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14th October 2013

Manchester’s rainy reputation debunked

A 1926 rain map may have sparked off Manchester’s reputation as the rainiest city in the country

Manchester’s rainy reputation may have started with a rain map, found in a council report from 1926.

Manchester Corporation recently published the report, digitised by Dr Martin Dodge.

“We take for granted that the British have always seen Manchester as its rainiest city, but in the 1920s this wasn’t necessarily the case,” said Dodge.

The 1926 report emerged from a collection, including eight others, as being the most detailed record of the area to date.  It was originally published by the “Manchester and District Joint Planning Advisory Committee.” The rain map, included in the report, showed Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham receiving copious amounts of rainfall.

Dodge debunked the myth that Manchester is the UK’s rainiest city, “In fact, this is clearly a myth: just this January, the Met Office showed that far from being the UK’s rainiest city, our city is one of the driest.

“So the perception must have come from somewhere and this compelling map might at least partly explain it, though its intention was merely to describe the physical landscape of the region as part of a survey.”

Councillor Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said, “We’re always mystified when people make the strange claim that it always rains here.  Of course the truth is that our annual rainfall is below the UK average – and always has been.”

The University of Manchester, in collaboration with the Manchester City Council and the Manchester Statistical Society, have made the reports, which detail 40 years of the city’s history, available online for the public.

The documents consist of survey maps and scheme plans.  They recorded the local authorities’ attempts to deal with industrialisation and rocketing urban growth rates.

Councillor Battle added, “Digitising this rich collection of maps and reports so that people can view them for free online is a great way of bringing the city’s rich history to life.”

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