Story 8 Manchester, Bolivia 1200w-min

There’s a whole network of cities, towns, homesteads and landscape features named after this city. In North America there are more places named after Manchester than after any other British city, with more that fifty locations in the USA sharing the moniker. 

There are also Manchesters in Canada, Jamaica, Australia, South Africa, Suriname and most surprisingly of all, Bolivia. All of the above, of course, aside from Bolivia and Suriname, are in the former British Empire. 

There appear to be two main reasons behind naming places after the Lancastrian city, nostalgia and association. Nostalgia in that having crossed half the world people wanted a reminder of their homeland, and association as the place they settled might have been the first in that area to industrialise or to specialise in textiles. 

Trade is the reason behind the most surprising Manchester, the one in Bolivia. Anthony James was born in Manchester and arrived in Bolivia in 1885 to make his fortune at the silver mines in Potosi. However, it would be rubber that proved the great success for James. 

Far away from Potosi in the very remote rain forest province of Pando he established a rubber smelter in association with Simon Patino. He named the town that grew up around the smelter Manchester and he married a Spaniard living in Bolivia, Maria de la Inglesia. They sent their three children to school in the UK. 

James died in Bolivia, the smelter eventually closed and the town declined into a village, accessed best by river. The forest reasserted itself. Thanks, to Roy Cookson and his research for that information by the way.

One of the prettiest overseas Manchesters is in Maryland. The population here are very proud to be the safest town in the whole state and one of the safest in the USA. Very like Manchester, UK, then…er…something like that. The prettiest Manchester of all is probably Manchester by the Sea in Massachusetts with its gorgeous natural harbour. Unfortunately the town has lent its name to a thoroughly depressing movie from 2016. You can’t win them all.

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