What would happen if there was a zombie apocalypse in Manchester?

Elena Cotton·23 June 2018·8 min read
What would happen if there was a zombie apocalypse in Manchester?

Deeply embedded in every individual is an inherent fear – someday, somehow, there will be a zombie apocalypse. Whether that be from a zombie-like disease breaking out or an alien invasion, there’s a little part in each of us that believes it’s on the horizon. So, imagine the worst case scenario – a zombie apocalypse breaks out in one of the UK’s largest cities. What would happen? How long would we survive? Where would be the best place to hide?

Using Manchester as our example city, we explored exactly what would happen if there was a zombie apocalypse in the powerhouse of the North.

Zombie Apocalypse: The basics.

Dr. Tara C. Smith, a microbiologist and infectious disease epidemiologist from Kent State University has long argued that a zombie apocalypse is increasingly likely,

“The documented rise of multiple zombie pathogens should be a wake-up call… we need additional funding and cooperation among scientists and government officials to tackle the looming threat of apocalyptic disease.”

Dr. Smith further predicted that in the event of a zombie apocalypse there would be a significant run on supplies, quarantine of cities, restrictions on travel and ongoing battles to find a vaccine.

Previous studies predicting the consequences of a zombie apocalypse have shown that large cities would have the least chance of survival. For example, if assuming humans are infected by being bitten, zombies travel only by walking and can only be killed by a blow to the head, a zombie outbreak could devastate a city like New York in just 24 hours.

If also assuming there is a 90% chance that a human will be bitten by a zombie, our chances are looking pretty dyer. On day 100 of the outbreak just 200 million people would be left in the entire world (bearing in mind the current population stands at 7.6 billion). On day 1,000 this would have fallen to 67 million survivors. While this might sound like a lot, just 88 survivors out of every 10,000 alive on day 0 would remain.

After 28 days, cities would become safer than the surrounding areas due to people moving outwards. That is, if you can survive that long. As zombies are 25% more likely to bite humans than humans are to kill them, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

So what would this mean for Manchester? Despite the city’s fighting spirit, it’s dense population and tightly packed accommodation mean that even feisty Mancunian’s might not be able to survive a zombie apocalypse.


How fast would it spread?

As it stands, Manchester’s population is around 2,713,000 for 2018. Being ranked as the 9th most densely populated city in the UK with roughly 11,439 people per square mile.

With around 530,300 people in the city centre, 85,000 of whom are students, the disease would spread at a very rapid pace. Furthermore, the number of students (living in halls or houses with multiple residents in a small space) increases to 350,000 when you drive just one hour outside of the city centre.

Transport links in Manchester see 17 million passengers a year use the airport and 14 million per year use the metro link. So, if the disease broke out while people were on these tightly compacted modes of transport, you can expect to become zombie-fied within hours.

How would our resources help to tackle an outbreak?

Manchester has 12 hospitals; 503 GP practices and works with a £6billion annual health and social care budget. Having said that, all these means of healing the sick are essentially meaningless if a cure for the zombie disease is not discovered.

Then, our best bet to fend of the blood-sucking brain-munching critters is our trusted police force. In Manchester, there are 6,938 police officers; 3,243 support staff and 685 members of the Special Constabulary covering 500 square miles. Pretty impressive. However, when you consider the fact that the zombie disease can be spread with just one bite – and there are 2,176 residents in Owen’s Park campus alone – you begin to see how around 11,000 boots on the ground might not fare so well.

Perhaps, then, the best method is to run for your life and hide? If that’s the case, you must consider where would be best to hide in such a large city.


Where is best to hide?

Manchester Cathedral:
The cathedral 19th century design and refurbishments mean that it has the advantage of thick walls and exits and entrances secured by heavy doors. Plus, if it managed to survive the Blitz and IRA bombings then it must be pretty sturdy. With five underground pathways that lead to other key locations in the city (e.g. Victoria station), the cathedral is ideal if you need to make a quick, secret getaway. Its main downside is its lack of resources, but surrounding restaurants mean that, if you dare, you can escape to get some much-needed supplies.

HM Prison
HM Prison offers the advantage of high security, 16-inch perimeter walls, plenty of food and water, beds and weapons. What’s not to love? Oh, the hundreds of dangerous criminals that reside within its walls. Are they worse than facing zombies however? That’s up to you.

Beetham Tower
Beetham tower has the height advantage. If you managed to get to the top floor you’d have a 360 view of the city and be out of reach from most. However, once you’re there, you’re stuck there. Supplies would again be an issue and Uber eats might not be so reliable amidst a zombie apocalypse.

Manchester Police Museum
The best location to hide? Probably Manchester Police Museum. With its strong walls, secure rooms, 5 genuine Victorian cells and only 4 ground floor entrances you would be pretty safe in the knowledge that no one was getting in. Surrounded by restaurants there would (initially at least) be places to source supplies. The biggest advantage with the Police Museum, however, is the fact that it is packed with a seemingly endless supply of weapons and police riot gear. Result!

Using weapons to protect yourself and getting food from the immediate surrounding area is certainly vital in the initial stages of an apocalypse, but sooner or later you’re going to have to venture further than your local Nando’s to survive long-term.

Unfortunately for Manchester, food production is a major footfall in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Food and supplies

In the UK, just 60% of food consumed is home grown. That means that if there were a major disease outbreak and all imports and exports were terminated, we would be in a bit of a sticky situation.

In Manchester specifically, the closest UK-produced food base is Yorkshire, where Rhubarb and Heather Honey are produced. After that it’s Lincolnshire, where good old British peas are grown. Good news for local farmers, bad news for apocalypse survivors.

So, if you’re stuck in the city centre you’ll either get attacked by zombies directly or get starved out. Optimistic, I know, but all is not lost.

How to get out of the city

If we’re being perfectly honest, remaining in the city centre is a bad idea. A really bad idea. Your best chances of survival are heading off to the remotest parts of the Peak district ASAP and hoping you’ll make it from there.

According to Google maps, it takes just 44 minutes to drive to the Peaks. Let’s face it though, everyone else will have had the same idea so the traffic would be hell! Plus, this would create a perfect bottleneck for zombies to strike. Public transport takes 7 hours 42 minutes on a good day, so in peak apocalypse times it’s probably best to give that a swerve. Walking would take 10 hours 34 minutes and is slow and exposed, risking your chances of infection. Cycling would take around 1 hour 34 minutes and would give you an advantage against drivers and zombies, so that’s probably your best bet.


A zombie apocalypse in Manchester would suck. You would have to be Bear Grylls XXL to survive, although this is not completely impossible. Lie low, stock up on supplies, make for the hills and you just might survive. Might.