A long-term archaeological project is now under way in the Cross Street area of Manchester city centre as part of Metrolink’s transformational Second City Crossing.
Ground investigations carried out along the alignment of the tram route found the remains of over 100 people, interred 150 to 200 years ago and affiliated to the Unitarian Church, on Cross Street. As they are within the footprint of the tramway, the bodies will be moved and reinterred in order for the new Metrolink line to be installed.
The Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service (GMAAS) at the University of Salford will be monitoring the fieldwork of CFA Archaeology Ltd and any discoveries of note from the site. The report of their findings will be placed on record at Manchester Central Library at the end of the project.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has been liaising closely with GMAAS, Manchester City Council, the church authorities and the Ministry of Justice in securing all the necessary approvals and permissions for this work.
The project is expected to take several months to complete and, as part of the process, a Public Notice was issued listing names and inviting any potential ancestors to come forward but, to date, none have.
Peter Cushing, TfGM’s Metrolink Director, said: “We fully recognise the duty of care involved – that is why we are following all statutory procedures and are working closely with church and archaeological officials to ensure this work is completed sensitively and respectfully.
“We will, of course, ensure that any work sites involved are secure and enclosed, out of respect for both the nature of the work and any residents or businesses in the immediate vicinity. All appropriate precautions will be followed.
“We are working very closely with church officials to ensure re-interments are carried out respectfully, and we hope that the history being uncovered will be of interest to the archaeological society.”