Ronald Johnson Fields is a rare, beautiful and treasured piece of green space in heart of the town of Moston, North Manchester. Situated within the larger Broadhurst Fields which includes Broadhurst Clough and directly between Saint Mary’s Road and Lightbowne Road it has been for many years a welcome escape for the people of Moston and the surrounding area.
Donated to the people of Moston in the 1920s and formally opened on the 17th June, 1922, the fields quickly became central to the community of Moston as there are to this day, playing host to many events including football matches, fairs, sport and celebratory events and in the 1980s speed way style biking for which a small track was built.
The fields are named after Captain Ronald Lindsay Johnson who was the chairman of the notable company Johnson, Clapham & Morris’ Wire Works who were based on Grey Mare Lane and were wire workers & fabricators in the 18th, 19th and 20th century, producing amongst other things safety lamps for miners, which would have been used in the nearby Moston Pit which was mined from 1840 until the 1950s and which changed this once small rural town, very similar to how Daisy Nook looks today, to one shaped by rapid population growth and industrialization.
Captain Ronald Lindsay Johnson died in the summer of 1917 whilst serving in the Royal Field Artillery in WW1. He was 28 years old. Only a year earlier his Cambridge educated brother, William Morton Johnson had also been killed whilst serving in the army in July 1916. He was aged 34 and was the chairman of the Johnson, Clapham & Morris’ Wire Works.
The Johnson’s were primarily drawn to Moston as they saw opportunities in the new age of industry and there was money to be made for well educated young men.
Having been raised in the leafy environment of Woodleigh on Bradgate Road in Dunham Massay, it must have been s equally shocking as well as exciting to see a small town such as Moston being rapidly transformed and shaped by industry and industrialization and yet they must have known that their upbringing was very fortunate and privileged, unlike that of many of their workers and the community of Moston who for many wouldn’t get the chance to see green fields and to breath air not polluted by dust from the coal pit.
And whilst their company prospered they must have felt duty bound to try and help the people who had helped make them rich and so out of philanthropy of the Johnson family, they purchased a large plot of land in Broadhurst Fields for the people of Moston and placed a covenant on the land that it could only ever be used for recreation, as all around them they must have become very aware and understood that whilst industrialization brought jobs and opportunities and for them great wealth, it destroyed much of what was once rural land.
And so in 2011, Ronald Johnson Fields remains as a tribute to the Johnson family and as a potent reminder what much of Moston looked like only 150 years ago and as a rare green oasis in an otherwise concrete and brick environment.
Let not forget FC United of Manchester plans to take this away from Moston and build their own 5000 seater stadium on it.
The plans can been seen at the following link: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/egov_downloads/Item_5_Ronald_Johnson_PLayig_Fields.pdf