Piccadilly Gardens

To step into Piccadilly is to step into controversy. For the indoor shoppers who live in the Arndale or the Trafford Centre, Piccadilly probably is of little importance but it has been a focal point in the city for generations. It has changed a great deal in that time. At one time a the huge Manchester Infirmary and Mental Hospital occupied the site.  In front of the Infirmary was a wide promenade with a number of important statues.

The post card below shows Piccadilly at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The card had clearly never been posted but on the back are some comments that the purchaser made about Piccadilly.


After the hospital was demolished, the proposal was to replace it with a new art gallery.  A model of this new building is shown below.

In the end the plan for the gallery was dropped and instead a sunken garden was created.

Below are a number of images of the Piccadilly Gardens showing how it changed over the years.


During WWII the buildings around the gardens suffered significant bomb damage.  Below is a collection of images showing the damage and the aftermath.

The images below, shown with the permission of Greater Manchester Police Museum and Archive,
If you click on this link you can see more historic images from their
Flickr Photostream

The rectangular blocks arranged around the garden were air-raid shelters.

Notice the reservoirs of water stored presumably by the fire brigade as a convenient source of water for the next fire.

Below I have combined them into a panorama.


In the 60s things really changed when the Piccadilly Plaza buildings were added. But it was decades later, when an office building was built on the Portland Street end and the garden was removed that caused consternation. Even this might have been acceptable had they not built the charmless concrete wall that divides the new "Gardens" from the busy bus and tram interchange. There seem to be few people who like the new Piccadilly and many who regard it as an eyesore!

The redevelopment of the gardens was paid for by the erection of the office building. This building was justified not only because it raised the funds needed but because it cut traffic noise from the gardens. The design of the new gardens was drawn up by the renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. People can make their own minds up as to whether it was an improvement. I know I've made up mine.  In 2014 the city is asking people for suggestions on how the wall can be improved.  I suspect I know what most people will say.