Take look at any Manchester City badge of the past 120-plus years and you will notice they all have one thing in common.
Every one of them has a boat or ship on it.
Other elements on the club’s various badges have come and gone, but the one consistent thing is that a boat has remained.
So why does Manchester City have a boat on its badge?
Let’s take a closer look.
Why Does Manchester City Have A Boat On Its Badge?
The boat on the Manchester City club badge is a reference to the Manchester Ship Canal, which opened in 1894, the same year Ardwick FC changed its name to Manchester City. The ship canal was one of the biggest feats of engineering in the world at the time and the city of Manchester was very proud of it, hence its inclusion on the Manchester City badge.
The Year Was 1894…
1894 was a momentous year involving the city of Manchester, and here are three things that happened:
- Ardwick FC, originally formed in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton), changed its name to Manchester City.
- The newly named club introduced a new badge that featured a boat on it. A boat or ship has remained part of every Manchester City club badge ever since.
- The Manchester Ship Canal opened.
Maybe you see a connection between the second and third points there?
Yes, the boat on the Manchester City badge represents the important role the Manchester Ship Canal played in the development of the city.
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A Dilemma For Manchester
Prior to the Ship Canal opening, Manchester had found itself between a rock and a hard place.
It was an industrial powerhouse, dominating the cotton industry, but there was a major problem, the city didn’t have a port for the goods that were coming in from all around the world.
Instead, everything arrived at Liverpool’s docks and would then be transported to Manchester.
Those involved in transferring the goods from Liverpool realised the power they had over their Northern rivals and began charging higher and higher fees to get the goods to Manchester.
The cotton barons didn’t appreciate their profits being eaten into, so formulated a plan to transport the goods directly to Manchester.
That plan was the opening of a waterway that would link Liverpool to Manchester, enabling goods to arrive directly in the city.
The Ship Canal Takes Shape
The Manchester Ship Canal was a massive project, taking seven years to complete, work started on it in 1887.
It is estimated 17,000 people worked on the canal over its lifetime, excavating almost 54 million cubic yards (42,000,000 m³) of material in the process.
Of course, the vast majority of these workers were from Manchester and either supported Manchester United or Manchester City.
In total it cost £15million, which equates to over £1.5billion in today’s money. There was a cost for those living in Manchester though, rates (now known as council tax) increased by 26% from 1892 to 1895!
The city was justifiably proud of its massive feat of engineering, and a ship appeared on the Manchester coat of arms, as well as the club badges of both Manchester City and Manchester United.
You might notice that most of Manchester City’s badges over time have also featured three horizontal stripes, these represent the main rivers in Manchester, the Irwell, Irk and Medlock.
One of the World’s Busiest Waterways
The Canal made an immediate impact and continued to flourish for well over half a century.
In its first full year of operation, in 1895, it handled about 1.4 million tonnes of cargo.
This figure increased decade upon decade until its peak in the 1950s when the Canal regularly handled over 16 million tonnes of cargo each year.
The Canal continued to be one of the busiest waterways in the world right up until the late 1970s.
But as the size of cargo ships increased decade upon decade, it became increasingly difficult for modern ships to fit into a canal built in the late 19th century.
By 1985 the ports were handling around 9.8 million tonnes of cargo a year, half of the figure it had peaked at in the 1950s.
The canal is still operational, but its limitations are exposed if you compare it to the Panama Canal which was completed in 1914, 20 years after the Manchester Ship Canal.
|Max. Vessel Length||161.5m (530 feet)||289.6m (950 feet)||366m (1,201 feet)|
|Max. Vessel Beam||19.35m (63.5 feet)||32.31m (106 feet)||49m (161 feet)|
|Max. Vessel Draft||7.3m (24 feet)||15.2m (50 feet)||15.2m (50 feet)|
In 2011 a £50 billion plan was announced to develop both the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal to alleviate road congestion
A new £400 million port in Salford was opened as part of this plan in 2016.
The reason that Manchester City has a ship on its badge is pretty simple, it represents the Manchester Ship Canal, a massive project at the time and one that was synonymous with the city of Manchester at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries.
This was the same time football was becoming a very popular sport, and clubs were creating their own identities.
Hence a ship or boat features on the badges of both Manchester clubs.
Also the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, the same year that Ardwick FC changed its name to Manchester City.
The newly named club needed a new badge, and it was only natural to include a reference to an iconic part of Manchester, the Ship Canal.
A ship has remained on every Manchester City club badge ever since.