Laticrete’s pivotal role in major improvements to Manchester’s famous Piccadilly Gardens

Laticrete’s pivotal role in major improvements to Manchester’s famous Piccadilly Gardens

By Michelle Costigan, Laticrete UK

Laticrete 254 Platinum Adhesive and Spectralock Pro Premium Grout have been used successfully at the new water fountain in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester.

Laticrete 254 Platinum Adhesive was used to fix the granite around the water jets and Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Grout was used in the granite joints.

Laticrete 254 Platinum Adhesive is the ultimate polymer modified thin set adhesive, requiring the addition of water only. It has exceptional high shear bond strengths with unsurpassed adhesion and workability exceeding the EN 12004 Classification – C2 TE S1, making it the ideal choice for internal or external applications especially swimming pools, facades and water features.

Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Grout is a three component easy to mix, apply and wash off epoxy grout, designed for use in areas where a high performance, durable grout is required. Making it ideal for use in water fountains and swimming pools or in any internal/external project where a premium grout is required.

Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Grout offers excellent colour uniformity with added stain protection, providing a consistent long-lasting finish. Classified RG according to EN 13888.

The work was completed early this year by The Fountain Company Ltd in Glossop, Derbyshire, who is committed to providing a complete and professional service to meet the demands of the client.

The company has a dedicated team of experienced engineers offering help and support at all stages and on every aspect in the development of water feature projects throughout the UK and overseas.

In addition to installing the new water feature, Stephen Croft, Director of The Fountain Company was asked to undertake some repair work to the surrounding area of the installation which was carried out 15 years ago.

Stephen Croft says: “The client is very happy with the current installation and I will certainly not hesitate to use Laticrete products again on this and future projects.  The adhesive did an excellent job of fixing the granite and the grout joints look as good today as the day they were filled.”

The water fountain itself consists of 176 jets reaching up to two metres high and four large jets reaching up to six metres, which is spectacularly lit up at night.

For many years, Piccadilly Gardens has been the heart of Manchester city centre.  It is a heavily used key public space with a footfall of around 310,000 people a week; around 16 million people a year. Piccadilly Gardens is the central hub of Manchester’s public transport system for buses and the Metrolink tram system. The square is only five minutes’ walk from the mainline Manchester Piccadilly railway station and 10 minutes’ walk from Manchester Victoria railway station.

At a contract cost of around £10 million, the redevelopment of the Gardens has provided a more attractive and welcoming area in Manchester City Centre. The new pavilion building with family restaurants and cafe bars has proved to be very popular.

Piccadilly Gardens has a rich history, before 1755 the area was occupied by water-filled clay pits called ‘The Daub Holes’, the Lord of the Manor donated the site and the pits were replaced by a fine ornamental pond.

In 1755, Manchester Royal Infirmary was built on the site, the street it stood on was then called Lever’s Row, which continued south east as ‘Piccadilly’
It even housed a psychiatric hospital built in 1763 next to the Manchester Royal Infirmary, however this was moved in 1849 to Cheadle which is now Cheadle Royal Hospital.

In 1908 The Manchester Royal Infirmary moved to its current site on Oxford Road.

Then in 1914, after several years in which the Manchester Corporation tried to decide how to develop the site, it was left unoccupied and made into the largest open green space in the city centre.  It had a sunken garden in the middle which was a remnant of the hospital’s basement with beautiful flower borders and seating areas overlooking the ornamental pond.

It wasn’t until 2001-2003 that the redevelopment of the site into Piccadilly Gardens took place.  The city council set up an international competition in 1998 for the redesign of Piccadilly Gardens.  The winners were the landscape architects EDAW and its partners, consisting of: the engineers Arup; renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando; local architects Chapman Robinson; and lighting engineer, Peter Fink.

The resulting space was radically different from the old gardens, and the only links to the past that remained were the original statues. The redesign was part of the massive construction process that covered Manchester in the build-up to the city hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Previously the square was becoming increasingly run down and was considered unsafe.

Problems with the water feature’s main pump meant the much-loved attraction was out of action for some months, but an intensive repair programme, that began in September 2016, has now finished and the fountain is back in full working order.

The massive operation required the two colossal water tanks to be completely removed and replaced, along with major repairs to the fountain’s plant room.

This required the broken machinery to be lifted out and a significant amount of earth removal works to give access to the water feature’s system.

“Manchester City Centre and Piccadilly Gardens have had many changes over the past years.  However, I am sure you will agree the new water feature and surrounding areas make it a pleasure to visit and Laticrete is proud to have played a part in improving this great city,” says Laticrete’s Michelle Costigan.

Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s city centre spokesperson, said: “It would be easy to underestimate the massive scale of the repair project.  We’ve had to dig more than 10 metres below the surface to remove the huge machinery hidden under the Gardens.

“It’s hugely exciting to see fountain flow again.  The fountain is a huge draw in the city centre and is fantastic to have it back.”

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