Friendship stories

Joan Hanif (left) and Tina Smith (right) share their story on behalf of Tin Pan Alley residents

Joan and Tina’s friendship story

Joan Hanif and Tina Smith are members of Tin Pan Alley Gardens. Over the years, this group of volunteers and residents in North Manchester have transformed an alleyway and made friendships along the way. They’ve written a poem (below) to tell their story.

We started working on the alleyway about 11 years ago. Before it was a garden, the alleyway was dirty and full of rubbish and bins.

“When we started, none of us had any previous gardening knowledge at all.”

We began with a few small pots, and over time the garden has grown through funding and hard work. Over the years, we’ve held jamming sessions, barbecues and birthday parties outside.

RHS judges and various other people gave us some advice on what to plant and we now enter an It’s Your Neighbourhood competition every year. Our volunteers have received various certificates and enjoy working on the gardens.

Before the alley was a garden, it was dirty and full of rubbish and bins

Local resident and volunteer Phil Hanif playing the guitar in Tin Pan Alley Gardens

“Tin Pan Alley Gardens currently have eight volunteers who do different work in the alleyway at times to suit their schedules. There is a great feeling of camaraderie, friendship and community.”

We’re based in Moston and Harpurhey, North Manchester. As the area has a fast turnover of residents, we regularly recruit new people to our group. We send out a flyer explaining who we are and what we do and inviting new residents to join in.

We can also supply new people with tools, brushes, hosepipes, plants and seeds if they are interested in getting involved in the gardens.

“We’d say to anyone out there thinking of starting a community gardening project, give it a go. You don’t know what you can do until you try.”

Friendships formed on the garden front

Down in Tin Pan Alley Gardens
Many friendships have been made
So many conversations spoken
Over a shovel and a spade

We are called Tin Pan Alley
Because of all the music made right here
Musicians who played and sang
Laughed together over a beer

Many friendships bloomed when the gardens were attended
Even though it was hard work
We thought that it was splendid

Planting and weeding in the morning
Cleaning in the afternoon
Sitting in the gardens after dark
Lit by the silvery moon

Philip singing songs he wrote
John on the harmonica
Steve singing to guitar
Someone strums and sings ra ra

Lance plays acoustic guitar
Ross plays on the bass
Adi drumming for everyone
Every note was in place

Mike another songwriter
Would also play along
Megs and Kenny, ladies too
We’re rocking to their songs

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