March 2019 Meeting: Dr Martin Dodge

Mapping Cottonopolis – The challenge of the missing cotton industry and comprehending the real Northern powerhouse in the nineteenth century

In this talk Martin Dodge will look at the way that urban history and the evolving social and economic landscape of a city region can be explained visually through original maps and old plans. Using the example of Manchester he will discuss recent work on retrieving and narrating a cartographic chronology of growth and change of the city from 1753 to 2018. The results have been published in Manchester: Mapping the City, a large format coffee-table style book co-authored with Terry Wyke and Brian Robson (published by Birlinn in October 2018). He will discuss a particular challenge in this research in regard to understanding, in cartographic terms, how the industrial revolution transformed Manchester into Cottonopolis and saw south Lancashire rise to become a true Northern economic powerhouse in the 19th century. The problem of missing cotton mills on many maps and the dearth of iconic contemporary cartography of greater Manchester’s global textile trade makes this a story that is surprisingly hard to communicate in a popular book.  

Martin Dodge is Senior Lecturer in the Geography Department at the University of Manchester. He completed his PhD at University College London and has previously worked at Cardiff University and the University of Nottingham. Much of his current research focuses on historical geography and the changing socio-economic form of Manchester; he has co-curated several high-profile public exhibitions about the city, including Infra_MANC (2012), Making Post-war Manchester (2016) and Celebrating Burnage Garden Village (2019).


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