This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Greater Manchester (England)

English Ceremonial County

Last modified: 2020-10-03 by rob raeside
Keywords: manchester | greater manchester authority |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Flag of Greater Manchester] image located by Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2014
Considered the de facto flag of Greater Manchester, but not officially registered.

On this page:

See also:

Introduction: Greater Manchester and its Flags

The Greater Manchester Metropolitan County was created on April 1, 1974. On the last day of March of 1986 the county was disbanded, although some functions remained to be fulfilled by different joint administrative bodies. Since July of 1997 the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County has had the status of a ceremonial county. In April of 2011 the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has became effective when the former GMMC came under one joint administration again. The Greater Manchester Metropolitan County (GMMC) and its former County Council (until 1986) had a coat of arms and two flags - red/yellow banner of arms and a blue flag with full coat of arms on it.

The Manchester Metropolitan Borough administration is now known as Manchester City Council; but is a completely different entity from the previous administrative bodies. It has a coat of arms and logo, but has no officially registered flag with the Flag Institute.
Valentin Poposki, 20 July 2020

Greater Manchester Flag
Considered de facto by the public and many organizations

The City of Manchester, even though it does not have an official flag approved by The Flag Institute (yet), does have a de facto flag that represents the Greater Manchester County area. The flag's description is as follows: "The flag is composed of ten golden castles (arranged in rows of 3-2-3-2) on a red background, fringed by a golden border in the style of a castle battlement. The blazon is: "Gules, ten Towers three two three two, all within a Bordure embattled Or".
The ten golden castles represent both the urban landscape of Greater Manchester, and its division in to its ten metropolitan districts: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside, Trafford, Salford, Stockport, and Wigan. The red ground represents manpower and the region's red-brick architectural heritage, both legacies of Greater Manchester's industrial past. The embattled border represents the unity and shared future of the region, and its bold, vigilant and forward-looking character. The flag currently flies in front of the National Rail offices at Manchester Piccadilly railway station". (Wiki image)  (Wiki source) The picture caption reads: "County flag flying at Manchester Piccadilly railway station". For additional information go to the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (official AGMA website) and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (official GMCA website).
Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2014

[Flag of Greater Manchester] Rochdale Town Hall    [Flag of Greater Manchester] Manchester Piccadilly station
images located by Esteban Rivera, 23 July 2020

Here's are a couple pictures of the de facto flag taken in more recent times: The first is captioned "The County Flag of Greater Manchester, flown by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council at Rochdale Town Hall." The Rochdale Town Hall is in Rochdale, which is part of Greater Manchester. (flicker source)
The second example is captioned "The County Flag of Greater Manchester flying proudly at Manchester Piccadilly station". (flicker source) In recent times (2000-2018 at least), the Great Manchester flag has been displayed plenty around the city.
Esteban Rivera, 23 July 2020

[Flag of Greater Manchester] image by Pete Loeser, 20 July 2020

This variant is also widely used and shows the ten towers straight-sided and with black-line details. It was actually the original design until it was replaced with the newer one with curved tower design. Of course, neither of these flags have been officially embraced by the Manchester City Council and although popular, neither have been registered.
Pete Loeser, 20 July 2020

Another picture of this flag is seen here (picture uploaded on November 10, 2010)
Esteban Rivera, 23 July 2020

Greater Manchester Metropolitan County Arms (1974-1986)

[Greater Manchester County Arms] image located by Valentin Poposki, 20 June 2020

Manchester City Council has informed me, "Manchester doesn't have an official flag, we do have a coat of arms though!"
Note: Manchester Metropolitan Borough is the same entity as Manchester City Council.
Valentin Poposki, 16 July 2020

The County Arms feature a flag, which is the one that is used de facto. In that flag, the ten Boroughs are properly represented, each one by a tower.
Esteban Rivera, 16 July 2020

Flag of the former Greater Manchester County Council

[Flag of Greater Manchester Police] located by Valentin Poposki, 16 July 2020

I found an image of the blue flag with full Greater Manchester Metropolitan County coat of arms, with note that it was in use until 1986, as desk and car flag. No other notes.
Valentin Poposki, 16 July 2020

This flag can be located here on flicker. It was first uploaded on June 9, 2010 by its author. He actually said:

"This is the flag of the former Greater Manchester County Council. It is composed of a dark blue background with the coat of arms of the Greater Manchester County Council in the centre."

"I'm not sure what the protocol was for the flag, i.e. where precisely it was flown. Quite similar flags with a variant of the coat of arms are still flown outside of the stations and headquarters of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. Using other county and metropolitan district councils that exist to this day as a guide, I imagine this flag was flown from the council's HQ (in this case, Westminster House in central Manchester), or (more likely in this case) kept in the council chambers. It may have been flown from the council leaders' official car."

Source: Flicker Photo Gallery.
Esteban Rivera, 16 July 2020

Greater Manchester Combined Authority Logo

[Greater Manchester County Arms] image located by Valentin Poposki, 20 June 2020

The current form of government is the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The authority derives most of its powers from the Local Government Act 2000 and Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, and replaced a range of single-purpose joint boards and quangos to provide a formal administrative authority for Greater Manchester, the type of government - Combined Authority - enacted by the latter.
Sources: Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Wikipedia: Combined Authority
Esteban Rivera, 23 July 2020

Manchester City Council Arms

[Manchester City Council Arms] image from Pete Loeser, 20 June 2020

Manchester City Council is the entity that governs over the Manchester Metropolitan Borough. The Manchester City Council has its own Coat of Arms: "A coat of arms was granted to the Manchester Corporation in 1842, passing on to Manchester City Council when the borough of Manchester was granted the title of city in 1853"
The source was: "Frangopulo, Nicholas J. (1969). Rich inheritance: a guide to the history of Manchester. Wakefield: S.R. Publishers. p. 59. ISBN 9780854095506. p. II (note by W. H. Shercliff) Reprinted by Manchester Education Committee (1962)", quoted from this article

More images and further details: Wiki heraldry of the World (source) , Wikipedia: Manchester City Council (source) and Manchester City Arms
Esteban Rivera, 16 July 2020

Manchester City Council Logos

[Manchester City Council Logo on blue]     [Manchester City Council Logo - color on white]
located by Valentin Poposki, 16 July 2020 and Pete Loeser, 30 September 2020

There were "rumors" on the Internet that the blue logo was used as a flag at some events. I attach here the logo for information.
Valentin Poposki, 16 July 2020

The flag you send, uses the Manchester City Council logo, which is originally in black outline and lettering. The font type used is Roboto (source).
The logo can be seen used at the following websites:

Source of the blue flag logo above is Manchester City Council: Vector-logo
Esteban Rivera, 16 July 2020

Greater Manchester Police

[Flag of Greater Manchester Police] image by Herman Felani, 24 January 2009

Greater Manchester Police, a plain blue field with the police badge at the centre. The police badge featuring the widely used emergency services star, the royal cypher, the St Edward's crown, as well as the name of the service. The flag is flown at Chester House, the Greater Manchester Police headquarters.
Herman Felani, 24 January 2009

This flag is not only flown at Chester House, but is also carried by the Mounted Troop on ceremonial occasions. Furthermore, it is also displayed inside at least one police station in the Greater Manchester area, at Salford. Kath and I saw this in Salford Quays about ten years ago.
Ron Lahav, 25 January 2009

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

[Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service] image by Pete Loeser, 29 September 2020
based on this image located by Valentin Poposki, 20 June 2020

The Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service was established in 1974 as a statutory emergency fire and rescue service for the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester, England. It is part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. The Service's headquarters is located in Pendlebury, Salford, but it maintains ten local authorities in the county: Bolton, Bury, Manchester (North/South), Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. (source)
Pete Loeser, 29 September 2020

Manchester Airports Group

[Flag of Manchester Airports Group] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 13 October 2007

The Manchester Airports Group is a white flag with a large image of blue-coloured logo. Above the entity's name are placed, at left, a globe with nine arrow-like figures encircling it and almost coming together at the North Pole; at right, large initials "MAG", a growing wedge of white sweeping away part of them.
Quote from MAG website: "The Manchester Airports Group plc (MAG) is the largest UK-owned airport group and is made up of four airports - Manchester, East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth and currently handles more than 28 million passengers every year. The group also runs businesses in property development and management, baggage handling, car parking, airport security, fire-fighting, engineering, advertising and motor transport services. Manchester Airports Group plays a vital role in the success of UK aviation generating around £3.2 billion for the UK economy and supporting more than 130,000 jobs across the four airports...Manchester Airports Group is wholly owned by the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester and is proud to be publicly owned and privately managed."
Jan Mertens, 11 October 2007

Manchester Flags Using Traditional Symbols
Commercial Flags

[Manchester Bee Flag] Manchester Bee    [Manchester City FB Flag] Lancastrian Rose
images by Pete Loeser, 29 September 2020

The city's has other traditional symbols, which are also displayed on flags. "Most of these symbols are derived from heraldic emblems contained within the city's official heraldic achievement, which was officially adopted when the Borough of Manchester was granted city status in 1842" (source).
The city's traditional symbols (only the ones that are displayed on flags) are (in no particular order):

  • A ship in full sail (a symbol of trade and enterprise)
  • A Lancashire Rose (or the Red Rose of Lancaster)
  • The Worker Bee (or Manchester bee)

In the image of the Manchester City Football Club above, notice the ship on top and the rose on the bottom and the flag for the bee - a black background, with the name on top in yellow capitals and the bee in white outline)
"Manchester is part of the historic county of Lancashire, within the Salford Hundred. This is reflected in the use of the Red Rose of Lancaster in Manchester's heraldic arms. After the reform of local government in 1974, Manchester was removed from Lancashire for ceremonial and administrative purposes and brought into the new metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. After the change, both the City of Manchester and the new county retained the Lancastrian Rose in many emblems." (source)
An important showcase for the public display of these symbols in flags (which almost makes them at least common in use, if not semi-official) is the set of flags seen on London Road, above the bridge of the Manchester Piccadilly Station.

[Flags at Manchester Piccadilly Station] image located by Esteban Rivera, 23 July 2020
(cropped image from Google maps, taken on July 2019)

The flags displayed are (from left to right):

  1. Network Rail flag
  2. "Worker bee" or "Manchester bee" flag
  3. Manchester de facto flag (or more properly the banner of the arms of Greater Manchester County Council)
  4. England flag
  5. UK Flag

So in turn, there even seems to be an order of precedence for such arrangement, the reverse of the list above.
Esteban Rivera, 23 July 2020

Use of Traditional Symbols on Proposed Flags
Commercial Flags - "The Bees Have It."

[Proposed Manchester Bee Flag] Honey Bee Proposal    [Proposed by Angus Doyle] Doyle Proposal
images located by Pete Loeser, 29 September 2020

Another bee flag, with a black and yellow bee on yellow field, was also photographed at the Glastonbury Festival 2017.
Tomislav Todorovic, 23 July 2020

The Honey Bee Proposal - "The modern County Flag of Greater Manchester - the honey bee flag. The yellow background is symbolic of the bright and optimistic culture of Greater Manchester, and is reminiscent of the...metropolitan newspapers and iconic Metrolink system. The honey bee has strong associations with the region. It closely associated with the Manchester region, recalling the massive workforce which gave the world the Industrial Revolution, but also appears in the coats of arms of other Greater Manchester districts such as Salford and Bury, and was used as an emblem for the Greater Manchester Film Festival and Greater Manchester Fringe Festival." (source)
golborne-identity, 20 July 2013

The Doyle Proposal -"Last week I stumbled upon an excellent Ted Talk on the subject of city flags by the design broadcaster Roman Mars. It delves pretty deep into the theory of good flag design and Roman leaves us satisfied that Chicago's flag is indeed excellent and that San Francisco's is the proverbial dog's dinner.
City flags seem to be a lot less common in the UK than in the States and while there has been a recent "boom" in new county flag designs in this country, I feel that there is still a major representational vacuum which flags for Britain's principal cities could fill (especially as many people align their identities closer to their cities than their counties).
So I thought I'd have a go at designing a flag for Manchester. I have built the flag around the most distinctive symbol of the city - the worker bee - while keeping the essential colour scheme of its coat of arms. The triple-stripe motif [are] representing the rivers Irwell, Irk and Medlock..." (source)
Angus Doyle, 27 May 2015