At the top of Bridge Street, just before you get to the bridge and overlooked by Albert Bridge House, is a little piece of land. It’s on the edge of Spinningfields and on my route from that part of town to Kendal’s department store on Deansgate and on to St. Ann’s Sqaure. I imagine at some point there must have been buildings on it. What they were and what happened to them I don’t know. They could have been demolished or even bombed out in WWII. At some point someone decided to pave the area over. It looks like it was done in the 80s. It has a dated look and could do with a bit of a makeover. There’s some uneven paving and a few benches. A cool restaurant has opened on it but I’ve not seen any tables spilling out onto it yet. It doesn’t have a name, so I call it ‘the square with no name.’ Imaginative aren’t I?
I’d like to see it given a thorough update. Maybe now people see the stunning job they’ve done on St. Peter’s Square, the city might have an appetite for this to happen. In the meantime a little olive grove has sprung up. Surprisingly these trees do well in Manchester. We usually associate them with holidays in places like Spain, Italy and Greece. But some types of olive trees live up in the mountains in those countries and are used to cold winters. We may not have baking hot summers like Tuscany and Andalusia but our winters are mild compared with the Italian and Spanish mountains so the trees thrive here. But, because of the shortness and the coolness of our summers we have, we are unlikely ever to see a crop of olives. They are very decorative trees and are popping up around the city. There are some outside Selfridges in Exchange Square and there’s also a grove of them, along with some lemon and orange trees, on the top of the Hilton Tower. How cool is that.
These trees will probably have started out life in one of the Mediterranean countries before being transported to their new home in Manchester. They do have these wonderful gnarled trunks that become more contorted over the years. They are long lived trees and some, in their original countries, will have seen, if not the rise of the Roman Empire, the fall of it. The ones here have been put into some of those wonderful, bee, cast iron containers that have been popping up around the city. They were cast by the Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax, the company that cast the parts for The Angel of the North that you see on the main road as you approach Newcastle.
In the centre of the square is, I imagine, the oldest of the olive trees. Just look at how gnarled its trunk is. It’s been given a different type of container as suits its importance as the oldest tree in the grove. I wonder if Hargreaves cast this as well?