This small park, next to the Shena Simon Campus of City College, was originally called Whitworth Gardens. It it bound on the north by the Rochdale Canal and Canal Street, on the west by Sackville Street and to the south by Whitworth Street. As the old postcard image below shows, the site was undeveloped when the Technical College across the way was first built.
Manchester Corporation purchased the site in 1900 and you can see in the aerial photograph below, from the mid 1940s, that they created a small city park with a pattern of pathways, lawns and flower beds.
The Council web site describes today's Sackville Gardens as, "a valuable and vibrant green resource for city-centre workers, local residents and visitors. Sackville Street Gardens has a formal ornamental garden character comprised of amenity grassland, trees, herbaceous bedding areas and structural flowerbed planting."
Two important features of the Gardens are a life size statue of Alan Turing and the Beacon of Hope memorial.- Alan Turing -
This statue of Alan Turing was unveiled on 23 June 2001 in Sackville Park close to the University of Manchester building on Whitworth Street and Canal Street at the heart of the Gay Village.
Turing was a mathematician who worked at Bletchley Park during World War II with the code breakers who deciphered German naval codes including uncovering the settings for the Enigma machine.
He is regarded as the father of modern computer science and it was at Manchester University in 1948 that he worked on the Manchester Mark 1, one of the world's earliest true computers.
Turing was gay in a time when homosexuality was regarded as a criminal offence. Despite his outstanding war record and his academic achievements he was outed as a homosexual and subsequently arrested and prosecuted. This ended his career and soon after in 1954 he was found dead by his cleaner. The statue depicts Turing holding an apple because it is thought that he committed suicide by lacing an apple with cyanide.
After his death, Turing finally received the recognition he deserved. In Manchester a road was named the Alan Turing Way and a bridge on that road called the Alan Turing Bridge. In addition to this statue the new physics building at the University of Manchester has been named the Alan Turing Building.
- The Beacon of Hope -
The Beacon of Hope is the only permanent memorial in Great Britain for people who have, or have suffered from, HIV/AIDS. The sculpture, designed by Warren Chapman and Jess Boyn-Daniel, was erected in 2000 in the form of a decorated steel column.