In a Test which had seen Australia on top almost all the way, the hosts were under considerable pressure this morning when reduced to 37 for three while needing to bat out the day.
But the weather then intervened to see England end the day with an unassailable 2-0 series lead heading to Durham for the fourth Test on Friday.
"Many times I have cursed the rain in Manchester, but today I would take it home to meet my grandma and marry it," England spinner Graeme Swann tweeted, while former captain Michael Vaughan posted a picture of the famous urn and the caption "RAINTAINED".
If a mid-afternoon abandonment was not the most dramatic way to retain the urn, it did not dampen celebrations in the England dressing room.
"We have retained the Ashes and it feels magnificent!!!" Stuart Broad tweeted.
Kevin Pietersen, whose first-innings century was key to England avoiding defeat and moved him past Graham Gooch as England's all-time leading run-scorer in internationals, added: "Ashes retained.. Wow! What a feeling.. Outstanding by this team to do it in 3 Tests..
"And.. Thank you for being so nice during this Test! It was an incredibly proud moment when I found out about the record.. More runs to come!"
Prime Minister David Cameron joined in too.
"And to think some people criticise the British weather," he tweeted. "Congratulations to our cricketers on retaining the #Ashes."
Two former England cricketers who have each enjoyed victory over the Australians in the past, added their voices.
Sir Ian Botham, who captained England to Ashes victory in 1981, had predicted England would win this series and the one to come in Australia later this year by a combined score of 10-0, and admitted he needed to alter his maths now.
"Rain saves Aussies today at Old Trafford so will have to settle for 9 nil.... !! Ashes retained.....3 out of 3......!!" he tweeted.
Paul Collingwood, a hero of the 2005 and 2006-07 Ashes series, added: "I love days like this. Never get bored of beating the Aussies. Ashes retained #Ashes #RISE"
There was further reaction from outside the cricket family, with former England footballer Gary Lineker saying: "The Ashes retained in another great year for British sport. All so easy nowadays, but we can rely on good old football to keep us grounded."