A new exhibition at Manchester’s Central Library will take visitors back to the Edwardian era with a showcase of interesting discoveries made during Metrolink works at St Peter’s Square.
An archaeological project got under way in the square last year, when the former St Peter’s Church crypt was unearthed during construction work for Metrolink’s transformational Second City Crossing.
The display, which runs until 31 July in the library’s Archives+ Centre,includes day-to-day discarded items such as bottles, ‘penny licks’, and clay pipes, along with less common finds such as a hat, clothing and a lady’s shoe, possibly lost during night time revelry on the square.
It is thought that they date back to 1907 when St Peter’s Church was demolished and the crypt was sealed and covered by concrete. Metrolink uncovered and resealed the burial vaults, which still contain the graves of those buried there.
Transport for Greater Manchester engaged CFA Archaeology Ltd to help preserve any finds of historical interest.
Martin Lightfoot, Head of Commercial Operations, said: “The exhibition highlights a theme of continuity and change; St Peter’s square remains the meeting place that it has been for centuries; yet this snapshot into Edwardian Manchester shows a time when the square was evolving and being reconfiguring for that age, as it is now for a new age.”
Once the Metrolink works are completed in the area the St Peter’s Cross Monument will be rebuilt on an island between the tram tracks above the former crypt space, as a memorial to the former St Peter’s Church.
Archaeological ground investigations are also currently taking place further along the Second City Crossing route near the Unitarian Church on Cross Street, where the remains of over 260 people, interred 150 to 200 years ago, have been found.
As they are within the footprint of the tramway, the remains are being sensitively and respectfully removed and reinterred in Southern Cemetery in order for the new Metrolink track to be installed.