The Manchester Blitz, which occurred 72 years ago this month, was the bombing of the city and its surrounding areas by the German Luftwaffe between 22/23 & 23/24 December 1940. Around 684 people were killed and 2,634 injured. Manchester Cathedral, the Royal Exchange and the Free Trade Hall were among the many buildings damaged.
The photographs below, taken from the Manchester Local Image Collection, show the damage caused to Victoria Station, Miller Street and the Assize Courts.
Damaged caused is also documented in 1930s Ordnance Survey maps. These bomb maps have been digitised by the Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collections Care and you can now view all the maps, search by area and zoom into your own street at the University of Manchester Image Collections website.
Fire bombs are red dots, high explosives are blue dots and line mines are green dots. The red shaded buildings represent demolished buildings while pink shaded buildings were damaged but still standing.
In a book issued by Manchester City Council, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, many accounts of the Manchester Blitz were recorded. A former police officer recalls witnessing a direct hit to Manchester Cathedral, on 22 December 1940;
I was having a walk round at about 5 o’clock in the morning with another chap and we were passing the Cathedral talking away and suddenly everything around us went black, the air was full of sparks, and I saw the west doors of Cathedral coming out, and I knew they didn’t open outwards, they opened inwards – but not this time.
We recently received the Home Security Intelligence Summaries for the Manchester Region, transferred from Ministry of Defence in Portsmouth which cover the period September 1939 – May 1945. They also give more detailed information on the Manchester Blitz; including information on damage and casualties, accidents, events at sea and in the air.
Manchester Libraries have plenty of books available for loan relating to the Manchester Blitz, Imperial War Museum North recently released a series of photographs of buildings destroyed on their Facebook page and we also hold many relevant archives which are searchable on the Greater Manchester Pasfinder catalogue. All Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives map resources are listed on our website.