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Albert Square

An open public space in front of Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square plays host to many events throughout the year.

Named after the memorial monument to Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert situated in its north-western corner, the square particularly comes to life at Christmas.

History by Wiki
The area in which the square is situated was once derelict land and an area of dense housing near the Town Yard and the River Tib (named Longworth's Folly).

The square's creation arose out of a project by Manchester Corporation's Monuments Committee to erect a memorial to Prince Albert who had died of typhoid in 1861. After initial proposals to create a memorial library, museum or botanical gardens, the committee decided to erect a statue in a decorated canopy. It was originally planned to place the monument in front of the Royal Infirmary building at Piccadilly, between the statues of Wellington and Peel. However it was felt that its ornate Gothic design was not in keeping with the neoclassical infirmary.[2] In 1863, land was offered by the Corporation which was cleared to make way for a public space.

The project won much public support; the Manchester Bricklayers' Protection Society donated 50,000 bricks towards the monument's construction, "as an expression of sympathy towards our beloved Queen". When construction problems arose (the site was found to be riddled with drains and culverts) and the bricks were used up on the foundations alone, a public subscription was launched in 1865 and a further £6,249 was raised, in spite of the hardships of the Cotton Famine.

Clearing the site began in 1864, and required the demolition of over 100 buildings, including the Engraver's Arms pub, a coffee roasting works, a smithy, a coal yard and various warehouses. The project was encouraged by the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to open the Albert Monument in 1869.

It was decided to construct a new town hall for Manchester, as the old building in King Street had become too small. Following an architectural competition, Gothic designs for a building with a high bell tower by Sir Alfred Waterhouse were selected, and the Town Hall was begun in 1868 and completed in 1877.

In the early 1970s, there was a plan to build an underground station under Albert Square and neighbouring St Peter's Square, as part of the ill-fated Picc-Vic tunnel project.[4] The project was eventually cancelled and the station was not built.

In April 1972, the area around Albert Square was designated a conservation area, and in 1981 to include the neighbouring, newly created Lincoln Square. (The creation of Lincoln Square completed a "procesional way" from the Law Courts through Spinningfields and Lincoln Square to the Town Hall.)

The centre of Albert Square was originally laid out in the form of a traffic circle and a group of bus stops occupied the western part. In 1987 the square was redesigned and the eastern side in front of the town hall was pedestrianised. The square was laid with fan-shaped granite setts, York stone paving and 'heritage'-style cast-iron street furniture.

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