THE roar of cannon fire, the rattle of muskets and the clash of sabres are just about the last sounds you might expect to hear on a relaxing afternoon in the park.

But in the summer of 1990 Heaton Park took a bloody step back in time for two spectacular battle re-enactments straight from the pages of history.

The first saw 10,000 spectators witness a two-hour battle between the Cavaliers and Roundheads.

Re-enactors from the Sealed Knot Society brought the Battle of Manchester from the English Civil Wars to the natural amphitheatre around Pope's monument.

Pikes and swords clattered as the infantry duelled in a fierce melee, while artillery boomed and dashing cavalry galloped across the verdant parkland; enthralling onlookers.

Three-and-a-half centuries earlier, Lancashire and Manchester had been the location of some of the very first clashes in the internecine conflicts which ravaged Great Britain, and ultimately saw the fall of King Charles I and his absolutist monarchism, and the predominance of Parliament under Cromwell's shortlived Republican Commonwealth.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: English Civil Wars battle re-enactment at Heaton Park in 1990English Civil Wars battle re-enactment at Heaton Park in 1990

During the English Civil Wars Manchester was a pro-Parliamentarian stronghold, while Lancashire sided with the King.

This set brother against brother and fathers against sons as the lines were drawn between nobles and commoners, papists and protestants, and royalists and parliamentarians.

Thankfully on this occasion there was not quite so much at stake.

And when the dust settle after the Heaton Park clash the re-enactors and visitors had raised £17,000 for Barnardo's North Western Fund.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: English Civil Wars battle re-enactment at Heaton Park in 1990English Civil Wars battle re-enactment at Heaton Park in 1990

Later that year the smell of gunpowder and the thunder of gunfire again assailed the senses of visitors to the park.

This time the backdrop was thousands of miles away on the other side of the Atlantic as the American Civil War was brought to life.

Yankees and Rebels drew their muskets and fired their cannons as they gave people a taste of fierce fighting from a major engagement in 1862.

The battle was dubbed the 'Pristine Furnace' as so much gun powder was used the air was said to be like a smoking inferno.

But the battle was not the only the only side of the Civil War on display that day.

Visitors could also see recreations of the living conditions of soldiers and their families in tents equipped with authentic utensils and artefacts.

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: Re-enactment of the American Civil War Battle of Pristine Furnace at Heaton Park in 1990.Re-enactment of the American Civil War Battle of Pristine Furnace at Heaton Park in 1990.

Despite its distance, the American Civil War was felt keenly in Bury and Lancashire in the mid 19th century, although thankfully the effects in Britain were largely bloodless.

As the world centre of textile manufacturing the region was reliant on cotton imports from the Southern United States.

When these states seceded to form the Confederacy they engaged in an economic boycott to try and forced British support, before they were blockaded by the Union Navy.

The collapse in the stock supply precipitated a cotton famine and devastating economic depression in which many workers were left unemployed and became some of the most destitute in the country.

But despite their hardship and worsening impoverishment, the cotton workers stood fast and in December 1862 met in Manchester to declare their support for the Union and against slavery.

Just as before, however, the re-enactors at Heaton Park, from the Civil War Society, were less concerned with fighting for their states and slavery and were instead thinking of the welfare of sick children and their parents, as they fundraised thousands of pounds for the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Intensive Care Development Foundation.