A call to revamp and rebrand Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens is getting mixed reactions on social media.
Piccadilly Gardens may have its name changed, along with its layout and look. Instead, ‘a modern, fully paved square with the trees retained and a new fountain that works and isn’t surrounded by a trench’ is proposed.
In a piece for Manchester Confidential, Jonathan Schofield suggested that ‘to signify this complete overhaul, the name should definitely change. It’s not fit for purpose anymore.’
‘The name Piccadilly was borrowed from London in the eighteenth century as Manchester began to flex its trading muscles and cravenly aped the capital. It has nothing fundamentally to do with Manchester.’
‘Nor is the word ‘Gardens’ now acceptable. There are no gardens. There is grass in various states of well-being, some hideous planters which hide drug dealers from the street and hide the statues from the ‘gardens’, an ugly fountain, and that’s about it’, Schofield explains.
Responding to Schofield, Councillor Pat Karney said, “People like the gardens. I think a majority of Mancunians want to keep them. That’s what our consultations have said.”
Schofield counters Cllr Karney’s argument, citing that only people over sixty want to keep ‘the idea’ of the gardens alive.
‘They remember them in their manicured, floral heyday as the sunken gardens. It would seem while they want that gardens back they don’t want the one we have now. At the same time nobody who has been coming into the city centre since the eighties will remember the gardens with affection. They were a hub for anti-social behaviour then and they frequently are now’ he said.
The new name Schofield suggested is Manchester Square.
‘This would be a powerful name for what should be a powerful central space. The model of St Peter’s Square could be followed.
Manchester Square would be hard-paved, keep all the present trees and add some more, have lots and lots of seating, and be clean, sharp, elegant and befitting a twenty-first century European city. It would be defined by clarity not confusion,’ Schofield said.