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.
Each of the four seasons makes its mark on this place and, although I like to linger here when it is warm and dry, I always make a point of walking through on my way from one place to another, whatever the weather. It’s not simply that I am keen to watch the progress of the seasons: in the back of my mind, is the fear that if we don’t use it, we might lose it. This is a prime location and you must never turn your back on property developers!
Even if you are not keen on park benches, come and visit anyway, for there is history here – as you might expect in a city centre. 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.