History of Broadhurst Fields
In a letter dated 2nd June 1919, Sir Edward wrote “As a thank offering for the Victory of the Allies, in the winning of which Manchester men – and women also- have played such a glorious part: and in gratitude for all that Manchester has done for me, I beg to offer to the Corporation a small piece of property in Moston, for the purposes of a playing grounds and fields, and a park for the people.
The property lies between St Marys Road, Nuthurst Road, Moston Lane and the cemetery, and a Dingle and is some 80 acres in extent.
I purposely place playing grounds and fields before park, as I wish these to be the the main purpose of the ground, rather than a laid out park, although some of the ground at the lower end being undulating, will probably be more suitable for the latter than the former. However, with this expression, I am quite content to leave the matter to the discretion of the Parks Committee, but I must stipulate that no portion of the land shall ever be used for building purposes, except for such buildings as are necessary for the equipment of the park, etc., or for a public library or Council school.”
The land was conveyed on 23rd July 1920, with covenants as to use solely as playing fields and park except for structures in connection with recreation.
During the Second World War, prefabs were erected on part of the park for Polish soldiers who manned an anti-aircraft battery on the site. (The circular foundations of the battery can still be seen on Broadhurst Playing Field near to the boundary with the cemetery). Manchester residents moved into the prefabs after the war and lived there until the 1960’s when the buildings and Moston Hall were demolished. The area was grassed over and trees were planted. Apple trees from the prefab gardens can still be seen.
In 1975 a plan to build houses on the park was abandoned after intense opposition from local people to what would have been a breach of the covenant by the donor.
Moston Hall stood on the first field at the St Mary’s Road entrance near the allotments. There were several outbuildings and a large cobbled yard. The Hall was demolished in the early 1960’s after becoming vacant and subsequently being vandalised and the field was levelled and grassed over.
In 2003-2005 an archaeological dig on the site of Moston Hall was carried out by local volunteers working alongside professional archaeologists as part of the Dig Manchester Project. The site is known to have been occupied since at least the thirteenth century, possibly much earlier, and provided a wealth of archaeological finds.
An open day took place to mark the end of the Dig in 2005, with an exhibition of the many articles which had been found, tours of the excavation site, films, drawings, plans and photographs. It was a fitting end to what had been three very interesting years. Two boards on the field where the Dig took place are all that remain.
Between 2004 and 2010 access paths and drainage work was carried out to the Broadhurst Clough to enhance the existing wetlands.
In 2011 the Council decided to lease the Broadhurst playing fields between Lightbowne Road and St Marys Road to a football club, FC United. This was to provide practice pitches and an all weather pitch for the club, who also wished to build a football stadium on adjacent Council owned land known as the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields (see Ronald Johnson page). Work started in November 2013 and was completed in May 2015.