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Architecture in Manchester, UK

Updated on September 17, 2016
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Matt is an avid traveller and self-confessed 'man of the world'. He is passionate about his home city, Manchester, and about travelling.

Modern Manchester City Centre

Manchester City Centre
Manchester City Centre

Manchester Architecture

Unlike many European cities, the north England city of Manchester doesn't have a particular style of architecture. However, up until the 20th century Manchester had a very specific style of architecture - mills, warehouses and Victorian terraced housing. All this started to change however during the early part of 20th Century Manchester: first, with the decline of industry in the early part of the 20th century; then with the destruction that resulted from World War 2; and then latterly from the devastating effects of an IRA bomb in 1996 that destroyed part of Manchester City Centre. The Manchester IRA bomb attack is now widely acknowledged is the catalyst for the new period of regeneration of the city centre.

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Manchester Town Hall

Serving as the administrative base for Manchester City Council, the local government organisation who run the city, the Victorian Manchester Town Hall was designed by renowned architect Alfred Waterhouse and was completed in 1877. It's a classic example of Victorian architecture and has been copied many times all over England and in former lands of the British Empire. Although difficult to comprehend, during the huge rebuilding programme in Manchester in the years and decades following the second world war, there was actually talk of plans to tear down Manchester Town Hall and build something more befitting of the time. Thankfully this never happened and the Town Hall in Manchester can still be enjoyed in all it's glory. Some of us are even lucky enough to work there. ;-)

Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall
Manchester Town Hall
Arches at the front of the Town Hall Extension
Arches at the front of the Town Hall Extension | Source

The Midland Hotel

Arguably the most famous hotel in Manchester, the Midland hotel is the setting in which a Mr Charles Stewart Rolls met a Mr Frederick Henry Royce and led to the formation of the Rolls-Royce motor company. It is alleged that Adolf Hitler, a keen architecture enthusiast, admired the Midland Hotel in Manchester so much that he ordered his men not to drop bombs around the Manchester Town Hall area so as not to damage the fine architecture of the Midland Hotel! The hotel was completed and opened in 1903 following the design of architect Charles Trubshaw, who was very much respected in architects' circles at that time. It was commissioned by the Midland Railway company to serve it's line between London and Manchester, the terminus of which is still located around the corner but is now used as one of the UK's leading conference centres. The Midland Hotel building is an excellent example of Edwardian Baroque architecture.

The Midland Hotel in Manchester

The Midland Hotel, Manchester
The Midland Hotel, Manchester | Source
(Back of) The Midland Hotel, Manchester
(Back of) The Midland Hotel, Manchester | Source

Gorton Monastery

Originally used as a Friary by the Franciscan Monks, Gorton Monastery is now used for corporate events, conferences and community events thanks to a £6million funding package from English Heritage, the National Lottery fund and the European Regional Development Fund. Campaigning for the funding to restore Gorton Monastery was a large arduous process taking almost 12 years from the time the Monastery was closed by the Monks in 1989. In the subsequent years Gorton Monastery was heavily vandalised by local youths and was dangerously deteriorated. Although Gorton Monastery is located about a mile outside of Manchester City Centre in a somewhat deprived area of the City it has proven to be a key economic booster to Manchester and another piece in the regeneration puzzle. Gorton Monastery was designed by a local architect in Manchester, Edward Welby Pugin and was constructed by the Friars themselves, completing the work in 1866.

Gorton Monastery

Gorton Monsatery
Gorton Monsatery | Source

John Rylands Library

One of many Victorian-era buildings that used the style of gothic in architecture in and around Manchester, the John Rylands Library is a dark, imposing and impressive. The John Rylands Library opened to the public in 1900 and since 1972 has been part of the City's largest University, the University of Manchester. As with many of the city's old buildings the John Rylands Library was in dire need of some TLC and so in 2003 a funding package was agreed and £17million was spent to bring the Library back to it's former glory. The refurbished John Rylands Library re-opened to the public in 2007 and is now one of Manchesters most impressive attractions and one of the finest pieces of classic architecture in Manchester. An article housed in the John Rylands Library called the Manchester 'Rylands Library Papyrus P52' is believed to be the oldest original New Testament text in the world.

John Rylands Library

John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library | Source
Juxtaposed. John Rylands Library with adjacent modern office block
Juxtaposed. John Rylands Library with adjacent modern office block | Source

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Manchester Central Library

Not quite as old as the other buildings featured in the hub, Manchester Central Library was only completed in 1934. Designed by E.Vincent Harris in a traditional neoclassical style many visitors to Manchester often believe Manchester Central Library to be older than it really is. Inside is a huge common reading and reference library with a huge high domed ceiling. Due to funding limitations the Central Library, Manchester found itself with a significant maintenance backlog which jeopardised it's entire future. Thankfully Manchester City Council have funded a huge restoration project that will see Manchester Central Library fit to stand for at least another 80 years as well as being at the forefront of technology and customer services.

Manchester Central Library

Manchester Central Library
Manchester Central Library | Source
St Peter's Square, Manchester City Centre.  The Midland Hotel (left) and Manchester Central Library (right)
St Peter's Square, Manchester City Centre. The Midland Hotel (left) and Manchester Central Library (right) | Source

London Road Fire Station

A stunning example of Edwardian Baroque architecture in Manchester in much the same vain as the Manchester Midland Hotel across the other side of the city, the London Road Fire Station was home to the Greater Manchester Fire Service but was also used as an ambulance depot, a bank, a coroners court, and a gas meter testing station. Unfortunately when the last remaining occupants of the London Road Fire Station, the fire service, left in 1986 the fire station building was locked up and hasn't been reopened since. For more than 26 years this fantastic London Road Fire Station has been left to rot and is now the focus of a serious battle between local campaigners siding with Manchester City Council who want to bring the building back to life and the buildings owners who have failed to utilise the building for the last 26 years. You can read more about this interesting battle here.

London Road Fire Station, Manchester

London Road Fire Station
London Road Fire Station | Source

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