Marble 'halo' revealed in Manchester to commemorate 2017 Arena bombing

Manchester memorial

The 'halo' of Carrara marble called The Glade of Light that commemorates those who died in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

Photo: Manchester City Council

On 5 January a fence was removed from around a Carrara marble memorial to the 22 people who died in the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena in May 2017.

An official opening event is planned for the spring ahead of the fifth anniversary of the bombing.

The memorial, called The Glade of Light and described as a ‘halo’ of white marble about 25m across, and the garden in which it is located was designed by landscape architect BCA Landscape and creative agency Smiling Wolf.

The memorial is a bench, each section of which carries the name inset in brass of one of the people who died in the bombing, who included six children under 16, the youngest just eight.

At the intersection of each piece of marble is a roundel of marble with a bronze heart insert. It covers a stainless steel ‘memory capsule’ into which relatives of the deceased have placed momentos of the person who died.

The memorial forms a central focus of a Peace Garden between Manchester Cathedral and Chetham’s School of Music, at the foot of Fennel Street where it meets Victoria Street. The garden includes Johnsons Wellfield paving and Portuguese granite in different finishes supplied by Hardscape. The new Hardscape company, IP Surfaces, put the names and hearts into the memorial.

The garden features plants that grow naturally in the British countryside selected to provide year-round colour that changes with the seasons.

At the centre of the memorial is a hawthorn tree, chosen because its white blossom will appear each year at about the time of the anniversary of the bombing.

There are also two trees grown from cuttings at the sites of devastating events in other parts of the world – one from New York to commemorate the 12/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre; the other from Hiroshima in Japan, where the first nuclear bomb was dropped in 1945.

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We will never forget those whose lives were lost on 22 May 2017. They already had a permanent place in the hearts of Manchester people. Now they have a lasting memorial in the heart of our city. 

“The Glade of Light is a beautiful tribute to them and somewhere which will also have profound meaning for everyone affected by the attack. We hope the memorial site will be a place of peace and comfort, standing as a reminder that love is stronger than hate.”

There will be more about the Covid-imposed online selection of the marble for the memorial and the making of the memorial in the next issue of Natural Stone Specialist magazine.