Close this search box.

Rest in peace Sir Howard Bernstein: the man who shaped modern Manchester

Sir Howard's legacy shaped Manchester as the city we know, and he will forever be a part of Manchester's history
Sir Howard Bernstein

A family notice was issued this morning to say: “With profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved Sir Howard Bernstein, 9 April 1953 – 22 June 2024

Sir Howard Bernstein was born into a Jewish family in Cheetham Hill in 1953, the older of two brothers.

He was married to Lady Vanessa Bernstein, brother to Russell, a loving father to Jonathan and Natalie, and a devoted stepfather to Danielle, Francesca, and Dominique. Sir Howard was also a proud grandfather to seven grandchildren.

Sir Howard is best known as one of the chief architects of Manchester’s resurgence over the last four decades and was Knighted for his services to Manchester in 2003.

In 1971, Sir Howard began his career at Manchester Town Hall, eventually serving as Chief Executive of Manchester City Council for 20 years until his retirement in March 2017. His deep love and passion for Manchester shaped the city we know today, and he remained committed and active in supporting the city up to his passing.

How Sir Howard Bernstein shaped modern Manchester

Sir Howard is widely recognised as the driving force behind the transformation of modern Manchester. His notable achievements include leading the reconstruction of the City Centre after the 1996 IRA bomb.

He was responsible for spearheading the 2002 Commonwealth Games and associated regeneration and development, including what is now the Etihad Campus and the wider transformation of East Manchester.

Overseeing major commercial, transport, and cultural projects such as Spinningfields, the expansion of Metrolink, the Bridgewater Hall, Home, the Manchester Conference Centre, the City Art Gallery, and the Factory, part of the St John’s development.

Bernstein also lead negotiations for the historic Devolution deal between Greater Manchester and the Government, which included health and social care.

A lifelong supporter of Manchester City FC, Sir Howard served as its Honorary President. He was also the president of Lancashire Cricket for a decade, and after retiring from public life, he became an Honorary Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester.

Sir Howard’s legacy shaped Manchester as the city we know, and he will forever be a part of Manchester’s history. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and the city he passionately served.

How Sir Howard Bernstein’s mark on Manchester City Council

The Leader of Manchester City Council has paid tribute to former chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, who has died aged 71 after a period of illness.

“Sir Howard served Manchester with remarkable distinction,” said Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig in a statement on behalf of Manchester City Council.

“He will be remembered as a driving force in the city’s turnaround from post-industrial decline to the growing, confident and forward-looking city we see today.

“He had boundless energy, strategic vision and a passion for Manchester. In 46 years at the Council, serving as chief executive between 1998 and 2017, he played an integral role in the regeneration and economic growth of the city, from the city centre’s resurgence after the 1996 IRA bomb and the 2002 Commonwealth Games and transformation of East Manchester to the creation and extension of Metrolink.

“He was also integral in the establishment of strong working relationships between the 10 Greater Manchester councils, culminating in the establishment of Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011 and a series of historic devolution agreements which transferred power and resources away from Westminster and Whitehall to our region.

“He leaves an incredible legacy in the transformation of the city.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.