Sackville Gardens

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."

Three important features of the Gardens are a life size statue of Alan Turing, the Beacon of Hope memorial and the Transgender 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.

- The Transgender Memorial -

At the Canal Street end of the park is the Transgender Memorial.  The explains that, "... The sculptor-carver of the memorial was Shane Green, an established tree carver with several decades of experience, and whose major work to date was a series of 26 tree carvings of athletes made over a 26-day period at the London 2012 Olympic Games. .....

 .... The main decorative element in the sculpture is the butterfly. Several butterflies are carved and represent the change from one state of existence to another – from caterpillar to butterfly, from one gender to another.   The rest of the memorial space was created by Tony Cooper, Angela Moonchild, Dawn Pomfret, Darren Knight, Linda Leaa Sardi, Jennifer Johansson, Jenny-Anne Bishop, Karen Richards and Astrid Walker, many of them members of the local trans community and Friends of Sackville Gardens."

On the 20th of March 2014, the following article appeared on

The Transgender memorial, which was the first of its kind in the UK, was erected in August last year and funded by community group The Friends of Sackville Gardens.

However, it was vandalised just days after being put up, which caused considerable tension in the area.
Wanting to help, officers from the City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) managed to secure some POCA funding which paid for most of the repairs.

Tony Cooper, Chair of The Friends of Sackville Gardens, said: “We worked closely with the Trans community to create a lasting memorial to those who have died because of prejudice and hate, and to then see that memorial vandalised within days was a true reflection of what many Trans people have to go through in daily life.
“GMP attended very quickly and we all tried hard to find the culprits, but to no avail. We are therefore grateful for the police donation to restore the damaged plaques, so that the memorial can look its best for ‘Sparkle’, the national transgender weekend in July.”
As well as the memorial being vandalised, Sackville Gardens has been a hotspot for robberies and assaults over the years due to it not being lit at night.
PC David Willetts of the City Centre NPT said: “This has been a major issue for the community for a long time, and so I’m pleased to announce that due to GMP and the council working closely with the local college, the required lighting is now being fitted and the college is covering the cost. I’m confident that this measure will help greatly in reducing crime in the area.”

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