Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Search the University of Manchester siteSearch Menu StaffNet

Whitworth Park-life revealed ...

21 Apr 2014

Museum exhibits toys and trinkets from archaeological dig

Photo courtesy of Manchester Museum

University archaeologists have spent four years leading a community archaeology project, exploring how the role of Manchester’s Whitworth Park has changed over time.

Its culmination is a new exhibition at Manchester Museum, ‘Whitworth Park: Pleasure, Play and Politics’.

The exhibition will reveal the story of this very popular Victorian and Edwardian park through finds such as children’s toys dropped or lost in the boating lake. Of particular interest are personal objects that resonate today, or those that shed light on the behaviour expected of visitors to the park – and what happened in reality.

University researcher Ruth Colton, from the University-led Community Archaeology Project, said: “I don't agree that Victorian and Edwardian children were to be seen and not heard.

“Like today, there was a rowdy and unpredictable side too: while parks were supposed to promote social harmony, this was often resisted and parks could be sites of conflict and contrast.

“Newspapers reported that children and youths were sitting on park benches shouting abuse at passers-by. Children would also illegally fish in park lakes for ornamental fish or steal fruit of the trees.

“I hope that our work will inform our understanding of the parks’ heritage and in doing so will help to inform a vision for their future.”

The free exhibition opens on Thursday 22 May and runs until 5 October.