Townships: Moss Side

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Townships: Moss Side', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 302. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


The principal part of this township (fn. 1) lies to the north of Withington; there are two small detached portions to the east, viz. on the north-west and northeast corners of Rusholme. (fn. 2) The total area is 421 acres. The whole is now urban, and forms an indistinguishable part of Manchester. Whalley Range lies on the south-west border. (fn. 3) The population in 1901 was 26,677.

A local board was formed in 1856, (fn. 4) and became an urban district council in 1894, but the district was taken into the city of Manchester in 1904. The township contains a free library. (fn. 5)

Pepper Hill Farm, the scene of the opening chapters of Mrs. Gaskell's Mary Barton, stood in the main portion of the township until 1900, when it was taken down. The site forms part of the Westwood Street Recreation Ground.

Several relics of the Stone Age have been found in and near Moss Side.


There was no manor of MOSS SIDE, and the development of the township is obscure. Judging from the later ownership the main portion and the nearest of the detached parts were once included in the estates of the Prestwiches of Hulme, for they were, in the latter part of the 18th century, held by the Lloyds. The eastern detached portion, lying near the Stockport Road, may have been the estate formerly known as Holt in Rusholme. (fn. 6) Edmund Prestwich, who died in 1577, held messuages and lands in 'Withenshaw' of Nicholas Longford in socage, by a rent of 3s. 4d.; this is probably the Moss Side estate of the family. (fn. 7)

The Traffords and others also held lands in Moss Side, (fn. 8) but there seems no way of distinguishing their estate here from other lands held by them of the lords of Withington; some, or all, of their land in the Yeeldhouses was no doubt in Moss Side, as traces of the name remained till recently. (fn. 9)

George Lloyd, representing in his estate the Prestwiches, paid over half the land tax in 1797; the other estates in the township were but small. (fn. 10)

A large number of places of worship have been built in the township during the last half-century. In connexion with the Established Church are Christ Church, 1850, (fn. 11) rebuilt 1899–1904, with a mission room; St. James's, 1888; also, at Whalley Range, St. Margaret's, 1849, (fn. 12) and St. Edmund's, 1882. (fn. 13) The Bishop of Manchester collates the rector of St. James's; the other benefices are in the hands of the Simeon and other trustees.

The following also have churches: The Primitive Methodists, Wesleyans (at Whalley Range), Congregationalists, Baptists, (fn. 14) Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, (fn. 15) Church of United Friends, Salvation Army, and Swedenborgians (New Jerusalem).

The Presbyterian Church of England at Whalley Range dates from 1849; the present church was built in 1886.

There is no Roman Catholic church, but the nursing sisters of St. Joseph have a house at Whalley Range.


  • 1. An exhaustive account of Old Moss Side has been compiled by Mr. Henry Thomas Crofton (Manch. 1903). The topography of the township and its immediate surroundings is minutely described, and accounts are given of houses, residents, and incidents occurring in its story.
  • 2. The north-east portion was joined to the Rusholme Local Board district in 1856; the remainder became Moss Side Local Board district.
  • 3. It was the property of Samuel Brooks, the Manchester banker, who so named it because he was born at Whalley.
  • 4. 19 & 20 Vict. cap. 26.
  • 5. It contains special collections relating to Mrs. Gaskell and de Quincey.
  • 6. See the account of Rusholme.
  • 7. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xii, 4. A similar statement was made in 1598; ibid. xvii, 27. From this it would seem that Withenshaw lay on both sides of the Cornbrook. In 1542 John Birch complained that Robert Hunt and a number of others had taken his beasts at Moss Side in a place called Moss Green; he stated that Edmund Prestwich, who held six messuages and 200 acres of land in Withenshaw, had common of pasture in Moss Green and in 1540 demised a messuage and land to the plaintiff, who thereupon placed his beasts on Moss Green; Pal. of Lanc. Plea. R. 172, m. 13.
  • 8. Moss Side is named in their inquisitions; see further under Withington and Chorlton-with-Hardy. 'Two messuages and 20 acres of land in Withington called Moss Side' were held by Sir Edmund Trafford in 1513; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iv, 51.
  • 9. Great and Little Heald, otherwise called 'Trafford land,' lay on the southeast border of the main portion of Moss Side, as is shown by old estate maps. It is now popularly known as the 'Temperance Settlement' in Marine Road, formerly Dogkennel Lane.
  • 10. Returns at Preston. The Egertons of Tatton were also owners.
  • 11. A district was assigned to it in 1858; Lond. Gaz. 13 Aug.
  • 12. The district was formed in 1849 and reformed in 1854; ibid. 16 June 1854.
  • 13. Ibid. 18 Dec. 1883, for district.
  • 14. Replacing York Street Chapel, Hulme, in 1873.
  • 15. Pal. Note Bk. i, 110.