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ITSM17 - welcome to Manchester!

There was saying in the early 1900s that, “what Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow”.  This was because of its innovations in engineering and commerce which were at the forefront of the first industrial revolution. 

As we are at the cusp of the 4th Industrial revolution what better place to host the 2017 ITSMF UK conference.  

So how and why has Manchester become such a vibrant city?  It is all a matter of geography, social dexterity and what we in Manchester call the “Mancunian spirit” which has been in evidence since Roman times when the conquers first set up a fort there in AD78.  


The Romans named it Mamucium, and they first brought industry and commerce to the region.  Remnants of the Roman settlement are evident today and the remains are in the Castlefield Heritage site. It is next to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry whose building was the oldest surviving passenger railway station.  The museum is worth a visit as it holds the world’s largest selection of working steam engines and early robot design.

When Daniel Defoe visited Manchester in 1720s, he was impressed and complimented the town on its industry.  This had mainly developed because of two local rivers - the Mersey and Irwell, which were being transformed into navigable transport systems to link the port of Liverpool to Manchester. This further developed the region into a commercial hub for trade and industry as each served the other and then the rest of the nation.

Engineering innovations came thick and fast due to the industrial and commercial developments which brought about dynamic economic and social changes; Manchester was at the heart of those changes.  This forged further industrial developments to spawn the creation of what can claim to be the world’s first modern railway which operated between Liverpool and Manchester.

The Engineering traditions of Manchester are also evident in the history of luxury cars when Charles Rolls and Henry Royce first met in the city. Importantly for us in technology, Manchester has a proud history in computing science and through the continuing work of dedicated technologists and engineers it is still at the forefront of research and innovation.

The city of Manchester’s architecture reflects its history and is intertwined with modern developments. I often like to walk around the city looking at the old buildings trying to imagine what it was like during the industrial and social changes.  It was obviously not good for all people, but technological, economic and social challenges go hand in hand.  What is important to remember is how this shapes who we are as a society today. 

If you can spend a few days in Manchester around the conference dates, you will see the magnificent buildings yourself. The good thing about Manchester is that most of the key sites are within a short walking distance to each other. If you don’t feel like walking why not take the tram or the free metro shuttle. The Manchester I love today is full of lively bars and restaurants, shops and museums and has a vibrant community born out of its cultural diversity.  There are good restaurants within striking distance of the Convention Centre from the length of Deansgate and upwards towards the Northern Quarter. And if real ale is to your liking, there are many pubs and bars serving local brews.

Speaking of a local brew, Vimto was developed here in 1908 and at the time marketed as a health tonic.  The creator John Noel Nichols was a supplier of herbs and essences and he created Vimto to sell to temperance bars to make up non-alcoholic drinks to supplement his income. It proved a very popular drink at the time and remains so today as it is both a summer and winter drink which as marketing material suggested at the time is “pleasing to the palate” and has appeal to both young and old. These wonderful stories reflect the best of Manchester; it being a city which is essentially innovative and creative and one which does not “give up”.

What would I recommend you do if you are in Manchester for a few days either side of the conference? The choices are endless, but try not to miss the exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry on Robots which starts on 19th October and runs on until April 2018. If music is to your taste, right next door to the Convention Centre is the eloquent Bridgewater Hall Concert Venue.  If you are not afraid of heights visit Cloud23 within the Hilton Hotel has some breath-taking views of the city.

Whatever you decide to do whilst in Manchester, I will be very pleased to welcome you to the itSMF UK Conference in my home city; one that I am very proud of.  At the conference I will be happy to talk to you about “the people factor”.  As an educator in ITSM I am keen to learn as much as I can about you and your goals, and how I and other members of the Board can help you achieve them.

With warm regards,


Sandra Whittleston

itSMF UK Board Member


For more information about Manchester and maps, click here.



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