Cheetham Park, more commonly known as Elizabeth Street Park is a Victorian park, which is situated at the centre of Cheetham Hill, North Manchester. Opened in 1886, the park holds happy memories for many people who grew up in the area. However, over recent years it has been neglected and is currently not well-used. The park is also home to two historic structures – a listed bandstand which dates from 1890, and a viewing shelter, which sits opposite and references the bandstand’s architecture.
About the project
In 2013, arts organisation Buddleia worked with residents of Cheetham Hill, North Manchester, and artist Torange Khonsari, of art and architecture group Public Works, to explore the history of Cheetham Park on Elizabeth street and to think about how it could once again become an important community space.We invited people to take part in a series of activities in the park. These included the DIY Common, developed by Torange Khonsari as a way to use the park as a collective resource for the surrounding community. That project was sponsored by Buddleia, the Arts Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund, and Zest North Manchester.
A new artist residency on the theme of Cheetham Park has started as from February 2015, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and led by Torange Khonsari in partnership with the Manchester Jewish Museum, Dr. Abigail Gilmore from the Institute for Cultural Practices, and two Researchers-in-Residence from the University of Manchester.
Torange Khonsari is an artist and academic based at the Royal College of Art. She will be working at the museum over the next 7 months on a fascinating project about Cheetham Park (on Elizabeth Street). Her residency will explore the history of the park, collecting people’s memories and holding activities both in the park and at the museum. She now wants to speak to anyone that remembers the park.The park was once the social hub for residents of Cheetham Hill with attractions including a bowling green, tennis courts and a bandstand. MJM holds the minute books from the Cheetham Park bowling club (comprising mainly Jewish members) and has photographs in its archive documenting the park’s history. Today the park is now in serious decline with a derelict bandstand and overgrown flower beds.
Using MJM’s archives, Torange now wants to safeguard the park’s future by celebrating its past.
Torange is planning a ‘Save Cheetham Park’ Society with activities including gardening, weaving, cooking and general socialising. A Cheetham Park Gazette is also being planned with local recipes, anecdotes and memories about the park.Speaking about her museum residency, Torange says:
“Public parks are our community asset. We all have memories of playing in them, meeting friends, having picnics, arguing with our parents and attending festivals. Once we neglect and misuse them, they become vulnerable. I’m not willing to give up on parks, big or small, are you?”
Torange is now keen to speak to anyone that has memories about the park. She also wants to speak to anyone that wants to join the craft workshops that aim to bring life back to the park.
Were you, or any of your family, members of the Cheetham Park bowling club? Did you play tennis in the park or do you remember the band playing on the bandstand? Perhaps you just played in the park as a child? Whatever your memory, Torange would like to hear from you.
To take part, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 07766105209 or 07999447282