Northenden is a suburban area and electoral ward of the city of Manchester in North West England. The population of the ward taken at the 2011 census was 14,771. It lies on the south side of both the River Mersey and the M60 motorway, 4.2 miles (6.8 km) west of Stockport and 5.2 miles (8.4 km) south of Manchester city centre. Northenden is one of several areas in the Wythenshawe district of South Manchester. It is bounded by the districts of Didsbury to the north, Gatley to the east, and the rest of Wythenshawe to the south and west.
Anciently a part of Cheshire, Northenden was formerly a rural township and parish within the hundred of Bucklow. Despite a process of unplanned urbanisation and population growth in its neighbours during the 19th century, Northenden remained a comparatively rural and unpopulated area which spanned the hamlets of Lawton Moor, Northern Moor, Rose Hill and a part of what is now Wythenshawe. By 1866 Northenden had coalesced and became a civil parish. The industrialisation of neighbouring Manchester resulted in overpopulation, and so in the early 20th century Manchester City Council used the Local Government Act 1929 to extend its boundaries to encompass Northenden in 1931.
Northenden was mentioned as Norwordine in the Domesday Book of 1086; its name came from Anglo-Saxon Norþ-worþign = “north enclosure”. It was then a small farming community with a manor house and woodland. In later times Northenden was sometimes called Northen.
There was a weir on the Mersey in the 14th century (where Mill Lane is now), and a mill was set up there to grind corn. It is recorded in the 16th century as belonging to the Tatton family of Wythenshawe Hall, who had the right to make all their tenants use the mill on payment of a fee. The weir and mill were demolished in the early 1960s.
As Northenden is on a major (and very old) crossing place of the Mersey on the “Salt Road” from Cheshire to Manchester, it prospered in medieval times. The ford was an important way into and out of and into Manchester (now Ford Lane), as there was no bridge over the Mersey between Sale and Stockport, until in 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army built a troop-bridge out of big poplar tree trunks where the B5095 (Manchester Road, Didsbury) now crosses the Mersey, south of Didsbury, in his abortive attempt to seize the crown of England. The Northenden ford was unusual because its northern and southern ends were not opposite each other, but people using the ford had to wade about 500 feet along the riverbed. The Simon’s Bridge was built at the ford in 1901 to help access to Poor’s Field, and the rent from this field was used by the church to buy blankets and clothes for the needy.
Distance from Manchester enabled Northenden to avoid the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The nearest it came to industrialisation was a cottage industry in flax spinning. In the 1980s the area became part of the Mersey Valley Park, and the banks of the river form part of the Mersey Valley Trail.
Northenden began to develop as an attractive riverside township for Manchester’s more affluent managers, clerks and tradesmen, and the Victorian and Edwardian development gives the village much of its present character. In the wake of Manchester’s acquisition of Wythenshawe for a new Garden City, Northenden became an official district of Manchester in 1931.
Northenden is often referred to as a village by the locals, but was engulfed in suburban housing as the very large Wythenshawe housing estate was built during the first half of the 20th century. Northenden, whose centre was formerly Church Road, rapidly developed a new shopping centre along Palatine Road (a new road built to connect with Manchester) to service the new neighbourhood with shops, schools, a cinema (closed 1974), hotels, churches, small businesses and service industries. Eventually, a larger shopping centre and various amenities were built in the centre of Wythenshawe in the late 1960s, though Northenden still is busy.
Northenden railway station served the area between 1866 and 1964, being located between Sharston Road and Longley Lane. Passenger trains from Stockport Tiviot Dale to Warrington and Liverpool stopped here.