Symbols of Manchester

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Symbols of Manchester
Coat of arms of Manchester City Council.png
The coat of arms of Manchester City Council since 1842

The City of Manchester has various heraldic emblems, particularly the worker bee which symbolises industry.[1] Manchester City Council incorporates the worker bee into its coat of arms, as well as the Red Rose of Lancaster, and three stripes and ship (representing the rivers Irwell, Medlock and Irk, and the Manchester Ship Canal); its motto is "Concilio et Labore" which is loosely translated to "By wisdom and effort."

Worker bee[edit]

A mosaic hive of bees depicted on flooring in the Manchester Town Hall.

The worker bee was adopted as a motif for Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, at a time when Manchester was taking a leading role in new forms of mass production. Seven bees are included in the crest of the city's arms which were granted to the Borough of Manchester in 1842.[2] The bee denotes Mancunians' hard work during this era and Manchester being a hive of activity in the 19th century.[citation needed]

Bees are known as hard workers with a vital role to play in the ecosystem by pollinating crops.[3][4][5]

HMS Manchester is nicknamed Busy Bee after the Manchester's bee symbol and the bee is depicted on the ship's crest which is also present on the ship's funnel.[6] In the early 1970s the famous Boddingtons logo was introduced, depicting a barrel and two bees.[7] The University of Manchester's coat of arms features three bees. The bees are depicted on many structures in Manchester such as lampposts and bollards.[8]

Flower emblems[edit]

Lancashire rose[edit]

As an historical area of Lancashire, the city and wider Greater Manchester county retains the red rose in many emblems.


The cottongrass is the county flower of Greater Manchester

The Eriophorum angustifolium, commonly known as Cottongrass, is the county flower of Manchester. The Cottongrass was voted for due to the association of cotton with Manchester, chiefly during the nineteenth century when the city was given the nickname of Cottonopolis[9]

Three rivers[edit]

The three diagonal stripes depicted in the coat of arms of Manchester City Council. symbolise the three rivers which run through the Manchester city centre: the Irwell, the Irk and the Medlock.[10]


  1. ^ "The rise of the 'greatest village in England'". Manchester Evening News. 2012-11-03. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  2. ^ Frangopulo, N. J., ed. (1962) Rich Inheritance. Manchester: Education Committee; p. II (note by W. H. Shercliff)
  3. ^ Don, Monty (3 June 2011). "Bee happy! The human race would become extinct without bees, you can help save us by making your garden bee-friendly". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Warner, Valentine (12 February 2011). "Save the Great British Bee! Why the mysterious disappearance of billions of bees could mean us losing a third of the food we eat". Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  5. ^ McCarthy, Michael (23 April 2008). "The Big Question: Why are honey bees disappearing, and what can be done to save them?". The Independent. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "HMS Manchester sets sail". Manchester Evening News. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2011. Her funnel crest includes a bee which is taken from the city's coat of arms, signifying industry and endeavour. 
  7. ^ "Manchester - Entertainment - Boddies: 200 years of beers". BBC. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  8. ^ "Manchester history: the bees, the bees!". Creative Tourist. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  9. ^ "Cotton-grass (Common)". Plant Life. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  10. ^ "City and its Crest". Umbro. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011. three diagonal stripes in the lower half, for the city’s three rivers.