It’s the final chapter for the square’s three year, £20m transformation
Today saw St Peter’s Square water feature turned on for the first time, marking an end to the square’s three-year development.
Situated between the new Metrolink stop and Number One and Number Two St Peter’s, the feature tops off a major £20m transformation - beginning in 2014 with Metrolink’s expansion as part of the Second City Crossing, which opened to the public last February.
Other developments include a new tram stop (opened in August last year), improvements to surrounding property and the relocation of the Cenotaph from its original site near the St Peter’s Cross to one ’more appropriate for commemorative events and moments of quiet contemplation’ outside the Town Hall’s Cooper Street entrance.
With the aim of create an inviting public space in the civic heart of the city, 50 semi-mature trees have also been planted, including on the tram platform - a first for the tram network.
In light of its historical significance, as central to the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, the square is also increasingly used for commemorative events. Last December, a time capsule was buried outside the Central Library - designed to provide a snapshot of life in Manchester for future generations - and February saw the St Peter’s Square Cross rededicated in a ceremony led by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, celebrating the religious history of the site.
St Peter’s Square will be also be home to a new public sculpture commemorating the life of Manchester suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, due to be unveiled on International Women’s Day in March 2019.
The water feature - a discreet ‘horizontal fountain’ bordered by a profusion of shrubs - is designed to complement the public square: bordered by Grade II historical buildings including Alfred Waterhouse’s Grade II-listed Neo-Gothic Town Hall, the Central Library (opened by King George V on 17 July 1934) and the famed Midland Hotel.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This water feature is the closing chapter to what has been a remarkable transformation of St Peter’s Square, from a muddle and claustrophobic transport interchange into an enviable public space that can sit proudly amongst the renowned squares across the world.
“In St Peter’s we have somewhere in our city centre that the public can truly be proud of and a space that complements the architecture – both new and old – in the civic heart of Manchester.”
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “As well as being one of Manchester’s most important civic areas, St Peter’s Square is home to one of Metrolink’s busiest tram stops.
“It’s fitting that we now have a completely transformed, bigger and better tram stop at the heart of the square, being used by more people than ever before. The new stop offers even more opportunities for people to travel into the city and enjoy everything the new-look square and surrounding area has to offer.”