Withington history
The Green and Cotton Lane

Withington Green

Withington Green is a roughly triangular piece of land at the junction of Wilmslow Road (one of the principal roads south from Manchester and once a turnpike road) and Cotton Lane (an old thoroughfare from the east into Withington - see below). Johnson's Plan of the Parish of Manchester (1820)  records the settlement at this junction as "Withington Green", suggesting that the Green itself is considerably older. Withington Green is marked on the Withington Tithe Map of 1845-48, occupying the same land as now and recorded as "public land".

Withington Green in the early 1900s.
In the Victorian period and later, ornamental trees and flower beds were introduced with a variety of designs over the years. Old photographs and postcards record many of these designs.

The Green continued to be a public garden and green space for the people of Withington until 2012, when The Christie and the University of Manchester applied to build the a cancer research centre behind the Green, threatening the existence of the Green.

There were considerable protests and legal moves to try to prevent this destruction, including applying for Village Green status, and responding to planning applications. A compromise was agreed, with the building moved away from the Green, and a new landscaped area on the site of Withington Green. See the Protests page for details of these events.

Here are pictures of the Green before and after the redevelopment. Click on the images to enlarge.


Springtime rhododendrons on the Green

Withington Green - tulips and cherry blossom

Tulips and cherry blossom - the Green in Springtime. [April 2012]

The Green in the Spring, looking North, in

Withington Green

The Green in 2019, as part of the design
for the MCRC building. The view is
the same as the picture on the left.

Cotton Lane and Cotton Tree Field

Cotton Tree public house, Withington
Cotton Lane runs east from the Green. It is an ancient thoroughfare, recorded on Johnson's Plan of the Parish of Manchester  (1820), but is likely to be much older.

The area to the east of the Green, variously called Cotton Tree Field, Cotton Field or Cotton Doles, is a remnant of one of the open fields of the ancient open field system for Withington. The origin of these names is not clear. Kenneth Whittaker (in A History of Withington) suggests the name probably comes from "co-town strips making up the fields at the far end [of Cotton Lane]" - part of the old open field system. (This may well be correct, but "cotton tree" suggests poplar trees which are occasionally known as "cotton trees" ("cottonwoods" in the US) from the downy covering of the seeds from female trees.) See the Old Maps page for maps of this area through the ages.

The Cotton Tree public house (right), whose name records the old Cotton Tree Field, was demolished in 2011.