A social history of Wythenshawe and its Civic Centre can be found here at Archives +.
A general history of the garden city’s development can be found here at Municipal Dreams.
Lest we forget, the story begins with a level of overcrowding and human misery that is – thankfully – almost unimaginable in Britain today. In 1935, Manchester’s Medical Officer of Health condemned 30,000 (of a total of 80,000) inner-city homes as unfit for human habitation; 7000 families were living in single rooms.
The estate was always considered to be, in some sense, the realisation of an ambitious vision.
The world of the future – a world where men and women workers shall be decently housed and served, where the health and safety of little children are of paramount importance, and where work and leisure may be enjoyed to the full.
Cooperative Women’s Guild
Work began in the interwar years, and continued following the hiatus of 1939-45. The shopping centre named the Civic Centre was open in 1963, the actual Civic Centre containing a swimming pool, theatre, public hall and library in 1971.
A triumph for Municipal Modernism conceived by the City Architects and realised by Direct Works. This post war development owed more to the spirit of Festival of Britain optimism, new construction methods and materials, rather than the grandiose functionalist classicism of the original scheme.
The Co-operative Superstore was a key element in the provision of provisions.
Along with Fine Fare and Mercury Market.
Fred Dawes Whitworth Park Gas Showrooms
New Day furnishing the local HQ was at Hilton House Stockport
The flats were demolished in 2007
Edwards Court and Birch Tree Court 1987 – Tower Block
First there was a bowling alley.
Which became the Golden Garter
Closed 3rd January 1983
Then there was a theatre The Forum
There still is – The Forum is a bright and modern hub for co-located services used by community and business.
The original Forum opened in 1971. One of Manchester’s largest public buildings, it had a leisure centre, library, theatre, main hall and meeting rooms. By the mid 1990’s it was under used, had deteriorated internally and externally and needed substantial investment.
The new Forum, along with a new police sub-divisional headquarters and improved transport link was designed to help strengthen the town centre, and provide a landmark project to raise Wythenshawe’s profile within Manchester and beyond.
In the 1980’s they put on a superb array of shows including Roll on 4 O’Clock which starred John Jardine, Jack Smethurst and Glynn Owen. Oh What a lovely War; What the Butler Saw and Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett. Bury’s own Victoria Wood starred in Talent which she wrote. Another Manchester icon Frank Foo Foo Lammar, famous as the top drag queen of the North-West whose club was re-known for its great party nights appeared in The Rocky horror Show.
A land of elegant covered walkways and raised beds.
A land of 24 hour petrol stations and quadruple Green Shield Stamps.
Some where along the way we lost our way – taxi!
Photographs Manchester Local Image Collection
6 thoughts on “Wythenshawe Civic Centre”
excellent as ever , the University of Glasgow have just hosted an event with/on Raymond Depardon , his unpublished photographs of 1980 and a bit on You tube worth a look adrian
Cheers Adrian will take a look!
An outsiders view is always something , ever been to South Lanarkshire Council Office complex at Hamilton , all original 1964 a scaled down CIS !! i went earlier this year to photograph the Philips light bulb factory , being cleared , for housing cheers adrian
Great to see this memory jogging Archive. I grew up in the ” bottom ” end of Peel Hall, at #2 Tatland Drive, from 1953, when Mum and Dad were able to secure a ground floor flat, because Winifred had a seriously weakened heart from 17hrs of ground breaking, open-heart surgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary. We later moved along to 72, Peel Hall Road.
Thanks for compiling this article, ‘Civic’ was a great place to shop in the 60’s and 70’s , today it’s a soulless place devoid of greenery and decent shopping, it’s now a place to avoid
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