The Campaign for City Parks in Manchester and Salford

From the time of its City Charter, certain Manchester politicians began to urge the purchase and provision of suitable open spaces where it might build parks for the working people. The main campaigner for parks had been Mark Philips, MP, (after whom in the Park in Bradford is named). It took seven years of intense campaigning before Manchester set up the Committee for Public Walks, Gardens & Playgrounds, and opened its first three public parks in 1846. Mark Philips MP; Opening of Alexandra Park 1870; Band Performance at Heaton Park,Whit Sunday 1914; Heaton Hall and Park

They were: Queen’s Park and Philips Park (in Manchester), and Peel Park (in Salford). Before this time there had been no open spaces where working people could relax or walk. Few houses, except those of the very wealthy, even had back gardens, and any parks that did exist (including Heaton Park and Wythenshawe Park) were in private ownership and not accessible to the general public.

The first public park to be officially opened on the designated day, was Peel Park in Salford, and was marked by the attendance of the Mayor and Aldermen. There were formal opening ceremonies heralded by trumpets and cannon fire.They had been purchased by private subscriptions by rich and poor alike and were to be the “clean lungs of the working city of Manchester”. Later that same day, Queens Park was officially opened to slightly less ceremonial, and finally, Philips Park which was opened by Councillor Entwistle, MP.
These were only the first of many. Many other parks followed, and other acquisitions were made well into the twentieth century, with Wythenshawe Park, Heaton Park and Platt Fields in Rusholme being purchased by the city in the early 20th century.
In 1856 John Shaw was appointed as first Inspector of Public Parks for the City of Manchester, having already distinguished himself with his designs for Stamford park in Altrincham. Heavily industrialised though Manchester was, it took its civic duties very seriously, and by the early 20th century it boasted more public parks than any other English city outside London. What follows is a description of most of them

Manchester & Salford Parks

Alphabetically Listed:

Philips Park, Manchester

The three first parks of 1846 were created by Joshua Major with a specific aim in mind – to cope with the “…promenading of large numbers of persons”. On holidays these parks were flooded with many thousands of people, it being a convenient, close and cheap day out for working families. At other times, park keepers reported as few as 20 visitors a day, and mostly the unemployed at that. Park keepers were initially not keen on thousands of visitors tramping over their lawns, the Head Keeper at Philips describing them as “low elements”, and in 1859 sixty cast iron “Keep off the Grass” signs were purchased – keepers were issued with caps, badges and whistles, and enforced the rule strictly. People were regularly arrested and sentenced to one day in prison for picking flowers or walking on seed beds.
The 31 acres of Philips Park had been purchased from Lady Houghton for the sum of £6,300 and was/is located to the east of the present A6010 near Miles Platting. It had winding pathways and extensive water features, which were periodically prone to flooding. However, there were other activities apart from walking on offer – the Park offered a variety of recreation activities and sporting opportunities, including skittles, quoits, archery, cricket, shuttlecocks (now called badminton), “giant strides” (a sort of enormous maypole which spun round quickly and was intended to exhaust children quickly – it was a great success!) and swings. Children’s play areas, called “gymnasia”, were provided, with seesaws swings and skipping areas on offer. The Park offered several sports pitches and fields, including space for hockey, football and tennis (introduced in 1868), bowls (introduced in 1871), and cricket.
The flower beds were probably laid down by Major, and it became famed locally for “Tulip Sunday”, usually the first or second Sunday in April, when some 50,000 tulips could be seen in bloom. Philips was one of the first parks in Manchester to get a bowling green (in 1871), followed by tennis courts, with further improved facilities right up to the 1900s. In 1920, the ornamental ponds were concreted over and converted into boating and paddling pools.

There is a second Philips Park, in Whitefield, north of Manchester and now in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury – previously known as “The Park”, this land was purchased by Robert Philips the son of Nathaniel Philips (cofounder of J & N Philips & Co.) of Stand Hall. Robert passed the estate on to his son Robert Needham Philips (who was younger brother to Mark) who in turn bequeathed it to his youngest daughter, Anna Maria Philips who occupied “The Park” (120 acres) until her death in 1946 when it was purchased by the Local Authority.
It is now known as ‘Philips Park’, but actually is the second one, and should not be confused with the former Philips Park. Sadly the house which once stood there was subsequently demolished, but the stable yard buildings survive still as a Night Club – some feel it might have been kinder to demolish the lot.

We are indebted to Mr P Phillips, (no relation) for providing information and assistance in creating the above entry.

Chorlton Park, Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Before the 19th Century, Chorlton belonged to the Manor of Withington, and, as the suburbs spread in the 18th Century in response to rapid population growth in the area, it was decided after a great deal of public pressure, to create a public park on the western side of the district. An area bordering Chorlton Brook, Nell Lane and Barlow Moor Road was chosen as a suitable site – it had been farmland previously owned by the Egerton family of Tatton Park.
But, constant prevarication followed and it was not until 1926 that the site was actually purchased. The park was laid out and opened to the public on May 5th 1928 and has changed very little since those days. Bounded by shrubberies and flower borders it became a major local attraction for working people with bowls, tennis, putting and the children’s play areas.

Present day facilities include a Park Office and Visitors Centre, Community Meeting Rooms, a Bowls Pavilion, an enclosed Bowling Green, various Children’s Playgrounds, a One Basketball Court, a Multisports Area, Two 5 a-side Football Areas, Manchester hotels, Four Tennis Courts, Four Junior Pitches, Children’s Nursery, Mobile Security Patrols, a Small Car Park with spaces for disabled people, Accessible Toilet, Skills Wall and a Rose Garden. Chorlton Park was Green Flag Award Winner in 2003.

Chorlton Water Park Local Nature Reserve

Chorlton Water Park is the only Local Nature Reserve which covers 16 hectares including woodlands, wildflower meadows and a lake. Developed from a gravel pit, the site attracts thousands of visitors each year, catering for activities including angling, ornithology, sailing and orienteering.
It is an ideal habitat to attract a diverse range of wildlife including native crayfish, the Siberian pochard, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Funding from a Wild Space Grant, administered by English Nature, has been used to improve habitats for amphibians and reptiles, as well as to increase opportunities for education within the park. The warden service is continually improving the facilities of the park for the benefit of both people and wildlife, and ongoing new projects are scheduled for the following years.

Alexander Park, Whalley Range

Alexandra Park, opened in 1868 in Whalley Range, a park measuring 60 acres, had been purchased by the Corporation in 1868 and opened to the public in 1870. It had been designed with a raised terrace lined with a half mile long avenue of lime trees and was specifically intended for people to stroll along – this avenue still survives today. The Park was intended to promote a simple morale purpose – to keep families together in shared recreation. The reality, however, was probably more mundane – to dissuade men from spending their day of rest in alehouses. Despite this model to family unity, boys and girls were given separate play areas (for decency’s sake). The competition to design the park had been awarded to Alexander Hennel, and was the first to incorporate ornamental features and sports facilities.
Several more extreme religious groups, notably the so-called Sabbatarians, tried to have these parks closed on Sundays, but their growing popularity soon put paid to that idea. While some saw parks as a valuable resource, others saw them as a threat to tradition Sunday School attendance – many were closed therefore during hours of Sunday worship.
In 1844 the Borough Police Act, drafted in fear of what so many unregulated people in once place could do, recommended all parks be built 5 miles outside the city boundaries to keep “trouble out of town”. There was clearly some worry about the possibility of unauthorised public meetings. Use of carriages, and later of any motorised vehicles was prohibited in parks (and still is).
Eventually, live brass band performances became popular entertainments within the parks.
By the 1890s, Alexandra Park was the showpiece of the City; it was pioneering in the range of facilities it offered, and was thought to be the best designed and laid out. Hennell had also designed the Superintendent’s Lodge off Claremont Road, which was demolished in the 1970s. The bowling greens date back to before the second world war and are still there, but disused. The 1905 built hothouses near Princess Road were financed and built specifically to house the botanical collection of Charles Darrah of Heaton Mersey, which it acquired as a gift in 1904.

Queens Park, Harpurhey

This is a park of 27 acres which was acquired by public gift in 1846. Designed and laid out by Joshua Major in 1845. The original Hendham Hall, home to the Hoghton family, was built in 1800, demolished around 1880 and the museum and art gallery erected on the same site in 1884 was designed by J Allison (now part of Manchester City Art Galleries).
When Major laid out plans for the new Queens Park, he incorporated as much of the original line and timbering of the original Hendham Hall, largely because of severe financial restrictions on the project, and made as much as he could of pathways and walkways, as well as developing an existing water feature with rustic bridge and ponds. Large wide sweeping pathways (which could carry horse and carriage) circled round extensive play areas and games pitches. This rather frugal design was much criticised by contemporary architects, who thought it to geometric. In the 1850s and 1860s many alterations were made to the original concept. First, a labyrinth designed by Dwerryhouse, head gardener at Tatton Park was introduced in 1852 (it closed in 1861).
Next, propagating sheds and greenhouses, designed by John Shaw were added in 1853 (demolished in 1930). Shaw went on to add more ponds, streams, as well as a large fountain in 1865. Large flower gardens were planted, including a rosarium on the north side. In 1909 a bowling green was added as well as tennis courts.

Cringle Fields, Burnage

Errwood Road, Burnage. Tel: 0161 223 8278. Park with adjacent Cringle Fields Beehive Club Day Nursery and frequent venue for Gaelic Football Games, periodic funfairs and firework displays. The Fields are an open space which lies on the municipal boundary between the City of Manchester and the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport. The field is used for football practice, jogging and by local residents for walking their dogs. Cringle Fields is also host to the annual Manchester Irish Festival, a family orientated weekend of Irish music, dance and fun fair rides in Levenshulme Village has been put on jointly by Manchester City Council Parks Department. (Levenshulme is believed to be home to the biggest Irish community outside London).

Platt Fields Park, Rusholme

The Park measures some 90 acres. Fear of encroaching domestic housing prompted the final purchase of Platt Fields from Mr Carill Worsley in 1908. He had been a member of the Manchester Botanical & Horticultural Society. The original Park with its Hall had been commissioned by John Lees of Platt in 1762 when Timothy Lightoler had remodelled the house, and a few years later , in 1768, William Emes (1729-1803) had been employed to design and landscape the surrounding parkland.
Later, further developments had been made to the park by William Pontey, who had laid out several formal lawns and paths as well as specimen trees and shrubs.
A large boating lake was constructed here in 1908-09 at the initiation of the Corporation, which was immediately popular, and was still operative until recent times. Tennis courts and playing fields were also created in the 20th century, and the park has become a popular venue for shows, notably the Agricultural and flower shows. See also Platt Hall Gallery of Costume.

Heaton Park, Prestwich

This is Manchester’s largest park, measuring some 650 acres. It was laid out by William Emes (who had also laid out Platt Fields – above), and John Webb between 1770-73. The Hall had been designed by James Wyatt around 1772, with later work by Lewis Wyatt around 1823. It was purchased by the Corporation from Lord Wilton in 1902. One of several local lands belonging to the Egertons, it was situated about 4 miles north of Manchester on a hill top plateau surrounded by pleasant woodlands.
One of the best known events to be held here were the popular Heaton Park Races (which transferred to Aintree in around 1827). The general public had been able to attend the races on payment of a small fee at the gate. After its purchase, some levelling was carried out and a golf course constructed in 1908-09. Regular band performances took place in the park on summer weekends, and they became so popular that fixed seating proved wholly inadequate and a system of deck chair hire was introduced at a charge of one penny a day.
After 1909 several bowling greens were created, and a miniature railway, (later a tramway), was constructed to take visitors up from Middleton Road to the main house. Roads were widened and a Refreshment Room introduced in the west wing of the house.
In 1913 the boating lake was constructed and is still operative today. The original entrance facade from the Old Manchester Town Hall was transported and re-erected beside the lake. See Main Entry: Heaton Park .

Wythenshawe Park, South Manchester

Gifted to the City of Manchester in 1926 by Lord Ernest Simon and his wife Lady Shena Simon. This 250 acre parkland was intended for the recreational use of people living on the newly built Wythenshawe Housing Estate nearby. The park had been laid out between 1800-1820, with a conservatory being built by John Shaw in around 1860.
The original Tudor house, Wythenshawe Hall, had been remodelled by Lewis Wyatt in 1795-1800, and later by Edward Blore around 1840. The present day formal gardens date from the 1850s, and look much as they might have done in 1641 when the oldest known estate plans were drawn up. Only the more recent addition of Oliver Cromwell’s statue is new, having been moved here from outside of Manchester Cathedral in 1967.
Shaw had planted the park with shrubberies, hollies, azaleas and rhododendrons, as well as many exotic specimen trees such as turkey oak and Bhutan pine. In the 1930s, bowling greens, tennis courts and playing fields had been created in the western parkland, which had hitherto been arable land. It remains a major leisure facility for the whole of south Manchester. See also Main Entry:Wythenshawe Hall .

Fletcher Moss & Parsonage Gardens, Didsbury

Fletcher Moss Gardens were given to the corporation by Alderman Fletcher Moss in 1914. They cover some 10 acres, and the gift also included the house, (the Old Parsonage), but the rock garden and the Croft nearby. The gardens are rich in exotic varieties of tree and shrubs, all of which Fletcher Moss recorded with dates and measurements. Plants include, fuschias, japonica, polyanthus, carnations and wallflowers, mostly planted in 1889. There are also many climbing plants including honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, cotoneaster, wisteria and passion flower. Trees include the several palms which border the house. The original garden included lime and and weeping ash which had been planted in the 1830s. Fletcher Moss favoured so-called ‘old fashioned’ cottage garden flowers like marigold, lilies, gold borage and rue. Two hot houses were erected in the 1940s for the cultivation of orchids. The Croft was developed and enlarged throughout the 1950s and 1960s, with poplars removed to create a rock garden. Subsequently, alpine and wild flower gardens have been created. See also: Fletcher Moss Art Gallery . >

Marie Louise Gardens, West Didsbury

Acquired as a gift to the city by Mrs Silkenstadt in 1904. This relatively small garden is of 4¾ acres and was part of the gardens of her home. It was donated in memory of her daughter Marie Louise who died young and is a simple shape with crossing pathways, edged with neatly clipped topiary bushes and shaded by horse chestnuts – a secluded and peaceful place set aside from the busy world outside. There are many interesting botanical specimens including a maidenhair tree. The gardens are maintained by the Corporation. >

Broughton Park, Salford

More properly named the ‘Manchester Zoological Gardens, Broughton’, this park no longer exists, but is now a residential housing estate on the borders of Manchester City boundary. The original park was some 15 acres in size and was designed and laid out by Richard Forrest around 1837. The Grand Menagerie and other now extinct buildings were by William Hayley and Thomas Brown.
The Zoological Gardens were very short lived, having opened to the public in 1838, it closed in 1842. The gardens were designed with high serpentine shrubs so that the visitor was continually met with new vistas and surprises. The zoo contained an astonishing array of animals, including aviaries for eagles and rockeries for armadillos and porcupines. Elsewhere were polar bear enclosures, buffalo, emu, camels, ostriches and kangaroos. There was a large lake with islands and rustic bridges.
However, the city clearly could not support 2 large zoos, and when Broughton Park closed down, many of the animals went to the other (better known) zoo at Belle Vue – that too, now sadly gone.

Boggart Hole Clough, Blackley

Located on Rochdale Road in Blackley, Boggart Hole Clough was purchased by the City Council in 1890 after long campaigning and many petitions. The site has an extensive 190 acres of green land. The Clough had long been recognised as a local beauty spot, and was eventually purchased to prevent the building of domestic housing on its lands.
Boggart Hole Clough is an ancient historical site and combines a number of picturesque cloughs varying from steep ravines to gentle sloping gullies. The ‘Boggart Hole’ connection refers to the old belief that a ghost (or ‘boggart’ haunted the area.
The park is an attractive haven for relaxation but also boasts a number of activities, from boating to athletics, and is well worth a visit. The park stages a number of cross-country events, mountain bike rides, summer ‘fun days’ and an annual bonfire and firework display.
The park was recently restored by members of Festival Manchester, including painting knee rails, litter picking in the dells and around the lake. Many flowering bulbs have also been planted around the public car park on Charlestown Road. In 2003, Boggart Hole Clough attained the Green Flag Award for the third time. It has access for disabled people and its facilities include a bowling green, tennis courts, basketball courts, play area, multi-court, fishing, an orienteering course, a boating lake, a kickabout area and a recently refurbished athletics track.

Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Gorton

Belle Vue has always been a commercial enterprise. Built in 1836, this 36 acre park was expanded to 80 acres during its heyday in 1904. Belle Vue House had been built in 1828 and gardens created in 1833. These in turn were extended and enlarged from 1836 onwards. Its animals were finally sold off in the 1970s, and Belle Vue ceased as a zoo, continuing, as it has with its more profitable speedway, leisure complex and exhibition hall facilities.
By the end of the 19th century, Belle Vue was a major attraction. The original house and land had been owned by John Jennison, who seems to have made a fortune running local tea houses. He constantly extended the facilities, adding in successive years, an Italian Garden, lakes, refreshment houses, mazes and hot houses, and finally the zoological gardens.
In 1847 he had built a racecourse, followed by elephant houses, lions and monkey houses and a polar bear pit. The design of buildings was dominated by Thomas Danson, whose architecture was ‘exotic’ to say the least, having an Asiatic Kiosk, an Indian Mosque, and rustic grottoes. The Danson family continued to create annual architectural ‘panoramas’ until 1939, which included fireworks displays, and subjects for set pieces including the Siege of Khartoum, the Relief of Ladysmith and a Venice Carnival. These were immense crowd pullers, and Belle Vue at its height became a favourite and popular day out for Manchester families.
From the 1920s a speedway track was constructed by Danson, as well as a cricket and archery ground. In 19030 a circus was introduced. By the 1930s brass band competitions were held there. By the mid-1960s its fortunes had begun to decline and in 1964 the boating lake was drained and just a small residual decorative pool was left.

Ladybarn Park

With an area of 29 acres located on Mauldeth Road, Ladybarn Park is one of Manchester’s more modern parks, noted for its excellent flat green playing fields. Well laid out lawns and shrubberies occupy one side of the park while the other has bowling greens and play facilities. There is also a garden with well-maintained lawns and flower beds. One of the park’s most distinctive features is its tall row of Lombardi Poplars which are something of a local landmark
Park facilities include a children’s play area for juniors and under-fives, a multi-sports court, a tennis court, two bowling greens with veteran’s pavilion, and a youth centre.

Peel Park, Salford

Adjacent to the University of Salford and located on The Crescent, Peel Park, opened on the 22nd August 1846, is possibly the world’s first Public Park. Of the early parks in Manchester, only Peel Park was built on a virgin site, and had avoided residential development on account of the periodic flooding of the adjacent River Irwell. Designers were chosen by open competition, and Peel was laid out by Joshua Major, a Leeds man who also won the competition to design Philips and Queens Parks. Adjacent to the once notorious slums of the Victorian era the park has evolved and now caters for both local visitors and students studying at the University of Salford. Its contemporary facilities include football pitches, changing rooms, flower beds, a well-equipped play area for 4-14 year olds, the Marie Curie Field of Hope, part of the Irwell Valley sculpture trail, the flood obelisk, as well as nearby Salford Museum & Art Gallery.

Birchfields Park, Rusholme

Birchfields Park was purchased by the Corporation in 1887, acquired for use as a public park for the sum of £9,930 from Sir William Anson, a local landowner, whose name is commemorated in the nearby Anson Housing Estate and the arterial Anson Road that runs through the district. Recreational facilities were then in great demand, and the park was designed with numerous tennis courts and football pitches. The park’s purchase was conditional upon Rusholme being incorporated into the City of Manchester in 1885.
Located with its main entrance on the corner of Birchfield Road and Dickenson Road, Birchfields Park has been recently transformed with an investment of £160,000 to create a new children’s play area, new sports area, a skateboarding facility, new bins and benches as well as shrub clearance and tidying up the entrances and parkway.
On the one side of the park are playing fields, play facilities and nature trail, on the other side there is the stone garden and a natural habitat, which was originally one of Manchester’s first circular bowling greens. The rose garden is being redeveloped by the Birchfields Green Action group into a forest garden.
An important feature of the park is the lime tree avenue by the side of Gore Brook, which makes a delightful walk when in flower, distinguished by the heady scent of the green-yellow lime tree blossom. A prominent fixture in the park, and somewhat of a local mystery, is the huge boulder (weighing in at 13 tons), which was uncovered during excavations by a building contractor on the local estate and was presented to the park as an object of curiosity.
Facilities include Gore Brook, the Stone Garden Sculpture, a nature trail, a play areas for Junior and under-fives, Multisports court, skateboard area, basketball posts, a teen shelter and a community events site. The park is secured by regular mobile security patrols.

Albert Park, Salford

Located on Grecian Street in the M7 district of Salford, this is a small park with the following facilities: a bowling green with veterans’ pavilion, a football pitch, an artificial sports pitch (managed by Education and Leisure), car parking, and a well-equipped play area for 4-14 year olds.

Debdale Park, Gorton

This park was purchased in 1912 and was designed with several tennis courts and football pitches. Debdale Park is located on Hyde Road in Gorton, about three miles from Manchester city centre and offers a haven in a busy urban area. The Park is set in 130 acres and offers extensive sport and leisure activities.
Th e park also hosts an annual Bonfire and Fireworks Display, a family carol service, family Easter egg hunt and a Halloween Fun Event, as well as regular 3.5km fun runs and sports competitions. It also stages ‘Off The Street Soccer’ sessions during the summer season. The dedicated Wardens Service offers a wide range of educational and environmental activities for children.
Park facilities include tennis courts, bowling greens , basketball court, football pitches and 5-a-side grass pitch, a skateboarding ramp, a 9 hole pitch and putt golf area, and a children’s play area. An orienteering course is available and there is a conservation pond area.
Debdale Park was a Green Flag Award winner in 2003.
There is adequate access for disabled people and car parking available on site. Debdale Park is easily accessible by bus from Manchester City Centre.

Blackfriars Park, Salford

Located on Mount Street, Salford M3, this is one of Salford’s smaller parks containing a playing field and several rose and shrub beds. It is reasonably well equipped with seating areas, and is popular with local residents.

Clowes Park, Salford

Situated on New Hall Road, Salford M7, Clowes Park is a small but very attractive public park, dominated by a central lake with a circular footpath, viewing points and an attractive boat house. It is located in a fairly affluent area of the city, surrounded by residential housing, which also forms the park boundary. To the north of the lake is a large play area, a small area of woodland and a walled garden. Areas of seasonal bedding displays, rose beds, shrubs, herbaceous borders and rare trees are of particular interest.
Park activities available include walking, sitting, fishing, football and children’s play. Its facilities also include toilets, flower beds, a lake, fishing and a well-equipped play area for 4-14 year olds. The park is closed at night.

Mandley Park, Salford

Located on Leicester Road, Salford M7, Mandley Park is one of Salford’s smaller parks. However, it does boast extensive wide-open grassy areas for informal recreation, popular by local people for informal games of football and walking the dog. There is also a rugby pitch and an equipped play area for 4-14 year olds. This park is also closed at night.

Ardwick Green

Purchased by the Corporation in 1868. Located in Ardwick Green South on Hyde Road, a small 4 acre site with a playground and gardens, with access for disabled people.
Ardwick Green was the first public open space in Manchester and houses the First World War Memorial commemorating those who died at Gallipoli.
Easily accessible by bus from the city centre. For more information, telephone: 0161-224 2902 or Fax: 0161-224 2861.

Broadhurst Park, New Moston

Located on St Mary’s Road in New Moston, Broadhurst Park is a 57 acre site which offers a range of leisure activities for all age groups. The park stages summer funfairs, an annual bonfire & firework display and summer sports activities for children. Broadhurst Park is part of the Irk Valley.
Recent investment has led to roller shutters being installed on the doors and windows of the Veterans Pavilion and the footpath surrounding the greens being newly tarmacked. The park is accessible by bus from Manchester city centre.
Its facilities include a football pitch, bowling green with bowls pavilion, tennis courts, basketball courts, a Multisports court, a kickabout area and the Beehive Club. The park is accessible for disabled people.

Sunnybrow Park, Gorton

Located at Haworth Road and Knutsford Road in Gorton M18 7EN, Sunnybrow Park celebrated it’s centenary in April 2005 and local residents, volunteers, park wardens and environmental services all turned out to clean up the park and surrounding area before the celebrations. Sunnybrow Community Garden, once an underused piece of open space located behind a residential area in Gorton, had become overgrown and vandalised. After a series of planning days and public consultations, local residents decided to turn this area into a community garden, which would provide a safe and attractive area for all members of the local community. A major part of the scheme was to close off rear alleyways by the erection of gates to alleviate the problem of burglaries and vandalism. Other physical improvements included a safe garden area, a pergola for shade, a ball wall and a play area for local children. The community are now involved in training sessions for running committees, fund-raising and maintenance issues and the creation of a resident’s association.

Whitworth Park

Located on Oxford Road, next to the Whitworth Art Gallery and opposite the Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital, this is a relatively small park of some 18 acres. It was presented to the City Council by the Whitworth Trustees in 1905. This is the closest of the larger parks to the City Centre. A popular park, particularly at lunchtimes, when local workers from the hospital and nearby Rusholme seek the solace of a green field in the middle of an otherwise bustling metropolis. It has facilities for five-a-side floodlit football and has a children’s playground. There is access for disabled people and it is well served by regular buses down Oxford Road from the city centre.

Clayton Park

Located on Ashton New Road, Clayton Park is one of the city’s smallest parks, and is managed by officers from Debdale Park. On the site of Clayton Hall, which dates back to the 12th century, the present park is situated on what remains of the vast estate of the De Clayton family. It is reputed that during the Civil Wars the Royalist army was stationed at Clayton Hall before its attack on Manchester, and Oliver Cromwell himself is said to have stayed there. The Hall is said to be haunted by three ghosts.
The Park offers extensive leisure facilities, and has a thriving and popular bowling green with a Veteran’s Pavilion. It also has a children’s play area and good access for disabled people.

Brookdale Park

Located on Droylsden Road, Newton Heath and managed from the Boggart Hole Clough parks team. This 44 acre site has facilities which include bowls, a veterans’ pavilion, play area, several football pitches, a Beehive Club and a woodland area. There is access for disabled people.
Brookdale park was bought by Manchester City Council in 1904 for use as a public park. The park is well known locally for variety of its bird population, and several less common species are to be found there. The original Victorian bandstand still exists today, though sadly, bands are few and far between.
In 2003, new investment saw the demolition of the old changing rooms and new planted garden beds where they once stood. The local community are currently bidding for a new Multisports area for teenagers.

Crowcroft park

Opened in 1900, Crowcroft Park was one of the early Victorian parks of Manchester with well laid out flower beds, a bandstand, floral borders and several cricket and football pitches. It is located on the main A6 Stockport Road in the Longsight/Levenshulme area, about three miles south of Manchester city centre. The Park was originally built for the recreation of young people, and as a reaction against the encroaching spread of residential housing as the city grew in size.. More recently with the addition of new facilities the Park offers something for all the family. The Park has a strong and active Friends of Crowcroft Park Group who support community events and actively campaign for improvements in the Park. Park facilities include two Multisports areas (one floodlit), a basketball training court, roller skating and skateboard ramps, a children’s play area, crown green bowling, veteran’s pavilion with community meeting room, two ‘teen shelters’, public toilets with disabled access, a visitors centre and a mobile cricket pitch (bookable in advance).
In 2000, young people from the neighbourhood who helped raise money for the games area in Crowcroft Park were awarded the Philip Lawrence Prize for outstanding achievement by young people.

Gorton Park

Located on Hyde Road in Gorton, this park along with nearby Debdale Park, serves a large proportion of East Manchester residents. Gorton Park Community Play Centre is a major Day Nursery in the district. A Friends of Gorton Park Group exists, but little is known by this author.

We would like to obtain more information about this park – if you have any, please email

Manley Park, Whalley Range

Not so much a park nowadays – more a play area. Located in Whalley Range adjacent to Park Drive, this small grassed play area, with a simple football pitch, and referred to locally as “The Rec”, is an important play area for local children. Flanked by an avenue of tall trees, bordered by a row of small shops. In October 1882 Manchester Golf Club’s eight founder members played their first round of golf over a small nine-hole course of some 1856 yards at Manley Park. A sum of £25,000 has recently been acquired through the work of the Friends of Manley Park for its refurbishment, and the creation of new kickabout area for children.
Manley Park was built as a magnificent estate in the 1860s for Samuel Mendel, one of Manchester’s foremost cotton traders. Originally, when its superb park and pleasure gardens were open to the public they consisted of over 80 acres with ornamental lakes and reputedly the country’s finest orchid collection.
After Samuel Mendel lost his fortune, the park was sold off piecemeal for development and his fine house was abandoned and eventually demolished. In its heyday it was regarded as one of the most magnificent in the north of England.
We are indebted to Neil Roland for supplying much of the information about Manley Park.

Cheetham Park

Cheetham Park lies within the Cheetham Hill district of Manchester M8, bordering on the A6010 Elizabeth Steet. Once a fashionable and affluent Victorian suburb, the area is now surrounded on three sides by local industry. Despite its somewhat rundown condition, the result of long neglect, there have been substantial efforts to refurbish and resurrect it in recent times. At its north end is a playground and basketball courts. There are two bandstands which once held sway to regular and popular Sunday afternoon concerts.
Following consultation with the local community, new multi-sport ends have been installed in the park. Further consultation will take place with the local community before any future developments are undertaken. Manchester Leisure want to set up a Friends of Cheetham Park Group. Recently, the Salvation Army set up the Cheetham Hill Project, and Task Force volunteers cleaned up the park, weeding (even pulling up small trees that were not supposed to be there!), repainting the bandstands, goalposts and railings and litter-picking.

Crumpsall Park

Crumpsall Park is located on Ash Tree Road in Crumpsall in a densely populated area and is a focal point for the community on land that was once earmarked as a cemetery, before the idea was abandoned in favour of parkland. Originally part of the area known as the Forest of Blackley, which encompassed the River Irk in the days of pre-industrial Manchester, it is managed by staff from Boggart Hole Clough (see above). This is one of Manchester’s older parks, opened in the1890s and was one of the first to provide open space for leisure and sport. It has childrens’ play roundabouts, and a basketball court where the children can play football. The Park hosts two distinctive landmarks – the famous Obelisk Monument, which was originally situated in Market Street in Manchester City Centre, and an impressive Park Keeper’s Lodge, which was built with the Park in 1890. The Lodge now houses a toddlers’ child care facility.
The site measures around 4.45 hectare (11 acres) and is a multi-leisure activity site. It holds regular community summertime Fundays, cycle races and sport activities for children. As an example, during Easter 2005, organised activities included circus skills, mask-making, donkey rides, bird-box making, Easter egg hunting and other outdoor activities.
The Friends of Crumpsall Park, based in the Park Building, help in the organisation of events. Recent investment has resulted in a newly planted wildflower area, and in conjunction with the Friends, Manchester City Council have made significant efforts to return the Park to its former Victorian glory – this year it achieved a Green Flag Award.

Fog Lane Park

This 48 Acre Park (19.43 Hectares) located on Fog Lane in Didsbury, Manchester 20, was purchased by the town planning committee in 1926, one of the first public parks in Manchester. The Park reputedly got its name from a species of grass, commonly known as Yorkshire Fog, which still grows throughout the park. The original design for the park planned for 14 football pitches, hockey pitches, 24 tennis courts, and two bowling greens. It also once included a sunken bandstand which was replaced by the Rose Garden. Its numerous flower beds and borders include 36 different varieties of Rhododendrons around the rose garden perimeter.
About one-third of an acre of the park is reserved for the growth of wild flowers, which attract innumerable insect species which include butterflies and dragonflies. Their presence almost certainly accounts for the wide variety of birds which nest in the park (these include mallards, moorhens, Canada geese, kestrels, wood pigeons, coots and an occasional heron).
The park has an extnsive range of trees and shrubs, including Dawn Redwood, Silver Birch, Laburnums and Flowing Crabs as well as many old mature trees like Hornbeam, Alder, Poplar, Norway Maple and Indian Bean. Currently, Park f acilities include a park office and visitors centre, a pond area, six full size football pitches and one junior pitch, two bowling greens with a veteran’s pavilion, seven tennis courts, one basketball court, as ‘kickabout’ area, changing rooms with showers and toilet facilities, children’s playground for junior and under-fives and an on-site car park. There is a regular mobile security patrol in operation.
The Friends of Fog Lane Park, a voluntary group of civic spirited local citizens, formed to restore the park to its full former glory and secure its future as an attractive and social community facility by the creation of a high quality, flexible, secure and attractive venue for a wide range of events. These could include exhibitions, meetings, workshops, parties, talks, entertainments, concerts etc, with low running costs, so that the park could become self-financing and sustainable.