The sensitive relocation of the cenotaph from St Peter’s Square to its new location in front of the Cooper Street entrance to the town hall has been completed. The move, part of the extensive refurbishment of St Peter’s Square, has created an appropriately superior setting for the Manchester cenotaph and a new public precinct.
The monument is now centred on both Lloyd Street and the Town Hall entrance on Cooper Street which provides more room for commemorative events and space for quiet contemplation.
Development works to the new cenotaph site were started in January working closely with heritage and conservation specialists – as well as full consultations with veterans’ groups and church authorities – and received broad support for the relocation.
Portland stone has been used to match the stone used when the cenotaph was originally designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. As a precious artefact, replacing stone has been kept to a minimum to retain the historical value of the original – and expert carvers have re-cut weathered lettering and conservation works have been carried out to museum standard to preserve the intended vision for the memorial.
The new design has been heavily influenced by Lutyens’ original, and wider, design for the cenotaph area in St Peter’s Square – which was changed after World War Two to integrate a garden area – incorporating a wide elliptical seating area, providing an area of quiet contemplation.
Fencing will remain surrounding the new cenotaph until public realm works in St Peter’s Square in front of the refurbished Town Hall Extension and Central Library are completed at the end of September.
Coinciding with the completion, a service will be held to mark the sensitive relocation of the cenotaph in October.
Further to the transformation of St Peter’s Square, to allow the Metrolink Second City Cross tracks and tram stop to be constructed, the St Peter’s Cross – which marks the location of the demolished church once on the site – will be placed in storage and returned when the works are completed.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “In moving the cenotaph we have finally realised a truly distinctive area of the city centre that is fitting to the memorial and a real tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our city and our country.
“Respect for what the cenotaph represents has always been central to these plans and we thank the veterans’ and heritage groups for their input. The completion this week will allow veterans and members of the public enough time to familiarise themselves with the new cenotaph ahead of the 2014 Remembrance Sunday commemoration in November.”