcode: M20
Dialling code: 0161
Local Government
Council: Manchester
Manchester Withington

Didsbury is a town which has become a suburb of Manchester, in Lancashire. It is in the very southern edge of the county, standing on the north bank of the River Mersey which marks the boundary with Cheshire. Didsbury is four and a half miles south of Manchester city centre. The recorded population at the 2011 census was 26,788.

There are records of Didsbury existing as a small hamlet as early as the 13th century.[1] Its early history was dominated by being part of the Manor of Withington, a feudal estate that covered a large part of what is now the south of Manchester. Didsbury was described during the 18th century as a township separate from outside influence.[2] In 1745, Charles Stuart the Young Pretender crossed the Mersey at Didsbury in the Jacobite march south from Manchester to Derby, and again in the subsequent retreat.[3]

Didsbury was largely rural until the mid-19th century, when it underwent development and urbanisation during the Industrial Revolution.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was formed in Didsbury in 1889.[4]


Didsbury derives its name from the Old English Dyddi's burg, from an otherwise unknown local lord.[5] It is a strategic position, with a low cliff overlooking a place where the River Mersey could be forded.

In the 13th century Didsbury was variously referred to as Dydesbyre, Dydesbiri, Didsbury, or Dodesbury.[3]


Parish Church

Church of St James, Didsbury

A charter granted in about 1260 shows that a corn-grinding mill was operating in Didsbury, along the River Mersey,[3] but the earliest reference to Didsbury is in a document dating from 1235, recording a grant of land for the building of a chapel.[6] The church was named St James Church in 1855. It underwent major refurbishment in 1620 and again in the 19th century, although most of the stonework visible today dates from the 17th century.[7] A parsonage was built next to one of the two public houses that flanked the nearby village green, Ye Olde Cock Inn, so-called because of the cockfighting that used to take place there. The parsonage soon gained a reputation for being haunted; servants refused to sleep on the premises, and it was abandoned in 1850. Local alderman Fletcher Moss bought the house in 1865, and lived in it for more than 40 years. In 1902, he installed wrought iron gates at the entrance to the parsonage's garden, which, because of the building's reputation, became known locally as "the gates to Hell". The parsonage became a museum, now closed, but the gardens are still open to the public. The area around St James Church has the highest concentration of listed buildings in Manchester, outside the city centre.[8]

River Mersey

Didsbury was one of the few places between Stretford and Stockport where the River Mersey could be forded, which made it significant for troop movements during the Civil War, in which Manchester was on the Parliamentarian side. The Royalist commander, Prince Rupert, stationed himself at Didsbury Ees, to the south of Barlow Moor. It is also likely that Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender (or "Bonnie Prince Charlie") crossed the Mersey at Didsbury in 1745, in the Jacobite march south from Manchester to Derby, and again in his subsequent retreat.

Immigration from Europe

Jewish immigrants started to arrive in Manchester from the late 18th century, initially settling mainly in the suburbs to the north of the city. From the 1890s onwards, many of them moved to what were seen as the more "sophisticated" suburbs in the south, such as Withington and Didsbury.[9] The influx of Jewish immigrants led to West Didsbury being nicknamed "Yidsbury" and Palatine Road, a main road through West Didsbury, "Palestine Road".

19th and 20th centuries

During the Victorian expansion of Manchester, Didsbury developed as a prosperous settlement; a few mansions from the period still exist on Wilmslow Road between Didsbury Village and Parrs Wood to the east and Withington to the north, but they have now been converted to nursing homes and offices. The opening of the Midland Railway line in 1880 contributed greatly to the rapid growth in the population of Didsbury, with stations at Didsbury and Withington and West Didsbury offering easy rail connections to Manchester Central. The line closed in 1967, although Didsbury station building remained standing until its demolition in the 1980s. The station clock and water fountain have survived, dedicated to local doctor and campaigner for the poor, Dr. J. Milson Rhodes.[2]

On 28 April 1910, French pilot Louis Paulhan landed his Farman biplane in Barcicroft Fields, Pytha Fold Farm, on the borders of Withington, Burnage and Didsbury, at the end of the first flight from London to Manchester in under 24 hours, with one short overnight stop at Lichfield. Arriving at 5:30 am, Paulhan beat the British contender, Claude Grahame-White, winning a £10,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail. This was the first powered flight into Manchester from any point outside the city. Two special trains were chartered to the newly built but unopened Burnage Station to take spectators to the landing, many of whom had stood throughout the night. Paulhan's progress was followed throughout by a special train carrying his wife, Henri Farman and his mechanics. Afterwards his train took the party to a civic reception given by the Lord Mayor of Manchester in the Town Hall. A house in Paulhan Road, constructed in the 1930s near the site of his landing, is marked by a blue plaque to commemorate his achievement.


It is uncertain when the first chapel was built in Didsbury, but it is thought to have been before the middle of the 13th century. When the plague reached the village in 1352 the chapel yard was consecrated to provide a cemetery for the victims, it being "inconvenient to carry the dead all the way to Manchester".[10]


Sir William Siemens House in Didsbury

As of the 2001 census, Didsbury had an estimated workforce of 10,755 or 75% of the population. Economic status in Didsbury was: 48% in full-time employment, 11% retired, 10% self-employed, 8% in part-time employment, 4% full-time student (without job), 4% housewife/husband or carer, 4% permanently sick or disabled, 4% unemployed, and 2% economically inactive for unstated reasons. Didsbury's 48% rate of full-time employment compares with 33% in Manchesteris better than the national average. The area's 4% unemployment rate is in contrast to Manchester's rate of 9%.

In 2001, the main industries of employment in Didsbury were 20% property and business services, 15% education, 15% health and social work, 10% retail and wholesale, 9% manufacturing, 6% transport and communications, 5% financial services, 4% hotels and restaurants, 4% construction, 4% public administration and defence, and 8% other. These figures were similar to those from surrounding areas, but Didsbury did have a relatively larger education sector than other nearby wards, perhaps explained by the high density of schools in the area. A significant number of people (12%) commute to areas outside Didsbury; at the 2001 census there were 6,555 jobs in Didsbury, compared with the 7,417 employed residents.[11]

Siemens occupies the Sir William Siemens House in West Didsbury and in 2009 employed 800 people.

The head office of BA CityFlyer is in Didsbury.[12] British Airways has an office with 300 employees in Pioneer House on the 292,000 square feet (27,100 m2), Dutch owned Towers Business Park. In 2005, other tenants of the business park included Cisco, Logica, Regus, Trinity Integrated Systems limited, and Thorn Lighting.[13][14]

Didsbury is considered to form a "stockbroker belt",[15] as it is Manchester's most affluent suburb.[16]


Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden

The original site of Didsbury Village is in the conservation area now known as Didsbury St James, about half a mile to the south of what is today's village centre.[17]

The traditional independent retailers are gradually being replaced by multi-national firms, raising fears that Didsbury may lose its individual identity and become a "clone town".[18] However, independent traders continue to thrive, especially in West Didsbury, which celebrates its independent spirit each year with the two-day Westfest festival. The 200-year-old Peacock's Funeral Parlour, one of the few pre-Victorian buildings in the village and regarded by some as the centrepiece of the village,[19] was demolished in the summer of 2005 to make way for a new branch of Boots the Chemists. The owner, United Co-op, blamed changing demographics for the closure of the funeral parlour; with more and more homes being occupied by young professional people, the death rate was falling in the area.[20]

Green areas

The Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden is a 21-acre recreational park south of the village centre. It is named after local Alderman Fletcher Moss, who donated the park to the city of Manchester in 1919. In 2008, it won the Green Flag Award, the national standard for parks and green spaces in England,[21] an award it has held since 2000.[22]

Didsbury Park was also a winner of the Green Flag Award in 2008.[23] It is a community park in Didsbury village centre that comprises a bowls area, crèche, Association football pitch|football pitch and play area. Once a year, at the Didsbury Festival, pupils from local schools dress up to a theme and meet in the playground of St. Catherine's Primary School, in East Didsbury, from where they parade to Didsbury Park.

Marie Louise Gardens is a relatively small park to the west of the centre of Didsbury. The park was originally owned by the Silkenstadt family as part of the grounds of their house. The land was bequeathed to the people of Manchester by Mrs Silkenstadt in 1904 in memory of her daughter, Marie Louise.[24] The park was at the centre of controversy in 2007 after Manchester City Council proposed to sell a portion of it to a private property developer.[25]

Didsbury Park


Didsbury Sports Centre, on Wilmslow Road, is a part of the Manchester Metropolitan University campus. It provides a fitness suite and classes and facilities for badminton and tennis.

  • Cricket: Didsbury Cricket Club
  • Football:
  • Bedians AFC, founded in 1928
  • Hockey: Didsbury Grey's Women's Hockey Team
  • Lacrosse: Manchester Waconians Lacrosse Club
  • Rugby union:
    • Toc H R.F.C., founded in 1924
    • Old Bedians
  • Tennis: Northern Tennis Club, in West Didsbury, one of Manchester's few racquet clubs

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Didsbury)


  1. "Didsbury St James Conservation Area". manchester.gov.uk. Manchester City Council. History. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?categoryID=511&documentID=924&pageNumber=2. Retrieved 22 July 2008. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 France, E.; Woodall, T. F. (1976). A New History of Didsbury. E. J. Morten. p. 203. ISBN 0-85972-035-7. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Didsbury: History of the Village
  4. Milestones - The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  5. |title=Didsbury: Districts & Suburbs of Manchester - Manchester UK
  6. "Didsbury St James Conservation Area". manchester.gov.uk. Manchester City Council. History. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=924&pageNumber=2. Retrieved 20 September 2007. 
  7. Sussex, Gay; Halm, Peter (1988). Looking back at Withington & Didsbury. Altrincham: Willow Publishing. p. 40. ISBN 0-946361-25-8. 
  8. "Didsbury St James Conservation Area". manchester.gov.uk. Manchester City Council. Didsbury St James and its buildings today. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=924&pageNumber=3. Retrieved 20 September 2007. 
  9. "The Moves to the Suburbs". Moving Here, Bill Williams. http://www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/histories/jewish/settling/manchester_jewry_9.htm#. Retrieved 8 October 2007. 
  10. [1] A History of the County of Lancaster - Volume : {{{2}}} (Victoria County History)
  11. "Distance Travelled to Work – Workplace Population (UV80)". Area: Didsbury (Ward). Office for National Statistics. http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadTableView.do?a=3&b=5941645&c=didsbury&d=14&e=16&g=351419&i=1001x1003x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1191932022466&enc=1&dsFamilyId=189. Retrieved 8 October 2007. 
  12. BA City Flyer. BA City. http://www.bacityflyerjobs.com/templates/BACity/locations.aspx?raparam=6B4C5648425533566E7059514A4C3762414B4B624A6767734341644D584F726B. Retrieved 12 March 2010 
  13. BA. BA web. http://www.britishairwaysjobs.com/baweb1/?newms=info85. Retrieved 12 March 2010 
  14. Thame, David (6 September 2005). "Didsbury Towers is going Dutch". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/172697_didsbury_towers_is_going_dutch.html. Retrieved 12 March 2010 
  15. "£1m house puts Didsbury into the stockbroker belt". South Manchester Reporter (M.E.N. Media). 1 March 2002. http://menmedia.co.uk/southmanchesterreporter/news/s/365256_1m_house_puts_didsbury_into_the_stockbroker_belt. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  16. Burdett, Jill (25 May 2005). "Didsbury's first £1m apartments". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/160095_didsburys_first_1m_apartments.html. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  17. "Didsbury St James Conservation Area". manchester.gov.uk. Manchester City Council. Townscape. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=924&pageNumber=4. Retrieved 20 September 2007. 
  18. Towle, Nick (8 December 2005). "Fears over 'clone town' Didsbury". South Manchester Reporter (M.E.N. Media). http://menmedia.co.uk/southmanchesterreporter/news/s/507020_fears_over_clone_town_didsbury. Retrieved 18 September 2007. 
  19. "Dying to Save Peacocks". BBC. 20 February 2006. Archived from the original on 23 August 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20070823054330/http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/A9379560. Retrieved 16 September 2007. 
  20. Towle, Nick (5 May 2005). "Death of a funeral parlour". South Manchester Reporter (M.E.N. Media). http://menmedia.co.uk/southmanchesterreporter/news/s/378568_death_of_a_funeral_parlour. Retrieved 16 September 2007. 
  21. "Fletcher Moss Gardens". Green Flag Award. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080207082527/http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/winners/GSP000967/. Retrieved 29 September 2007. 
  22. "About Fletcher Moss Gardens". Manchester City Council. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080104160238/http://www.manchester.gov.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=2236. Retrieved 29 September 2007. 
  23. "Didsbury Park". Green Flag Award. Archived from the original on 7 February 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080207083255/http://www.greenflagaward.org.uk/winners/GSP001143/. Retrieved 29 September 2007. 
  24. "Manchester Parks and Gardens". John Moss, Papillon Graphics. http://www.manchester2002-uk.com/daytrips/parks-gardens.html. Retrieved 21 September 2007. 
  25. Wright, Susannah (7 June 2007). "Hands off our park, say 5,000 residents". South Manchester Report. http://www.southmanchesterreporter.co.uk/news/s/228/228817_hands_off_our_park_say_5000_residents.html. Retrieved 21 September 2007. 
  • Cooper, Glynis (2003), Hidden Manchester, Breedon Books Publishing, ISBN 1-85983-401-9 
  • Sussex, Gay; Helm, Peter (1988), Looking Back at Withington and Didsbury, Willow, ISBN 0-946361-25-8 
  • Rudyard, Nigel; Wyke, Terry (1994), Manchester Theatres, Bibliography of North West England, ISBN 0-947969-18-7 
  • Scholefield, R. A. (2004), Manchester's Early Airfields, an extended article in Moving Manchester, Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, SSN 0950-4699 
  • Vivian, E. Charles (2004), A History of Aeronautics, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-4191-0156-0 
  • Zenner, Walter P. (2000), A Global Community: The Jews from Aleppo, Syria, Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0-8143-2791-5