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 all who live or work nearby.
Now that summer is here, the gardens are looking their best and, on days when it is sunny and dry, the office workers flock here with their packed lunches. But whatever the weather, I always make a point of walking through on my way from one place to another. 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 prime land and you must never turn your back on property developers!
Even if you are not one to linger 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 search the headstones you will see the memorial to William Marsden, originator of the Saturday half-day holiday. Well, it had to have started somewhere – and it turns out it was Manchester.