Manchester UK




Code of Ethics
Contact Papillon Graphics
Privacy Policy
Site Map

Photos by John Moss

Manchester’s Municipal, Civic & Public Buildings

Nineteenth century Manchester saw
the emergence of a new ruling elite – the self-made businessman and
the textile industrialist millionaire. These nouveaux riches
– men with money and influence, eagerly sought not only economic,
but political power. After the Municipal Charter of 1838, these “city
fathers” (as they liked to be called) were given the opportunity
to create a fully fledged advanced city with all the trappings of
a civilised metropolis. They did it in a grand manner. In 1845 Manchester
began to create public parks; in 1851 an Act of Parliament authorised
the introduction of a half penny rate to create public libraries and
museums; later came free hospitals for the treatment of the poor,
the introduction of underground sewers and various Planning Acts to
improve the living conditions of its people. There was an immense
and ever growing sense of civic pride in the city – nowhere more in
evidence than in Warehouse’s exuberant Town Hall, whose floors are
decorated with mosaic bees, symbol of the industry which had created
the wealth to make the modern city possible. What follows are some
of the best examples of Manchester’s civic buildings.

The Manchester Buildings

Town Hall Extension

On completion of the Central Reference Library
in St Peter’s Square in 1934, work began immediately on constructing
the Town Hall Extension. Designed by Vincent Harris, as a result of
an open competition, (he had also designed the Library next door),
it was to be eight storeys high and intended to house various growing
municipal departments including gas, electricity, rates, rents, street
cleaning, etc, and a cinema with demonstration rooms beneath ground

Manchester Town Hall and Town Hall Extension Bridge over Lloyd StreetCentral Library and Manchester Town Hall ExtensionManchester Town Hall Extension
Left: Bridges over Lloyd Street connect the Town Hall to the Extension
Centre: The Extension and Central Library with Metrolink Tram.
Right: The Town Hall Extension from St Peter’s Square.

Its 200 foot southern wall was curved to parallel
the Library next door, separated by the Library Walk between. Many
authorities reckon this to be Harris’s best work. It also includes
a large council chamber at first floor level.
The total cost of the building was £750,000 and it was opened
officially by King George VI in 1938. A commemoration in the form
of a carved inset stone on the library side at the Mount Street end
marks the occasion. The extension is connected by two covered bridges
to the main Town Hall building.
Stylistically, the building is Gothic in character, with heavy masonry,
deep pierced ornately carved tracery effects, and a typically steeply
pitched roof, yet interpreted in a modern style in Darley Dale stone.
Internally it has stained glass windows by George Kruger Gray, which
represent ancient Lancastrian Coats of Arms.

Victoria University of

The University began life under the name of Owens
College, the original quadrangle block commissioned in 1869, and designed
Alfred Waterhouse, who had
been responsible for many other buildings in Manchester.

Main Entrance to the University of Manchester Owens Buildin g

After various other name changes, it became the
Victoria University in 1880. (Nowadays, the “Victoria” is
dropped). From then until the outbreak of the Fist World War it saw
considerable expansion, followed by many years of inter-war stagnation
before the boom of the 1960s which saw a revival in its fortunes and
a more-or-less constant expansion since then.
Waterhouse’s original building on Oxford Road, still forms the heart
of the main campus, despite many extensions and other buildings added
all around it over subsequent years. Work was not actually completed
until 1902, and was completed by his son, Paul (as the Refuge
Assurance Building
had been). It was built in the then fashionable
modern Gothic style. The later phase of building included the addition
of the Museum and the Beyer Laboratories from 1883-87. Later, Paul
Waterhouse completed the Christie Library between 1895 and 1898, and
the Whitworth Hall, completed in 1902. Paul Waterhouse went on later
to add extensions to the Manchester Museum from 1911-27, the later
part completed by Michael Waterhouse. Other additions include the
Botanical Laboratory in 1911, and the John Morley Laboratories in
1909, both by Paul Waterhouse. Further later extensions included the
Physics Laboratory designed by J W Beaumont in 1900-01, the New Physics
Laboratory by Percy Scott Worthington in 1930-31, and the Dental School
by Hubert Worthington in 1939-40

Reform Club

Designed by Edward Solomons and John Philpot-Jones
in 1870-71, the Reform Club in King Street was the last to be built
in the popular so-called Venetian Gothic style.

The Manchester Reform Club, King Street

It comprises three storeys topped by a balustraded
parapet and with corner rounded gable end towers with lanterns and
spires. The windows of the first floor have small balconies, with
a larger balcony over the main ground floor entrance. Marble lined
state-of-the-art lavatories were installed in the 1890s. Inside is
a grand staircase with wood panelling climbing up to the second floor
billiard room. It was here that the city’s gentry escaped to sample
privacy, quietude and the fellow company of other like-minded men.

Former Mechanics’ Institute Building

In 1854 the architect John Edgar Gregan was commissioned
to build the new Mechanics’ Institute at 103 Princess Street – it
was intended to be a centre of learning and education for the ‘educable
working classes’. It was to be Gregan’s last work.

Manchester's former Mechanics Institute Building

The Institute had already been in existence since
1825 in a premises in Cooper Street, but the new building was to mark
the growing success of the venture. Workmen, ranging from shopkeepers
to labourers, could attend evening classes to study English, grammar,
writing, reading, arithmetic and Latin, as well as several foreign
languages and music.
The building is in the palazzo style , common in the
in the vicinity of Portland Street, and stands out as superior to
most of those that followed. It has three tall storeys with a basement
and hidden attic storey behind a balustrade. It is built in red brick
with stone string courses and semicircular pediments over the first
floor windows. Later it became the Museum
of Labour History,
which subsequently moved to the Pumphouse –
now the Peoples’ History Museum,
though it still contains many labour history archives which are available
for inspection by special permission.

Hall, Albert Square

On the corner of Albert Square and Southmill Street
stands the Memorial Hall. It was designed and built by
in 1863-66.

Memorial Hall, Albert Square, Manchester

Described as a brick and stone clad building of
Venetian Gothic style with distinctive stone tracery on all windows
and a decidedly palatial exterior. The building was originally a commemoration
of the secession of Nonconformist clergy in 1662. The ground floor
was always intended as a commercial space, available to any concern
that was prepared to pay the rent – now a pub (The Square Albert).
Worthington designed this two colour building after his second tour
of Italy in 1858, and this is thought to be the main influence in
his design.

Masonic Hall, Bridge Street

The Masonic Hall was designed by Percy Scott Worthington
in 1929. This Grade II Listed building is in Portland Stone and won
the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal for Worthington
in 1930.

Manchester Masonic L:odge, Bridge Street

Externally it is rather plain and forbidding, with
its rusticated ground floor and severe sheer walls rising two floors,
and relieved only by the square cut windows. A low balustraded balcony
is cantilevered out over the ground floor entrance. However, its interior
is a joyous affair in the Neo-classical style with a huge coffered
barrel vaulted ceiling supported on elegant Ionic columns.

Google Search

Custom Search

Animated Papillon Graphics Butterfly Logo
Papillon Graphics


© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 1 Dec 11.