Friday 16th September

The last day of the dig! Yesterday we finished the excavation of all the features we are investigating this year, and today’s task was the final recording: drawing plans and sections, taking levels, filling in context sheets and sorting out the finds. It was all hands on deck for a final clean for photography, before the mammoth section drawing in Tr. 1 could begin, and we worked through tea break and most of lunch to finish everything by 1.10pm – only 10 minutes after we planned!. Well done everyone!

Throughout yesterday and today, we were very lucky to have the support of Andy Gay from Manchester Contract Department, and his team: Dave Price, Martin Hussey, Andy Mulcahy and Brian Grayson. Dave brought his ‘cherry picker’ to provide us with some first class site photographs, enabling us to photograph the whole of Tr. 1 from an elevated viewpoint. We also took a photo of the site team! We then watched gratefully as Andy Mulcahy, the JCB driver, saved us hours of back-breaking work back-filling the trenches, overseen and directed by Martin. Brian meanwhile, used his years of knowledge to tell us about some exciting features he had come across whilst replacing aspects of the park infrastructure… he even brought his metal detector along! Throughout the project, we have been advised, supported and inspired by the Park team… Kylie Ward (Central Area Parks Manager), Ria Page (Whitworth Park Warden), and her colleague, Dave Delaney. Further staff support and fencing was provided through ‘Parks and Open Spaces’, part of ‘Events, Leisure and Tourism’ in Manchester. We have been extremely fortunate to be supported throughout by the Manchester City Council, and we were particularly delighted to welcome Councillor Mike Amesbury (Executive Member for Culture and Leisure) to the site, who spent a couple of hours sharing our discoveries. However, none of this would have been possible without the Friends of Whitworth Park, in particular, Chairman and (it turns out!) accomplished digger, Ken Shone, as well as the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. To all of these people, we owe our grateful thanks.

 

 Hannah takes the final photos from Dave’s cherry picker, and Andy backfills Tr.1, under the watchful eye of Martin

 After a late lunch, the team divided into two: one to ferry finds, tools and records back to the Department, and the other to complete the backfilling and re-turfing. The heavens opened and it was muddy, tiring, wet work. Thanks especially the final hard-core team who finished on-site at 6.30pm. Some of us enjoyed an end-of-dig drink and meal together – a festive send-off for a successful first season.

The site team 2011 in Tr. 1: Whitworth Park

Next year we will be back, to explore the lake underneath the paddling pool, find more of the bandstand, and discover the original land surface under the artificial mound. If we have time, we will also explore some of the other interesting historic features of the Park. Once more, we will be running schools events, receiving community volunteers, and hosting an Open Day. In between then and now, we will be working on the finds and the records (post-excavation), producing reports, giving talks and conducting more oral history. If you have memories ofWhitworthPark, however recent they may seem, please do let us know! And if you have comments about the Project, the Blog or things you would like to see in the future, please leave us a comment…

Ruth Colton, on behalf of The Whitworth Park History and Archaeology Project Team

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