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Report - Central Library and Town Hall Extension, Manchester – February 2012

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by tweek, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. tweek

    tweek Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
    Regular User

    Jun 14, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Central Library and Town Hall Extension, Manchester – February 2012

    Visited with fishbrain, Gone and Hiddenshadow

    I was actually out on a night out with some former colleagues when this one came about. So yeah, apologies to those guys for my premature departure... but needless to say, it had to be done. I was a bit tipsy though, so apologies for the pics.

    Thanks to Hiddenshadow for the call and lending me his tripod for a couple of pics. Thanks to Gone for lending me a 1GB card and for knowing what to do(!). Fortunately I had my camera with me at least, but with no tripod and just my broken 50mm it was hard to do much with the rooftops and massive spaces... most of the up-close-and-personal stuff has been rightly boarded over or removed temporarily while work continues.

    I actually remember seeing Gone and Millhouse's pictures from here back in September, not knowing the two of them at all, and thinking... these guys are crazy, I'll never be able to do that! I also remember Hiddenshadow's plethora of reports over the summer and thinking, jeez... this guy must be unemployed to get around this much.

    Well, what i'm getting at is none of the above assumptions were true. Gone and Millhouse are anything but crazy, Hiddenshadow is employed and I sure as hell can stand on a rooftop without feeling the need to jump off it to my death.


    Lauded as an example of excellent town planning, the two structures are but a fragment of the initial civic centre proposals to transform the important city centre nodes of Albert Square and St. Peter’s Square. Both were designed by Vincent Harris in 1925 for an architectural competition. The Library was not completed until 1934, with the Town Hall Extension following in 1937.

    Most people are surprised to learn the Central Library is such a modern building given its uncomplicated Classical design. The Town Hall Extension is the surprising star-of-the-show however, balancing the elaborate Gothic architecture of the main Town Hall building with the simplicity of the Library.

    The library building is grade II* listed and was opened by by King George V.

    Reports emerged in 2008 that the Central Library needed essential renovation to repair and modernise facilities. The library faced asbestos problems and needed work to maintain its `structural integrity'.

    In 2011, a three year project to renovate the library was started. Reconstruction will cost £170m and the library will be closed until 2014. During the closure its books are stored in a disused part of the Winsford salt mine.

    The pitched leaded roof appears from street level to be a dome, but this is only a surrounding roof. The dome that can be seen from within the Great Hall lies within this roof, and cannot be seen from the ground. Atrociously, I failed to take a picture on the 50mm that could capture this... but hey... others have, there are aerial photobooks of Manchester, and there is Bing Maps.

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    Around the rim of the dome on the inside of the building is an inscription from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament:

    “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her, she shall give of thine head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory she shall deliver to thee."
    Proverbs 4:7


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    The Shakespeare Hall is an ornate chamber displaying local heraldry. The ceiling decorations include the arms and crests of the Duchy of Lancaster, the See of York, the See of Manchester, the City of Manchester, and Lancashire County Council. The walls of Shakespeare Hall are covered with Hopton Wood stone quarried in Derbyshire.


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    The Town Hall Extension has opened up too. The process of moving all the various council departments and private organisations out of the building must have been a bugger and I know it took a fair few year with many services moving to the expensive, new and decidedly crappy First Street 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.


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    I am feeling all warm and fuzzy inside after this one.

    Thanks for viewing,

    :Not Worthy


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