Princess Parkway
* images from Manchester Local Images Collection

Princess Parkway roundabout - 1960s

Princess Parkway Footbridge - 1970s

Princess Parkway Flyover under construction in the 1970s

Henlys Garage at the junction of Wythenshawe Road

Lady Sheena Simon (wife of Lord Simon), as Chair of the Wythenshawe Estates Special Committee, was very involved in the overall planning and conception of the landscaped Princess Parkway.

The first work on the construction of Princess Parkway was the drilling of four bore-holes in January 1929 to start the work on the new Princess Parkway Bridge. Prior to that, Princess Road extended from the city centre to Barlow Moor Road, where it continued for a short distance as Christ Church Avenue.

Because of the Great Depression of the time, grants were made toward Outdoor Relief Work for the unemployed (operated by the State, not by the Poor Law Unions, which had been superseded in 1929) and considerable use was made of this labour in the construction of the road.

The new road, built from Barlow Moor Road to Altrincham/Stockport Road, was officially opened with the new bridge over the River Mersey on February 1st 1932 by the Minister of Transport and renamed Princess Road. The section from the Mersey to Altrincham Road was called Princess Parkway, after Sheena Simon's recommendation, in April.

Princess Parkway was a beautiful garden city road, the pride of the people of Northenden and Wythenshawe. A letter dated 17 June 1937 to the Manchester Evening News proclaimed what many people felt about this road and the landscaping of its wide verges.

“Allow me to express my grateful sentiment towards the Parks Committee for the informal planting of large clumps and masses of wild briar roses. The scent of the leaves in the warm spring evening is really delightful and never sates. The single roses are now in bud, and in a few days Princess Parkway will be a riot of pink and white colour, set off by the greenswards, that are cut daily by a small mechanised army.”

In Barry Parker's original plan for Wythenshawe the Parkway was to be a pleasant road and a feeder to the garden city, not a way through. He wanted the Western Parkway to be the by-pass. But in October 1936 Manchester Corporation and Cheshire County Council were already thinking of extending the Princess Parkway to the city boundary in the north and through to Ollerton and Toft near Knutsford in the south. These plans were eventually incorporated in the 1945 Manchester Plan.

In 1974 Princess Parkway was enlarged and Kenworthy Hall was demolished to make way for the extension.

Of the proposed motorway treatment of the Parkway Harry Lloyd, the vociferous Chairman of the Wythenshawe Community Council (formed out of the Rackhouse, Royal Oak and Benchill Community Associations) commented, 'Apart from being a delight to the eye for visitors it would also be a sacrilege to destroy the Parkway. It is a picture by an artist and craftsman combined'. Protests rained down from all quarters and questions were raised in the House of Commons on the 'unnecessary bends in the road'. But work started and 50,000 trees and shrubs were torn up. There remained vestiges of the original greenery in the end, augmented by considerable replanting. Even so the Parkway has not returned to 'its landscaped beauty that was the pride of Wythenshawe and the envy of many other cities'. To some 'the road planned by Barry Parker and Mr. Meek, and encouraged by Lady Simon, is now just another urban motorway'; to others the spirit of Mr. Parker still shines through. Problems arose because the Parkway was also a major bus route.

Although there were well-grounded fears that the new M6 would put pressure on roads in the Altrincham area, the city council, in 1960, wanted to defer the extension of Princess Parkway to the south until 1971. It was in fact started in 1969 and cost £1,000,000 a mile. Only four years earlier 'a monstrosity of a footbridge' had been thrown across the Parkway near the Wythenshawe Road Junction.