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READER PHOTOGRAPH

PICCADILLY AS IT LOOKED IN 1993 is seen here in a photograph taken by Graham Johnson. We are standing between the recently installed Metrolink lines, looking towards Oldham Street. The statue of Sir Robert Peel is on the right.

The buses are in the brown, orange and white colours of GM Buses. Passing by the end of Oldham St is a Walls bus in that company's green and white colours. The former Littlewoods store, now housing a branch of Boots, is on the left. This was first opened as a cinema in the 1920.

IT'S 2001 AND EYEWITNESS ADDS: The road layout was changed in 1995 and once more in 1999. Walls was taken over by Stagecoach. And under Manchester* City Council's 1999 redevelopment plans, it's all change yet again - The Peel statue will be moved and on this area will appear an oval shaped pond with walk-through fountains and a hump back footbridge leading from Oldham St to the Japanese style pavilion.

READER PHOTOGRAPH

THIS IS THE VIEW OF PICCADILLY IN THE 1970'S, as seen from a vantage point at the top of the former Littlewoods store. We are looking down onto the bus stops, and along Mosley Street to the right.

I estimate the year to be 1974 and it looks like a summer's day. The buses have been repainted in the orange and white colours of Selnec, later renamed Greater Manchester Transport. The bus in the foreground, previously painted in Manchester* Corporation's red and cream, was the first rear-engined type to be introduced in Manchester in the 1960's. A single-decker Centreline bus from Victoria Station is about to turn right from Mosley Street into Piccadilly, on its way to Piccadilly Station. The two buses further back are parked at the northern 'island' of the Piccadilly bus shelter which was built in 1958.

Directly opposite is Piccadilly Plaza, now around 10 years old. On its podium stands Bernard House, with its unusually shaped roof. The letters on the upper floor spell the name 'Eagle Star House'.

IT'S 2001 AND EYEWITNESS SAYS: I used to catch the 192 bus from the bus stop directly below. Twenty years later this area was closed to traffic to make way for pedestrians and Metrolink trams, and the bus shelter was demolished. The street lights at the very bottom are of a type which used to be seen all over Manchester - The only surviving examples can be seen at Queens Road bus depot, in Cheetham Hill. Eagle Star House, which especially caught my eye as a child, was dismantled in 2001 as part of the renovation of Piccadilly Plaza. Many thanks to Graham Johnson for this excellent photograph.

READER PHOTOGRAPH

WE ARE LOOKING DOWN on Piccadilly Gardens as they looked in the mid-seventies.

A 211 bus is passing below us - on its side is the logo of Greater Manchester Transport, which took over from Selnec when Greater Manchester came into being in 1974.

The statue of Peel is on the left and behind it, the row of telephone boxes, with the underground toilets on the left.

It's summer, and the flower beds of Piccadilly Gardens are in full bloom. Beyond the gardens we can see the curved roof of the Piccadilly bus station shelter, built in 1958. Piccadilly Plaza is visible at the top of the picture with cars parked on the podium roof.

IT'S 2001 AND EYEWITNESS SAYS: Is that me in flared trousers and sideburns leaning against the statue of Peel? The statue and surroundings look remarkably clean and free of graffiti. Most people have forgotten just how nice Piccadilly was, and could have been made to look again.

THE MOSLEY STREET END of Piccadilly Gardens looks run down but still attractive on the morning of 10 May 2000. The view through the trees of Edward Walters' superb 1854 facade, now a hotel, looks classy and almost European. If the paths and lawns were better maintained, this could be Hyde Park and Park Lane in London.

This pleasant open space will disappear under an office block to be constructed on this site as part of Manchester* City Council's 1999 - 2002 redevelopment of Piccadilly.

GROSVENOR SQUARE, Mayfair, City of Westminster, London, photographed during a visit to London in June 2000, is roughly the same size as Piccadilly Manchester and is overlooked on three sides by magnificent Georgian buildings.

At its western end is the Embassy of the United States, housed in an impressive modern building crowned by an eagle. Several other embassies occupy houses around the square.

Statues of Eisenhower and Roosevelt testify to the special relationship forged between Britain and the United States during the Second World War.

The square is named after the Duke of Grosvenor, who was one of England's wealthiest landowners. His name also figures in Grosvenor Street, All Saints, in Manchester.

EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER ASKS: How would people react if Westminster City Council proposed to sell off part of Grosvenor Square for an office block, moved the statues of Eisenhower and Roosevelt and carried out a millenium-style designer make-over on the remainder of the square, as Manchester* City Council proposed for Piccadilly in 1999 and subsequently approved? It seems different standards apply in London and Manchester.

THESE PICTURES DOCUMENT the demise of Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, when in May 2000, the area was partially fenced off, and work began on clearing the site.

The local authority, Manchester* City Council, have omitted to put up any pictures or plans to show the public what Piccadilly Gardens will look like when work is completed.

EYEWITNESS SAYS: It's a sad end for a place which was once quintessentially Manchester, and one of the best loved spots in the city.

Will the new Piccadilly with its new millennium style designer makeover be as popular and well loved as the old one once was?

MORE PICTURES OF PICCADILLY will appear as the work proceeds, and whatever you think of it all when it's finished, some time during 2002, remember you were given advance notice of it here in Eyewitness in Manchester!

*And don't forget, the City of Manchester* local authority covers only a comparatively small part of the area known in the wider world as 'Manchester', and is therefore unrepresentative of that area. Piccadilly is an important focal point in the Manchester area, so the local authority question is crucial. More about this in Manchester boundaries.

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