The fencing has come down (Friday, 28 April) in Piccadilly Gardens marking the end of the major programme and a new beginning for the public space as summer approaches.
Ready for the season, the whole of Piccadilly Gardens has had a deep cleanse, while the historic monuments – Peel, Watt, Wellington and Victoria – have been steam cleaned. A conservation team have also been onsite to give a hot wax treatment to the statues to help protect the bronzes from the elements.
At the same time, the Carrara marble steps, which form part of the Queen Victoria statue, have been re-pointed.
The majority of the grassed areas have been re-turfed, with particular attention to the area affected by the water feature project.
The famous water feature was brought back on line earlier this year, which required a significant amount of earth works to give access to the underground machinery, and has been running on a minimum flow ever since while the surrounding works were completed.
Following the completion of the turfing work, the fountain has now been drained, deep cleaned and refilled, and visitors to the public square will be able to see the water feature fully operational from 7am until 11pm in the summer, and 8am until 10pm in the winter.
Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s City Centre Spokesperson, said: “Piccadilly Gardens is a key pubic space in the city centre that thousands of people visit every day. You just have to see the crowds that flock on a sunny day to see how popular it is and how important it is for us to create a space where Manchester people and visitors can be proud of.
“The fountain is back, ready for the summer months, and we have already had a huge response from the public celebrating their return.
“It’s taken a number of months to get the Gardens ready for the public and we appreciate everyone’s patience while the work has been carried out. Now I’m happy to announce that Piccadilly Gardens is open to the public again and it’s fantastic to see it looking better than ever.”
Water feature repair programme
The massive operation required the two colossal water tanks to be completely removed and replaced, along with major repairs to the fountain’s plant room.
This incredible undertaking required the broken machinery to be lifted out and a significant amount of earth removal works to give access to the water feature’s system. (See accompanying pictures to appreciate the scale of the project)
The reinforced concrete tank now has a water capacity of 70,000 litres that will feed 15 pumps to power the 180 jets that create the incredible water show above the surface – throwing water up to 6metres into the air.
Each jet has two sets of LED lights, controlled by an underground system that allows the water above ground to be up lit in any combination of colours, which can also be programmed for different events and celebrations.
Project with St Marys CE Primary School, Webster Primary, Claremont Primary and Martenscroft Nursery School
Pupils from the schools have been part of a project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which charted the history of the Gardens through its history. They have learnt how the Gardens came to be, how the area has changed, and have also looked to the future.
The pupils were asked how they thought the Gardens should look in 2050 when they take their children to the city centre.
Their designs will now form an exhibition at Manchester Central Library in June.
Some of the work they have made will also be kept as part of the Manchester Archive to ensure a personal history of the city is kept to mark the project.