The Britain from Above project, of which this is one of many but with a focus on gardens, explores different areas of the country through the medium of aerial photographs. I am working with a Year 4 class at Crowcroft Park Primary School in South Manchester (over 4 weeks) to study old images of the area from as early as 1927 up until the present day and to us the images as inspiration for a show garden. It is a feature garden, not a judged show garden which might be as well as we only have 4 weeks from start to finish!
Aerial photographs began in 1919, so the images we are looking at are fairly early on and provide a wonderful glimpse into the lives of people 87 years ago. In 1927, the trams travel past back-to-back houses crammed in cheek by jowl and large industrial factories with huge chimneys (The Gorton Foundry) rub shoulder to shoulder with private formal gardens with their flower bed displays and amusement parks (Belle Vue Zoological Gardens). Our journey then takes us into the 1940's and the arrival of crescent-shaped council house estates complete with their own garden and wide streets (but few cars). The images of Belle Vue in the 1940's show the increase in allotments during this time due to the Dig for Victory campaign during the Second World War. Into the present day, the shape of the Gorton reservoirs and Debdale Park have remained largely the same, but the countryside edge has gone, being replaced by the hum of the M60.
All of these things have given us a great glimpse into the past, but the area has changed in many ways since 1927 and we also want to illustrate this within the garden. The ancestors of the children at the school come from all corners of the globe, so it is likely that the garden will travel from very British origins in the 1920's to a very multicultural mix of the present day...watch this space as I work with the children to create a truly remarkable garden!