Thursday, 7 January 2016

What was going on in Piccadilly Gardens on that summer’s day?

Now I make no apology about revisiting this picture of Piccadilly Gardens sometime in the 1950s.

There was something going on and the event has eluded me.

At first I just took the image at face value.  Here was a sunny day in Piccadilly with people making the most of the sun and the Corporation deckchairs.

But there is more and it is there to see in the line of people behind the deck chairs whose attention has been caught by something we can’t see.

Now according to my 1963 Official Parks Programme published by the Corporation there were “first class Bands engaged to present Concerts on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season.”

So we may have the event but as to the date that still has yet to be determined.

It will be the 1950s and there is a tantalizing clue on the sports page of a newspaper which refers to   a McGregor who was a tennis player in the early 50s.

But that is as far as I can go.

Now when I posted the original story it attracted a lot of interest not least from people who mourn the passing of the old gardens and feel uncomfortable with that grey concrete slab.

So for them and for all those who have no idea what the old place was like, here from that 1963 programme is a description of “Piccadilly Gardens, City Centre, 2 acres.  Gardens acquired in 1920.  These beautiful gardens in the heart of the city are frequented by large numbers of people daily and are on the site once occupied by the gigantic black building, the Royal Infirmary.


An extensive bedding system is carried out here in the gardens which are bright and cheerful from early spring to late autumn.  

First class Bands engaged to present Concerts on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season.

Deck chairs are available to the public each day during the summer when weather permits.

During the Christmas season the Gardens are brightly illuminated with fairy lights and working tableaux which are a great attraction to many thousands of visitors to the city.”

And for those who wondered “HIRE OF DECKCHAIRS IN PARKS, 1/- 6D of this is a deposit and will be returned when the chair is returned.” 

*Leisure & Pleasure in the Open Air, Parks Committee, Manchester Corporation, 1963.

Picture; courtesy of Suzanne Moorehead

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