First Street honours city’s cultural heritage

Manchester City Council and Ask Property Developments have announced their naming strategy for the streets and squares at the First Street site, including Tony Wilson Place and James Grigor Square.

The selection of names represents Manchester's creative pioneers who helped shape the culture of the city. The development partners said: "The streets, squares and avenues that will make up the First Street development will showcase the spirit of the people who have made a significant contribution to Manchester through sheer talent, philanthropy and love for their city."

The first phase of the naming strategy encompasses the north of the site around the Number One First Street office building and new arts centre HOME.

The names are:

  • Tony Wilson Place
  • Jack Rosenthal Street
  • Isabella Banks Street
  • Annie Horniman Street
  • James Grigor Square

See below for biographies

John Hughes, managing director of Ask, said: "More than most cities, Manchester has a long history of inventiveness, with many firsts and famous people who have shaped the city and its culture. It was impossible for us to recognise every Manchester son and daughter within the development, so instead we have tried to create a suite of names that not only work well together but that showcase Manchester's rich creative history, names that join the past and the present, with a mix of well-known celebrities alongside some perhaps lesser known personalities which carry weight and substance."

The current phase of the First Street scheme, scheduled to complete in spring 2015, comprises the first Innside hotel in the UK, a Q-Park multi-storey car park, high-end student apartments, Vita student apartments, retail and leisure units, and a public square. All these elements sit alongside the £25m cultural venue HOME, formed by the merger of Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company.

Cllr Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "There has, for instance, been considerable debate over how to pay tribute to Tony Wilson and we believe a prominent new square – within a stone's throw of the former Hacienda site – is entirely appropriate. All the people commemorated in this naming strategy have made their own mark on Manchester and it's fitting they will be honoured in this way."Lead contractor for the scheme is Carillion, with Wates Construction responsible for HOME.

The biographies for the people being commemorated at the First Street scheme are as follows:

Tony Wilson

Anthony Howard Wilson was a popular television presenter, music mogul, football fanatic and promoter of Mancunian culture.

Born in Salford in 1950, Wilson attended De La Salle Grammar school and developed a love of literature and language, which he cultivated throughout his early life, later graduating with an English degree from Cambridge University.

After graduation, he began his career as a news reporter for ITN, which later commissioned his own 'What's On' section for Granada Reports. This eventually resulted in Wilson gaining his own stand-alone TV show So It Goes, which covered regional music, culture and events.

Unsatisfied with the state of the British music scene, Wilson turned his hand to the field – managing several bands and co-founding Factory Records, which catered for legendary bands like the Happy Mondays, Joy Division and New Order. He also founded and managed the Hacienda night club, as well as Dry Bar.

Jack Rosenthal

Jack Morris Rosenthal was a prolific playwright, composing more than 150 screenplays, original TV plays, feature films and adaptations, as well as penning 129 episodes of the ITV soap opera Coronation Street.

Born in Cheetham Hill's Jewish community, Rosenthal studied English Literature at Sheffield University before carrying out National Service in the Royal Navy. In addition to his stint on Coronation Street, he contributed to several comedy shows, including That Was The Week That Was.

Isabella Banks

Isabella Varley Banks, also known as Mrs G. Linnaeus Banks or Isabella Varley, was a 19th century English poet and novelist. She is most widely-remembered for her biography of Jabez Clegg, which was published in 1876.

One of her first forays into poetry came to light when the Manchester Guardian published A Dying Girl to her Mother in 1837. Her inaugural collection of poems, Ivy Leaves, was published in 1844 and her most renowned work, The Manchester Man, was first serialised in Cassell's Magazine prior to being published in three volumes in 1876.

Annie Horniman

Theatre manager and patron Annie Elizabeth Fredericka Horniman established the first regional repertory theatre company in Britain at the Gaiety Theatre in Manchester. She was a key driver behind the work of writers and playwrights, such as W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and members of what later became known as the Manchester School of Dramatists.

Horniman later discovered a talent for theatre administration – developing a disused property into the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904. Following a move to Manchester, she purchased and renovated the Gaiety Theatre in 1908, putting on a range of classic plays and newly-introduced works from contemporary playwrights.

James Grigor

Chairman of the Central Manchester Development Corporation from 1988, Dr James Grigor was one of the key drivers behind the city's renaissance. He enjoyed a lengthy tenure in the position for eight years, during which time he oversaw numerous projects and helped the CMDC exceed its £200m investment target, attracting £500m of mainly private sector investment.

After the corporation was wound up in 1996, Grigor went on to gain appointments as chairman of the Royal Northern College of Music, chairman of Manchester Science Park and chairman of the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry.

Your Comments

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I’m very pleased to see Dr Grigor got the recognition for his contribution to Manchester. He will always be in my heart and thoughts, an absolute pleasure to have known him.

By Gill Farrimond

I hardly think that Tony Wilson deserves to be at the top of the list given the others on there! Hopefully that was just a fluke!

By shocked

Half of Manchester’s regeneration wouldn’t have happened without the music boom in the 1980s and 1990s and Tony Wilson made that happen.


CG – which half?

By mancboi

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