Whitworth Gardens (also known as Sackville Park) in Manchester, England, is bounded by the Manchester College Shena Simon Campus on one side and Whitworth Street, Sackville Street and the Rochdale Canal and Canal Street on the others. The land was purchased by Manchester Corporation in 1900 and laid out with walks, lawns and flower beds. It was planned as a complement to the new building, the Municipal College of Technology.
The park contains the Alan Turing memorial statue, which depicts the "father of modern computing" sitting on a bench at a central position in the park. The park was chosen because, "It's got the university science buildings ... on one side and its got all the gay bars on the other side, where apparently he spent most of his evenings".
The statue was unveiled on 23 June, Turing's birthday, in 2001. It was conceived by Richard Humphry, a barrister from Stockport, who set up the Alan Turing Memorial Fund in order to raise the necessary funds. Humphry had come up with the idea of a statue after seeing Hugh Whitemore's play Breaking the Code starring the actor Sir Derek Jacobi, and Jacobi became the patron of the fund. Glyn Hughes, an industrial sculptor from Adlington near Westhoughton, was commissioned to sculpt the statue. The Fund eventually raised around £15,000, which was far short of the £50,000 needed to have the statue cast in Britain. No major computer company donated to the fund, which was, according to the sculptor, because Turing was not American. The statue was cast in China.
Turing is shown holding an apple—a symbol classically used to represent forbidden love, as well as being the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the object that inspired Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation, and the means of Turing's own death. The cast bronze bench carries in relief the text 'Alan Mathison Turing 1912-1954', and the motto 'Founder of Computer Science' as it would appear if encoded by an Enigma machine: 'IEKYF ROMSI ADXUO KVKZC GUBJ'.
A plinth at the statue's feet says 'Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice'. There is also a Bertrand Russell quotation saying 'Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.' The sculptor buried his old Amstrad computer, which was an early popular home computer, under the plinth, as a tribute to "the godfather of all modern computers". .
Beacon of Hope
The park also contains the "Beacon of Hope", which is the UK's only permanent memorial for people who have, or have suffered from, HIV/AIDS. The sculpture, a decorated steel column designed by Warren Chapman and Jess Boyn-Daniel, was erected in the year 2000.
On World AIDS Day a candlelight vigil generally takes place at the Beacon. For several years the vigil, the traditional closing event of the Manchester Pride LBGT celebration weekend, had been held at the city's Castlefield Arena, but because of the siting of the beacon, it was decided that the vigil should be held in the gardens. Following a highly successful event in 2002, organised by the Village Business Association, George House Trust took control of the vigil for Europride in 2003, in collaboration with Manchester City Council and local HIV/AIDS groups such as Body Positive North West, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and the Black Health Agency. George House Trust now run the vigil annually at Manchester Pride.
- see "Sci/Tech Computer's inventor snubbed by industry". BBC. 1999-04-28. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
- see "Computer buried in tribute to genius". Manchester Evening News. 2001-06-15. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- Manchester City Council's Leisure Department's page for the park
- Glyn Hughes' page on the Turing memorial sculpture
- Sci/Tech Computer's inventor snubbed by industry (BBC News story)
- Computer buried in tribute to genius (Manchester Evening News story)