Old Trafford is the site of Old Trafford football stadium, home of Manchester United F.C., and Old Trafford Cricket Ground, home of Lancashire County Cricket Club, at opposite ends of Warwick Road, renamed Brian Statham Way (formerly Warwick Road) and Sir Matt Busby Way (formerly Warwick Road North). The road between them retains the name Warwick Road, and the southern section on the other side of the Metrolink line is Warwick Road South.
Old Trafford was a crossing point over the River Irwell in ancient times. The name Old Trafford possibly derives from the time when there were two Trafford Halls, Old Trafford Hall and New Trafford Hall. The old hall was close to what is now the White City Retail Park, and was said to have been the home of the de Trafford family since 1017, until the family moved to the new hall in what is now Trafford Park, some time between 1672 and 1720. The name of the area around Old Trafford Hall may subsequently have become shortened to Old Trafford. The old hall was demolished in 1939.
In the 1820s, Manchester scientist John Dalton chose Old Trafford as the site for a Royal Horticultural and Botanical Gardens because of its clean, unpolluted air, and so began the area's association with sports and recreation. The popularity of the botanical gardens – which was a kind of northern Crystal Palace – led wealthy people to build large houses in the area. In 1857, and again in 1887, the gardens staged exhibitions of art treasures, the former as part of the Art Treasures Exhibition and the latter in celebration of Queen Victoria's silver jubilee. The Hallé Orchestra was formed to participate in the first of these exhibitions. The site of the botanical gardens was purchased by White City Limited in 1907, and it subsequently became an amusement park, although the name lives on in the street called Botanical Gardens. From the 1950s to the 1970s, White City Stadium was used as a greyhound racing track and for stock car racing. This site is now White City Retail Park. The front entrance is all that has been preserved of the old botanical gardens. Nearby, on the site of what is now the Greater Manchester Police Headquarters, was Henshaw's Institute for the Blind, which originally opened as Henshaw's Blind Asylum in 1837. Next door on the same site was the Royal Institute for the Deaf, where the film Mandy was made.
Old Trafford expanded and became an urban area after the building of the Manchester Ship Canal in the 1890s, and the subsequent development of nearby Trafford Park Industrial Estate, in the early 20th century. Trafford Park provided employment for thousands of local residents. Employment was also provided on a smaller scale, notably by the railways (Trafford Park shed alone had over 300 staff), Duerr's Jams, Vimto, Arkady Soya Mill and Ludwig Oppenheimer Mosaics. The Royal Army Medical Corps and the Territorial Army have well-established bases in the area.
Slum clearances during the 1960s and early 1970s saw some of the old Victorian housing stock demolished. However, after the perceived failure of the deck-access concrete crescents of Hulme, Old Trafford's residents preferred renovation to demolition. As a result, there are still many Victorian terraced streets in the area.