Your Manchester on the eve of war
In 1939, on the eve of World War II, the British government introduced an act that would allow them to gather vital information about the country’s population. This information would inform their decisions on identity cards, rationing, conscription and more. The 1939 Register is now available online in partnership with The National Archives, providing an unprecedented insight into a country on the verge of war. Discover your house, your street and your family at the outbreak of World War II.
If you’re wondering how to start exploring the 1939 Register, we’ve created this short video that tells you everything you need to know about making your first search. If you’d like to know more, continue reading and we’ll give you some helpful tips and tricks that will assist in refining your search and allow you to discover a world on the eve of war.
As war broke out in September 1939, a National Register was taken, recording the names and details of 41 million civilians in England and Wales. In this exclusive video, broadcaster and author Andrew Marr explains the extraordinary significance of this unique record set.
The History of Manchester
The Brigantes were the major Celtic tribe in what is now Northern England; they had a stronghold in the locality at a sandstone outcrop on which Manchester Cathedral now stands, opposite the banks of the River Irwell.
Their territory extended across the fertile lowland of what is now Salford and Stretford. Following the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century, General Agricola ordered the construction of a fort named Mamucium in the year 79 to ensure that Roman interests in Deva Victrix (Chester) and Eboracum (York) were protected from the Brigantes. Central Manchester has been permanently settled since this time. A stabilised fragment of foundations of the final version of the Roman fort is visible in Castlefield. The Roman habitation of Manchester probably ended around the 3rd century; its civilian settlement appears to have been abandoned by the mid-3rd century, although the fort may have supported a small garrison until the late 3rd or early 4th century.
After the Roman withdrawal and Saxon conquest, the focus of settlement shifted to the confluence of the Irwell and Irk sometime before the arrival of the Normans after 1066. Much of the wider area was laid waste in the subsequent Harrying of the North.