Like any major city Manchester is a collection of communities living and working together. There are many different ways of identifying those community groups and a number of obvious means of differentiation. One of the most immediate, and most interesting, is in terms of national/religious origin.
The city can boast substantial Polish, Irish, Jewish and Chinese communities and one of the long-term aims of Virtual Manchester will be to detail those various histories to present an accurate picture of the reasons which draw various groups to this city, and the ways in which those "foreign" people became assimilated in to the city, becoming proud Mancunians while still retaining the traditions of their forefathers.
One of the most vibrant of these groupings is the Italian
community. For reasons of work most of the Italians who came
to Manchester settled in or near to the Ancoats area
of the city, immediately north of the city centre. In recent
years Ancoats has suffered badly from the neglect and
deprivation typical of many inner city areas but there are
still those with proud, fervent memories of the community
spirit which glowed in Ancoats in years past. The Italians
played no little part in the creation and building of that
spirit, and it is a measure of the decline of the area that
the Italian presence in Ancoats can only now be found
in whispers and memories. And yet once it was massively, magnificently
different. Thousands of young Italian men and women making
the long journey from Naples and Genoa and Rome
seeking to escape poverty in their home country and to build
a prosperous future in Britain.
Manchester is a very cosmopolitan city, home to a wide variety of national and racial groups. The region has attracted settlers and immigrants for thousands of years and in different ways each of those settlers and each of those groups has contributed to the created of the modern metroplis which is Manchester.
Virtual Manchester recognises the valuable input of those people, particularly in the distinctive contribution made by the various national groupings like the Poles and the Irish. A record of the process of immigration by each of these communities will appear here and a detailed social history will be documented which will grow into a vibrant record of the personal lives which made Manchester into the city, and the grouping of communities, and the vital role of those communities will feature prominently in Virtual Manchester as the cybercity grows on the Internet.
Our thanks to Serafino Di Felice of the Italian Society for permission to use the photographs (Copyright © Serafino Di Felice).