There are only a couple of scraps of green land in the city centre because, historically, Manchester was devoted to commerce: space was too precious to waste on frivolities such as grass. The City Council owns very little land itself – it inherited this patch when St. John’s Church was demolished in 1931 – so this small garden is highly valued by the office workers who bring their lunch here in fine weather.
Now that we are in the first flush of spring, the flowers are beginning to bloom but the grass is too thin and wet to sit on and the weather is not warm enough to linger long. Nevertheless, I always make a point of walking through on my way from one place to another. Maybe I’m just hopefully watching progress of the seasons while, in the back of my mind, is the fear that if we don’t use it, we might lose it: never turn your back on property developers!
Whatever the weather though, there is history here – as you might expect. The remains of 22,000 people are buried hereabouts and one of them, in particular, is famous. You may not have heard of him but if you look around you will see the headstone of one William Marsden, originator of the Saturday half-day holiday. Well, it had to have started somewhere – and it turns out it was Manchester.