Whitworth Park

Today Whitworth Park is a haven of green and relative peace and quiet beside one of the busiest roads in Manchester.  It offers a place for relaxation and reflection in the midst of the hospital and university district.  A constant stream of buses and university students pass by it all day long.

The park sits beside Oxford Road between Denmark Road and Moss Lane East.  It has changed considerably over the years.  In 1844 a house called Grove House sat beside Oxford Street (now Oxford Road) close to the location of what is now Denmark Road.

In 1889 the Whitworth Institute was established in memory of the famous engineer and manufacturer Sir Joseph Whitworth.  The goal of the institute was the "cultivation of taste and knowledge of the fine arts of painting, sculpture and architecture."  The Institute purchased Grove House and converted it into an exhibition hall.  They also purchased the adjoining "Potters Field" which became Whitworth Park.  It was turned into a "Pleasure Garden" complete with a boating lake, a band stand, and formal flower beds.  The images below show the park in the early years of the 20th Century.

The scene above is of the boating lake at the west end of the park.  You are looking east towards Oxford Road with the Exhibition Hall peaking out from the trees on the left and the spire of the Union Chapel to the right of it.  Below is the same view today.

Above and below:  The statue of 'Christ Blessing the Little Children' by George Tinworth (1904)


In 1904 the Institute handed the park over to Manchester City Council on a 1000-year lease for a nominal rent of £10 a year and today the city's Leisure Services are responsible for its upkeep. The trustees extended Grove House culminating in its present appearance in 1908.

Above you can see the round-topped window arches shown in the postcard images earlier on this page.

(The maps below are shown with the generous permission of Eric Rowland the creator of the genealogy web site - Artus Genealogy Resources.)

Below:  1930

Below: 1935

The formal nature of the park can be seen in the image below, circa 1940.  The statue among the trees is 'Christ Blessing the Little Children' by George Tinworth.

The image is shown with the generous permission of Jenny Scott from Adelaide, Australia

In 1913 a statue of King Edward VII by John Cassidy was unveiled on the eastern margin of the park facing towards Oxford Road.

In 1958 the University of Manchester took over the Whitworth Institute and their building became the Whitworth Art Gallery.  Both the gallery and the park belong to the University of Manchester.  The Manchester City Council is the lessee of the park.  Today's Whitworth Park is a pale shadow of its former self.  The lake is gone as is the statue of 'Christ Blessing the Little Children' and many of the formal garden features have disappeared.


A tour of the park in March 2010

The park's neighbour on the western boundary is the Manchester Academy.

What appears to be the foundation of a former building.  Between here and the Manchester Academy in the background the boating lake was once located.

The boating lake is long gone but these ducks appear to be waiting for it to come back.


More postcard images of Whitworth Park shown with the permission of English Heritage.