The NOMA Project, which is transforming 20-acres on the northern fringe of Manchester city centre on behalf of the Co-operative Group, is the largest urban regeneration scheme in north-west England. The centrepiece is the iconic One Angel Square, which is presently used as the Co-operative Group’s head office and is considered to be one of the most sustainable large buildings in Europe.

OA North has been involved in the project since 2009, first by way of a desk-based assessment and evaluation, and then through several phases of excavation. Over the years, the fieldwork has revealed large areas of workers’ housing that formed part of a notorious Victorian slum known as Angel Meadow. More recently, work north of Angel Meadow has focused on an area of considerable archaeological interest – the site of Richard Arkwright’s Shudehill Mill.

The Shudehill cotton mill was built in 1780-2, and is considered to have been the first powered textile factory to be established in Manchester, utilising technology that paved the way for the application of steam power to the cotton industry. The mill had been investigated by Channel 4’s Time Team in 2005, but the excavation in 2014-15 by OA North revealed much more evidence for the development of the mill and its power systems.

OA North has worked closely with the Co-operative Group, not only to ensure that the significant archaeological remains have been dealt with appropriately, but also to encourage community involvement through open days and the participation of local schools and groups, such as the Manchester Region Industrial Archaeology Society.