Manchester is England’s third-largest city and one that has played a pivotal role in the country’s industrial history. While it experienced economic hardship following the Second World War, Manchester went on to birth some of the UK’s most well-known cultural phenomena. Today, the city’s music, art and literary heritage are found at museums, venues and landmarks that draw international visitors. Those planning a trip to Manchester need to familiarise themselves with new ETA requirements affecting travel to the United Kingdom. Here’s a history of this northern city, alongside recommended attractions and a guide to the UK ETA for Manchester.
Manchester History and Heritage
Manchester’s history mirrors much of England’s own. First established as a Roman outpost called Mamucium, it went through successive waves of settlement by Saxons and Normans. Today, the reconstructed ruins of Roman fortifications can be found at Deansgate outside the Science and Industry Museum. Manchester thrived throughout the medieval period as it grew its wool-weaving industry. The textile trade defined the city by the 16th century and would later catapult the city into a global giant of cotton milling.
The Industrial Revolution
Manchester became the centre of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century. Cotton mills like Quarry Bank Mill, now a museum and heritage site, were among the first to be powered by steam. The development of steam engine-operated machinery led to Manchester’s exponential growth as the epicentre of the global cotton trade. Many well-preserved industrial warehouses, mills and exchanges can be visited throughout the city today. These include Asia House and India House, once the tallest buildings in the country, and the Royal Cotton Exchange, now a shopping centre and theatre complex. This industrial growth also attracted revolutionary ideals, with Karl Marx developing his Communist Manifesto from Manchester’s own Chetham’s Library.
Like many other former-industrial cities in England, as mills closed and workers’ housing cleared by the 1960s, Manchester went through a period of depression. The economic woes of the 20th century provided the background to a flourishing cultural scene. The Manchester-based indie music label Factory Records was the home for popular bands like New Order, Joy Division, Happy Mondays and OMD. Other acts like the Smiths, Oasis, the Stone Roses and the Verve have given the city a strong music reputation that continues at venues like Manchester Arena, Manchester Apollo and Manchester Academy. The city was heavily regenerated in the new millennium, with warehouses converted into luxury apartments and shopping centres, like Arndale and The Printworks offering a retail base.
Museums, Attractions and Things to Do
Manchester has a wide range of museums and heritage sites, including some of the UK’s most prestigious institutions. Visitors can learn about the city’s rich industrial past or trace the footsteps of artists and musicians in the Northern Quarter.
Science and Industry Museum
Alongside child-friendly hands-on exhibits and live demonstrations, the Science and Industry Museum provides a history of Manchester’s industrial heritage. The museum covers a wide variety of tech inventions, from Victorian machinery to present-day space exploration.
Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth
Manchester offers two nationally-lauded art galleries. Manchester Art Gallery was founded in 1823 and is renowned for its permanent Pre-Raphaelite collection and contemporary shows of local and national significance. The Whitworth is a university-associated art gallery that was founded in 1889. It houses noted British textiles, a cafe and artworks by European and British artists from Rembrandt to Hockney.
Chetham’s Library & School of Music
The historic Chetham’s Library borders Cathedral Gardens. This is one of the oldest public libraries in the world, having opened in 1653. The building is older still, first built in 1421 as a priest’s quarters. It houses many important medieval manuscripts and has links to Karl Marx, who researched and wrote from an alcove space here in 1845. Manchester isn’t short of other important libraries, with the Gothic John Rylands Library housing The University of Manchester’s Special Collections.
The Northern Quarter
The Northern Quarter is Manchester’s trendy retail and entertainment centre. It’s packed with public art, boutique shops, cafes and bars. It’s also historic, containing an array of industrial warehouses that have been converted into cultural spaces. This is typified by Mackie Mayor, a popular food court boasting a permanent and rotating list of stalls within a listed 1858 building.
The New UK ETA for Manchester
The United Kingdom announced the commencement of an Electronic Travel Authentication (ETA) system that affects many people visiting the country. It has been launched as part of the new Nationality and Borders Bill to keep track of travellers entering the UK and to assess risks. This affects all foreign visitors who didn’t previously require a visa to stay in the UK. If you transit or travel to the UK for business, education, travel or medical treatment, you must apply for an ETA.
Under previous rules, many visitors didn’t need a visa to travel to the UK. This category of non-visa nationals includes most Commonwealth countries, many European or EU nationals, as well as other nations with travel agreements, like Japan, among others. The scheme is based on the USA’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and will be mirrored in the EU’s European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) for non-EU travellers.
What Are the Benefits of the New ETA System?
The ETA system is a useful scheme for the UK government to screen all arrivals. Previous rules meant that visa-free travellers were not logged. With an ETA system, border control will receive more security information on individuals visiting the country, as well as an extra revenue stream. This will also flag criminal records or immigration violations.
For visitors, the ETA system works like a visa to reassure arrivals are travelling to the UK legally. The process is streamlined online and does not require the applicant to visit an embassy or consulate office.
What Documents Are Required to Apply for a UK ETA?
Basic essential information is required during the application process. ETA applicants should provide their full name, date of birth, country of birth and travel details. To complete the applications, applicants must also provide a valid biometric passport, their contact email address and a payment method to cover the costs.
What Is the ETA Application Process?
The whole process is completed online. Visitors should apply in the days preceding travel. As applications are expected to take up to 72 hours, you should complete your application in good time. Upon completion, you’ll receive an email verification that can be shown when travelling using your smartphone or as a printed copy.
How Long Will an ETA Typically Be Valid For?
Although ETA’s are not fully finalised, they are expected to be valid for up to 6 months like the current UK Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) scheme. Remember, an ETA is not a replacement for a visa. For instance, all visitors that require a visa to travel with stays over 6 months must still apply for a visa. What’s more, an ETA does not always guarantee entry to the UK; border officials can still refuse entry for those inadmissible under UK law.
When Will the ETA Scheme Be Rolled Out?
The UK ETA is still in the trial phase and will begin rolling out in January 2023. Full implementation is expected by 2024.
Who Is Exempt and Who Requires an ETA?
ETA’s are a requirement for all non-visa nationals visiting the UK. Visitors that haven’t required visas to visit the UK in the past may now require an ETA. Visitors that do require visas to travel are exempt from submitting an ETA, as one is already completed during standard visa applications. Further exemptions apply to UK resident permit holders and Republic of Ireland passport holders.
Is an ETA Required to Travel to Manchester?
Manchester is a historic city located near England’s Pennine Hills. As the industrial heartland of 19th-century Britain, the city offers plenty of museums and landmarks reflecting this heritage. For football fans, the city hosts the famed Old Trafford football stadium and the National Football Museum. An ETA will be mandatory for visitors to this city when the system launches. It’s essential to plan and prepare for a UK ETA for Manchester before making the journey to this northern UK city.