The Cathedral, 1914–83
in Manchester Cathedral
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This chapter examines the history of the Cathedral from the outbreak of the First World War until the 1980s, a period in which it faced major challenges. The first was that the city was changing shape, with its centre of gravity moving away from the Cathedral. A number of inter-war commercial buildings were much taller than the Cathedral, while the civic quarter expanded with the construction of the Central Library (1934) and Town Hall Extension (1938). This separation was exacerbated first by the bombing of the Cathedral area in the Second World War and then by the depredations of town planners, who almost choked the Cathedral by surrounding it with large modern buildings. A second problem afflicted the city as a whole: its loss of national and international influence. Many of the things that had made Manchester internationally famous – cotton, free trade, Liberalism – were in terminal decline by the inter-war period. A third obstacle was the general decline in religious observance that occurred in Britain between 1914 and 1983. However, none of these obstacles was insuperable, and successive deans and canons proved resourceful at finding ways of remaining a ‘rallying point’.

Manchester Cathedral

A history of the Collegiate Church and Cathedral, 1421 to the present

Editor: Jeremy Gregory

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