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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Manchester 'England's second city'
Manchester Town Hall
Manchester has thrown off its rainy, industrial image
Manchester is seen as England's second city by a majority of the population, according to a new survey.

A nationwide Mori poll found 34% of people placed Manchester ahead of traditional rival Birmingham, which has a much larger population.

Tourist officials attribute the turnaround to a more "international image" created by the city in recent years.

The 2002 Commonwealth Games help boost Manchester's position, they say.

City of Manchester Stadium
The Games helped Manchester
The poll was commissioned by Marketing Manchester, the organisation which promotes the city and Greater Manchester.

It asked more than 1,000 people to nominate what they considered to be England's first, second and third cities.

Birmingham was named second city by 29% of respondents.

Liverpool - another traditional rival of Manchester - came fourth with 10%, while Leeds, Newcastle, York and Bristol were also named.

Andrew Stokes, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: "Traditionally Birmingham and Manchester have always vied for the title of 'England's second city', but this research shows that more people would associate Manchester with this title.

Birmingham is fantastic - it is the UK's second city

Sam Warnock, Marketing Birmingham
"Over the past decade Manchester has established itself as a truly international city.

"This is reflected in our booming city centre, major airport and excellent communications and transport infrastructure."

He added: "Higher numbers than ever are visiting the city for its superb hotels, leisure and entertainment facilities and a cultural offering which includes major new museums and galleries."

But Sam Warnock, of Marketing Birmingham, hit back, saying: "Birmingham is fantastic, it is the UK's second city.

Chamberlain Square, Birmingham
Birmingham was supported by 29%

"We have got something like a population of just over one million, with 6.6m in the region.

"We are the most visited city in England for overseas and overnight visitors and we get something like 22m visitors to the city every year."

Both cities have undergone considerable regeneration in recent years, overturning their previous negative images as ugly, industrial centres.

In Manchester, the June 1996 IRA bomb presented councillors with the chance to rebuild large areas of the city centre.

International reputation

Residents now point to its reputation for shopping, music and nightlife as its strongpoints.

Brummies are proud of the international reputation of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

The city is also a major destination for conference visitors and is home to the curry dish, balti.

According to the latest figures in 1999, it has a population of 1,013,200 compared to Manchester's 431,100.

Both cities are also part of much larger conurbations - the West Midlands and Greater Manchester - which each have populations of around 2.6m.

Marketing Manchester's Andrew Stokes
"Perception is a very important thing."
Marketing Birmingham's Sam Warnock
"Birmingham is fantastic, it is the UK's second city."

Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online

Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

13 Aug 02 | England
27 Jun 02 | England
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