The Architectural Heritage of Manchester

Manchester can trace its origins way back to Roman times, and the city has many fine buildings from all periods of history and architecture. In many ways, Manchester’s buildings give visible evidence to its history, as well as to its regional identity, its social, economic and cultural growth over the years.

A short walk through the city reveals the evident rapid growth and development that took place during the Victorian era of the nineteenth century.

This was when Manchester grew up and came into its own.

Manchester CathedralMinshull Street Police StationRear of Town HallUrbis, Museum of the Modern City
Manchester Cathedral, Minshull Street Police Station, Manchester Town Hall and the Urbis Museum.

The fabulous palatial mill and warehouse buildings, offices, libraries and other civic buildings show immense civic pride. They show self-confidence. This was the city that demanded to be recognised – it was the first truly industrialised city – it was where the Industrial Revolution began. The City of Manchester enjoyed both wealth and political power by the end of the nineteenth century – the growth of expensive and highly ornate banking halls in King Street demonstrates this.

But there have also been 20th century masterpieces too. The Central Reference Library in St Peter’s Street and the neighbouring Town Hall Extensions demonstrate the determination of the city fathers to improve the civic amenities of the city. Later, award winning buildings in the banking zone, and recently, the erection of fine new bridges across
rivers, canals and roadways.

Comment should also be made of the City Council’s imaginative thinking on the refurbishment of old, (and often derelict) buildings. It is heart-warming to see old beloved buildings rising Pheonix-like again into current use, often in new and imaginative reincarnations – the Corn Exchange became the Triangle, Watts Warehouse becomes a hotel, Joshua Hoyle’s fine warehouse converted into the Malmaison Hotel in Piccadilly.

All these evidence a city which is in a state of constant renewal and reinvention – a city that is alive, organic and growing.

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