Last week I went to a really interesting talk by Anne Tucker from the Friends of Platt Fields on William Royle, the man responsible for persuading the city to council open the estate of Platt Hall as a public park in 1910. Alongside the busy bus corridor of Oxford Road and surrounded by the dense suburbs of Rusholme, Moss Side and Fallowfield, Platt Fields Park does feel like a piece of countryside which has been preserved in south Manchester.
William Royle was concered about the spread of the city of Manchester swamping his village, and he wasn’t the only Manchester resident who was watching the rapid changes to the city. In the preface to his book of Manchester walks (1882), Leo Grindon comments “Neighbourhoods once familiar as delightful rural solitudes, are now covered with houses, and densely crowded with population; the pleasant field-paths we trod in our youth have disappeared, and in their stead are long lines of pavement, lighted by gas and paced by policemen…….No longer than fifteen years ago (i.e. in 1840) ….on the very spot where Platt Chuch now lifts its tall and graceful spire, there was a large pond filled with the Stratiotes, or water aloe.”
The plant referred to is Stratiotes aloides (now more often known as water soldier) which grows in healthy ponds. This specimen from our British collection was collected from Rusholme in 1849 by Joseph Sidebotham – a good friend of Leo Grindon. Did it come from that missing pond underneath Platt church? I guess we’ll never know and it shows that there is no such thing as too much information on a specimen label.