The name Moston may derive from the Old English words moss and ton, where moss usually referred to a place that was mossy, marshy or peat bog, and ton signified a town or settlement. The area of White Moss still retains these characteristics.
Although in 1320 Moston was called a hamlet of Manchester, in some deeds is it spoken of as lying within the township and parish of Ashton-under-Lyne. That the lords of Ashton had in early times rights in Moston also is shown by a fine of 1195, from which it appears that on a division Robert son of Bernard had Moston.
By the 14th century, Moston consisted of untamed countryside and agricultural settlements. In the 16th century the area saw the introduction of the linen treatment industry, with the washing and bleaching of the fabric boosting the economy throughout the area. Moston went on to become an integral part of the northern sector of Cottonopolis during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Moston Mill Print Works, which was on the junction of Williams Road and St Mary's Road, closed in 1848. Spring Valley Dye Works was sited in the area to the west to what is currently known as Lancaster Club. Extracting sand and clay from the local pits was another important industry alongside the brick works in Newton Heath. The area around Belgrave Road is known to local residents as the "White Stuff" or the "White Hills", in reference to the brickworks' waste that formed steep and unstable hills alongside the brook. These hills were reprofiled during landscaping works carried out in the early 1980s.