Gnome Island – Manchester, England - Atlas Obscura

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Gnome Island

Since 2017, the remains of Stretford's industrial past have been occupied by a collection of gnomes. 


Opened in 1894, the Manchester Ship Canal linked Manchester to the Irish Sea near Liverpool. After six years of work and construction, the 36-mile canal made Manchester’s docks the third-largest in the country, despite the fact the city is 40 miles inland. The canal remained in industrial use for almost 100 years until 1984 when the docks closed, as container ships and other industrial vessels became too large for the canal.

Even 30 years after its closure, the concrete “islands” that held the structures along the canal remained. It was on one such island that in 2017,  the outgrown canal welcomed a much smaller guest than its previous behemoths, a single gnome.

Gnorman, a trailblazer of sorts, arrived on the abandoned concrete island in 2017 and claimed it as his gnomestead. Joining her husband shortly after was Gnorma, at which point the dwarfish dominion was well and truly established. Within no time, the cone-hatted couple welcomed twins, Gnoah and Gnatalie, and enlisted the much-needed help of Gnorman’s parents Gnellie and Gnorbert, who still live with the happy family.

As with many family homes, the island is visited yearly by its very own gnomish Santa Claus over the Christmas period and the pintsized colony continues to grow. Gnoddy and Gneddy, a same-sex gnome couple who moved to the island in 2020 were heavily damaged during an act of vandalism.

Though Gnome Island sits on the Salford side of the canal, it is best viewed from the Trafford banks since this is the direction the gnomes face. They can be seen from the canalside, as well as from the passing water taxis.

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