Philips Park Cemetery was Manchesters first municipal public cemetery when it opened in 1866, though work was in fact not completed on its grounds and structures until the following year. Manchester Corporation had held an open competition in 1863 for the design of a cemetery to the north of the River Medlock; from forty entries submitted, Manchester architects Paull and Ayliffes designs for the buildings and William Gay of Bradfords designs for the grounds were chosen. Manchester Corporation recruited unemployed cotton mill workers to carry out the laying out and planting work.
The site was divided into separate areas for different denominations, with the largest portion (8 hectares) at the western end, nearest to town and the main entrance, for the Church of England. Dissenters, or non-conformists, had the 5.5 hectare centre portion, and Roman Catholics a 3 hectare portion at the eastern end. Each portion had its own mortuary chapel, all built in the gothic revival style but to different designs. A fourth mortuary chapel and burial area, for Jews, was later added. Of the four mortuary chapels, only the Anglican chapel now remains.
The bodies laid to rest in Manchesters first municipal public cemetery did not all rest easily. Early in the cemeterys history, in the summer of 1872, torrential rains caused floods that disinterred many bodies, carrying them along the river. In response to the flooding, work began on the red terracotta-brick channel, which has since carried the river between the park and adjoining cemetery.
Not too much to say here, one of those municipal buildings you can find in any large city in Britain. Same story with most of them, city corporation becomes a city council, wards change and budgets are cut. Money is needed elsewhere. Buildings don't get maintained and start to deteriorate. The council then use this vast restoration bill as an excuse to close the building (forgetting to remind us that it was their neglect that caused the decay in the first place)
The building sits and decays. The valuable lead is stolen from the roof. The vulnerable wood beneath begins to decay. Water finds it's way in and drops the plaster ceilings. Vandals pot the windows and perhaps start fires.
The community begin to notice the building is deteriorating. Their voice is sometimes heard by the council. The council use the building's restoration as a campaign boost. "We'll save our heritage". Lottery funding is sought. Occasionally the building is restored... etc etc. From Glasgow to London you will find a fine building like this in ruins.
This one is quite a nice ruin. Lovely tiles and stonework to admire, but in all honesty there is as much left as you'd find of most medieval castles. I literally can't see any future for it, but I'd like to be proven wrong
We decided this was the poorest excuse for a memorial ever created...