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Manchester was the world's first industrial city. From its towering mills, bustling warehouses and crowded streets came new ways to live, work and think, which went on to change the world.

In the early 19th century, the extraordinary growth of Manchester's cotton industry and the development of its pioneering transport system drove the town's expansion and put it at the heart of a global network of manufacturing and trade. With textiles the driving force, Manchester emerged as a complex industrial city, producing goods of every description.  

Explore objects and stories from our collection to discover how Manchester's industrial transformation helped shape life as we know it.