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Textiles Gallery – Schools

Manchester is built on cotton. Learn how the city got its nickname 'Cottonopolis' and discover the story of the people, machines and products that combined to create the world's first industrial city and change the world forever.

Our Textiles Gallery explores Manchester's extraordinary growth into an urban network of mills, factories and warehouses. Innovation and profits went hand in hand with inequality and exploitation, both locally in Manchester's textile mills and globally on plantations where millions of enslaved people were forced to grow the cotton that supplied them.

Get up close to world-changing innovations like an original Richard Arkwright Water Frame—one of the machines that kick-started the Industrial Revolution. Spend time considering the human impacts of this new world. Examine everyday objects like a pair of children's clogs from Charter Street Ragged School, a local charity that helped some of Manchester's poorest inhabitants. Learn more about the global connections and human cost of the cotton trade through colourful shipper tickets, fabric designs and cotton fibres themselves.

Scheduled dates

Part of the Science Museum Group