The years of St Peter’s Square looking like a building site are over. A new water feature has been unveiled in the square to mark it being fully open to the public following three years of re-development.
The square has a distinctly continental feel with a panorama of architecture you can look out on to from the Grade II listed classically-styled Central Library to the towering neo-gothic Town Hall, The Midland Hotel which was described as a “Twentieth Century Palace” when it opened in 1903, as well as the modern developments of No1 and No2 St Peters Square.
Work has included Metrolink expansion as part of the Second City Crossing, a new tram stop, the relocation of the cenotaph, development of the surrounding property, and planting of over 50 mature trees, including the first trees on a tram platform in the whole of Manchester.
The water feature was turned on close to the new Metrolink stop for the first time to mark the completion of the major transformation of the area.
Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese 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.”
The square is named after St Peter’s Church built around 1788 and demolished in 1907. A stone cross was built to commemorate it, with the cenotaph added alongside it in 1924. During the redevelopment, these have been moved to the Cooper Street side of The Town Hall to create a separate area for quiet reflection away from the traffic.
The area around the square is the site of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 when the king’s cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000-80,000 people who had gathered peacefully to demand parliamentary reform.
In December 2016, a time capsule was buried here, the contents of which will provide a snapshot of life in Manchester for future generations.