Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/45

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OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

owes what I may call its open formation first to the irregularity of its seventeenth century nucleus, which in its turn is partly due to the river, and secondly to a very marked element of dignity in the schemes of those who in the eighteenth century controlled the town's rapid development.

The map of 1650 shows an irregular village, approached on the right bank of the Irwell by the roads from Broughton and Preston, which united at the bridge near the collegiate church, and on the other bank by the Altrincham or Chester Road (Deansgate) and those from Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton and London. Clearly, at that date, development was taking the usual historic course of lining the road sides and leaving country spaces between them, for there were gardens between Deansgate and the river and hedge-rows between Shudehill and Millgate. But the advance of a hundred and forty years shows a remarkable change of tactics. The plan of 1793 assures us that so far from continuing the wasteful process of following the main roads with houses and leaving the interstices to the care of themselves, the citizens of Manchester had boldly grasped the necessities of their case and had set to work so to lay out their land as to afford very complete and general occupation as well as a ready intercommunication.

I now come to the subject of open spaces, and on this topic have two things to say. First, and briefly, as to open spaces in the central parts of towns. There can be no question as to the value of these—from the aesthetic and the hygienic point of view. Most corporations appreciate the