Report - Sunlight House, Manchester - April 2013

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Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
Regular User
Jun 14, 2011
Sunlight House, Manchester - April 2013

Visited with Gone and sho

It's been a fair while since we did this, so I can only apologise for the delay. I wasn't initially going to bother posting as I was using a borrowed film camera of Gone's, I was tripodless, plus the scans came back terrible. My 'former' camera was unfortunately drowned by an exploded Grolsch can in my bag on the train over to Manchester.

All things considered however, I have always felt the story deserves telling... as it one of undying persistence. So, coupled with a few of Gone and Sho's photos which they have kindly allowed me to use, I bring you Sunlight House - easily one of my favourite buildings in Manchester, and one I never thought I'd manage to top.

Anyone who has been out with Gone will no doubt be aware the man is walking encyclopaedia on Mancunian rooftopping, and sometime in 2011 we walked past Sunlight House together, me saying something like, "now that's a building I'd love to top" with Gone following up with something I would learn to get used to from him, an anecdote... "tried it, got onto a ledge out of a window, but thought better of climbing up the lightning strip".

Here's his retelling of the episode...
The first time I tried to get on top of this little beaut I ended up climbing out of a window onto a 3/4ft ledge and sat staring at the lightening strip that was *going* to help me climb to the roof. I re-accessed some basic principles and went and had a KFC instead.
As seen from Great Northern Tower...

As seen from the Old Courthouse, Deansgate...

Sometime in 2012, we both had a look together, with limited success...

The second time I visited this place, I was pretty sure the roof was a goer. Myself & Tweek spent some time checking out our different options in which time I found a key for the main building restoration office. After finding a bigger bunch of keys we set about trying nearly every door until a lovely security guard came by asking about why we had his keys ~ That we tried to dump. But he heard em rattling. Shite.
"We only wanted to see her domes, mate" , Gone ingeniously proclaimed.

I'll never forget being told off by the building manager - we stood there like two sheepish schoolboys after being caught smoking behind the bike shed...

"Yeah but you're not sorry though, are you??!!"

After this episode, I thought our chance was gone. I didn't fancy pissing this man off again, and we'd tried almost every available option to us anyway. Another one for the 'almost' pile, I guess.

Fast-forward to 2013, and that ever-present gift to any rooftopper finally arrives... scaffolding! This sort of opportunity would not be lost on us, and with Sho eager to capitalise, we set about finally getting her done. We laugh at scaffolding alarms, even climbs to the third or fourth tier of scaffolding would not put us off.

We had waited a long time for the reveal... and sometimes the chase is as good as the reward... but at least, finally, we would be surveying her domes. Needless to say, up top, she's racked!



As seen from Manchester Central Library rooftop, 1952 (this view is very different now!!)

On completion in 1932, Sunlight House was the city's tallest building. Named after it's designer Joseph Sunlight, it was originally his company's property business headquarters. It is now a mere office building, and goes largely unnoticed by many... tucked away on Quay Street, despite it's grand, art-deco exterior in Portland Stone.

A friend of mine, and a blogger of curious architectural details of Manchester, Hayley Flynn... has an excellent article regarding Sunlight House, specifically re-imagining the city if Sunlight had had his way and achieved a massive 40-storey extension topped with a clocktower... plans that were rejected by the council at the time. Well worth a quick read...
>>Skyliner - Sunlight House<<

Some of my dodgy efforts...







Gone's photos...




Sho's belter...



:Not Worthy

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