Manchester's Memorials Walking Tour

Even the rapidly modernising city of Manchester still bears the legacy of those fateful five years of the First World War, with memorials to the city's workers and residents scattered around the landmarks of the city centre. This walking tour will lead you around the city, viewing a selection of those memorials and will share the stories of some of the names that are recorded. The route is circular, starting and finishing at Piccadilly Station. The total walking distance is 2.5 miles.

Piccadilly Station

From the main concourse walk through the entryway between platforms 9 and 10. The memorial will be straight ahead of you, in front of the shop.

This memorial, dedicated to the London and North Western Railway Company, was unveiled in May of this year to replace a previous monument that had been lost in station renovations. It bears the names of 87 men who worked for the railway company in Manchester. Among them is Harry Cohen, a goods porter from Collyhurst who died with the Borders Regiment in France in October 1917; Wilfred T Lorton, a clerk who served with the Manchesters and fell 22 days before the Armistice; and Harry Pickup, a carter from Ancoats who had also served in the Regular Army with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He fell in September 1914 at the Battle of the Marne.

After leaving the station through its main entrance, proceed down the ramp and then straight over onto Piccadilly. The walk to Victoria Station is just under one mile. Continue straight over at the next junction across Piccadilly Gardens and onto Market Street (between Primark and Debenhams). After passing the Arndale Shopping Centre on your right, turn right onto Corporation Street. After passing the National Football Museum on your left (the glass ‘ski slope’ building), bear left onto Victoria Station Approach. The train station is then on your right.

Victoria Station

Enter through the south entrance to the station and turn right. The first memorial is opposite the Java coffee shop.

This memorial is significant as not only does it remember those who died fighting in the First World War, but also ‘the many thousands’ who passed through the station on their way to the war. In the 2015 station renovations the inlay was added to the entryway which depicts the size and location of notable Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. It should be noted that this is a general representation and does not depict where the men of Manchester are remembered on the battlefields.

Turn around and walk across the station concourse, past the ticket booths. To your left, by the more northern entrance, is the next memorial.

Now the Manchester hub station of Northern Rail, Victoria Station used to connect the city with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. This memorial, below the preserved map of the network, is dedicated to all of the company’s workers who died in the First World War. More than 1,000 of the company’s workers fell in the war; workers from across the north of England who had been released from their employer’s contracts in order to serve in the war effort. In their stead more than 4,000 women were employed to maintain the running of the railway.

Female ticket collectors at Victoria Station (source)

If you believe you have a connection to any of the men on the memorial, the National Railway Museum has an online database of workers who fell in the Great War.  It can be searched here.

Manchester Cathedral

After leaving the station, turn right onto Hunt’s Bank. At the junction with the A56 turn left and then proceed to the pedestrianised Victoria Street. You should see the cathedral in front of you. The entrance is on the far side. Take your time to explore the cathedral. The regimental chapel is on the north side.

The Manchester Regiment chapel had destroyed in a Blitz raid of 23rd December, 1940. After the war it was rebuilt by Sir Hubert Worthington who had previously served as a captain with the Manchesters in the First World War. He had led A Company of the 16th battalion over the top at the Somme on the 1st July 1916 where he was severely injured and had to hide overnight in a shell hole. 
Following the war he returned to architecture, designing the war memorial for his alma mater Sedbergh School. After the Second World War, in addition to his work on Manchester Cathedral, he was a principle architect for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, working on the Egypt and North Africa memorials. Throughout his career he had been inspired by the Commission’s original chief architects of Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. Worthington died in 1963 and there is a memorial plaque in his memory on the north wall.

The Fire Window at the chapel’s East End is dedicated in memory of the Blitz, although it was installed more than a decade after Worthington had completed his structural repairs. Margaret Traherne designed the window in 1966.

The chapel now serves as the Regimental Chapel of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment which is an amalgamation of the previous Manchester, Queen’s Lancashire and King’s Own Royal Border Regiments. As you look towards the Fire Window, the rolls of honour and Regimental colours from the First World War are on your left. There are both display and readable copies of the rolls of honour.

After you leave the cathedral, turn left and then right onto Cathedral Gates (between The Mitre and The Old Wellington). Go straight ahead up the steps and onto New Cathedral Street (between Selfridges and Harvey Nichols). At the next junction go straight ahead again onto Exchange Street and follow on to St Ann’s Square. You will see St. Ann’s Church ahead of you. Stop off at the war memorial with the two soldiers atop.

Boer War Memorial

Take a brief pause here as this memorial is not First World War, but from the South African War of 1899-1902. It is often seen that the First World War was the first conflict for which other-ranked soldiers were commemorated on memorials by name, but, as this memorial shows, the trend began at the beginning of the century with the South African War. It is highly decorative and funded by public subscription, showing that there must have been big public demand for commemoration.

Continue through St. Ann’s Square to St. Ann’s Church.

St. Ann’s Church

As you walk in, turn left. There are two plaques on the wall to your left.

The first memorial you come to, bearing the dates 1914-1919, was originally located in St. James’ Church on George Street, near Chinatown. Following the closure of the church in 1928, the memorial was moved to St Ann’s so the men’s memory could live on.

At least four of the men – Longworth, Calardine, Higgins and Corlett – died in the final year of the war. Longworth, a Royal Scot, and Calardine, a territorial Manchester, both died in the German Spring Offensive in France in March 1918. They were both missing in action and are remembered on the Pozieres and Arras memorials respectively. Higgins also died in northern France, while being held by the Germans as a prisoner of war. He had previously been employed as a teacher in Manchester.
The last of the men to die was Corlett on 3rd December, 1918. Although he survived fighting in the war itself, he died of his wounds weeks after the Armistice. He is buried at Southern Cemetery.

The next memorial is dedicated to the parishioners of St. Ann’s Church. Among the names are the brothers John and William Blythe, who had both enlisted in the Manchester Regiment before John was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. The young men were aged 20 (William) and 17 (John) when they joined up. It was the younger brother who died first, of wounds sustained most likely on the Somme, in the summer of 1916. He is buried in Salford. The elder brother died the following February, killed in action on the same Somme fields.

Continue to explore St. Ann’s Church. If accessible, various regimental colours are hung on the balcony. When leaving the church, exit through the north door you entered through.
Turn left outside of the Church and then left again, walking south through the covered walkway, St. Ann’s Passage (between the opticians and Space.NK). Then continue directly across King Street (between Karen Millen and TM Lewin), before turning right onto South King Street. The next bit is a bit fiddly, but you are finding Manchester’s Hidden Gem! Turn left onto Bow Street, then right onto John Dalton, before turning left again onto Ridgefield. One more left turn onto Mulberry Street, when the entrance to the Hidden Gem will be on your left.

St. Mary’s – the Hidden Gem

When entering the church, the war memorial plaque is in the right hand corner, behind the pews.

This is central Manchester’s Catholic Church and its war memorial is dedicated to its parishioners. The three Devlins on the memorial are not brothers, although it is likely that they may have been more distantly related.

Frank Sharkey had been born in Belfast in 1883 but had moved to Manchester with his parents before he was ten years old and later worked alongside his father and brothers in a cotton warehouse. He joined the Territorial Army in 1908, but continued to work in the cotton industry until the outbreak of the First World War. He died while serving in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) where the Manchester Regiment had arrived in late 1915 to defend British garrisons from the Ottoman Empire, with the aim of protecting Britain’s oil supply from the Middle East.

Take a moment to view the church’s magnificently carved raredos before heading back out onto the street. Turn left and follow Mulberry Street round to the right (past Veeno) and then turn left onto Brazennose Street. At the end of the road cross over onto Albert Square and walk diagonally across the square to the right hand side of the Town Hall. Then turn left between the Town Hall and the Extension onto Lloyd Street (past the police station and public toilets on your right). This road is closed to through traffic. At the end of the path the Cenotaph will be straight in front of you.

The Manchester Cenotaph

The Manchester Cenotaph was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in the same style as the Whitehall Cenotaph in London that he had previously designed. It was erected in 1924 as a memorial to all the Manchester men who had died and was originally located on the site of the demolished St. Peter’s Church, at the opposite end of St. Peter’s Square in front of Central Library. It was moved in 2014 to make space for the tram expansions.

At the top of the Cenotaph there is a carved figure of a soldier, lying with his greatcoat over him. He serves as a symbol of all men, regardless of rank or regiment who fought and fell in the First World War.

Walk down Princess Street (A34) with Cafe Nero and the Manchester Art Gallery on your left. At the crossroads with the traffic lights turn left onto Portland Street. A short distance along this road you will find the Britannia Hotel, a large stone building (opposite Dawson’s music shop). The entrance you need is the double archway two-thirds of the way along, just before Bar Rogue. The war memorials are then just inside.

The Britannia Hotel

This grand building used to be the S &J Watts textile company, one of the city’s many profitable cotton businesses. In 1922 the company commissioned the bronze sentry statue to accompany the war memorial which bears the names of almost 100 workers who died in the First World War. There are subsequent memorials to the Second World War and Korean War which have been preserved by the hotel.

Among them was Richard Gaffney, who had previously been an apprentice at Watt’s. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment, as did Irving Hamer, who only turned 18 in 1915. Albert Lancashire had been an apprentice engineer before joining the army in the Cyclist Corps. He died of wounds sustained in service in 1917 and is buried at Dozinghem, west of Ypres.

To return to Piccadilly Station, where this tour started, turn right out of the hotel and then right again onto Minshull Street. Take the third left onto Auburn Street. At the end of the road cross over and then it is a slight left then right to continue on Auburn Street, past the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel. Crossover again onto Ducie Street and then turn right up the Station Approach ramp.

I hope this has tour has been an interesting look at the city's memorials. I have tried to keep it to the main centre, but please let me know if there are any memorials along the route that I have missed or if the instructions are not clear.



  1. Good historical tour of my hometown.

  2. Amazed to come across this site with new information about a relative of mine - Frank Sharkey whose name is recorded on the memorial in St Marys R C Church , Mulberry Street, Manchester. Frank (Francis as would have been baptised) was my late mothers uncle,(my Nannas brother). My mum was called Frances when she was born in 1920 in honour and memory of him-My nanna and mum often talked about the 'Devlin' family too that you mention. I'm amazed to see your information on him-Thank You!.