Our Top 10 of Manchester's Historic Buildings and Landmarks
Celebrating Manchester’s magnificent buildings on World Architecture Day
Monday 1stOctober is World Architecture Day and Uniquely Manchester can’t think of anywhere better than our fantastic city, in which to celebrate some of the greatest global architectural achievements.
Manchester, the first modern industrial city, is lucky enough to house an amazing array of impressive constructions, showcasing a vast range of architectural styles; from Edwardian Baroque to towering modern megastructures, Neo-Gothic to Art Deco, Palazzo to Art Nouveau.
And, excitingly, Manchester’s skyline is ever changing, with new super-structures adding yet more shape to the already spectacular cityscape. Until recently Beetham Tower was famously the city’s tallest building, but that’s been over-taken by The South Tower, which is currently under construction, albeit by a mere 20cms!
We couldn’t possibly let World Architecture Day pass without paying tribute to our Top 10 favourite historic Manchester buildings. See if you agree!
- Central Library
This iconic Grade II listed building was declared open by King George V in 1935 and has recently undergone a £50m refurbishment. We definitely recommend having a look at previously hidden heritage spaces and the magnificent Wolfson Reading Room.
- Manchester Town Hall
Regarded as one of the finest interpretations of Gothic revival architecture in
the world, this Grade I listed building is undergoing a £328.3 million upgrade, meaning the interior is currently closed to the public. It’s still worth a visit though, not least to gaze up at the beautiful 85m clock tower that dominates the exterior.
- John Rylands Library
The striking gothic building, designed by architect Basil Champneys, took ten years to build and was opened to public readers on 1 January 1900. The Library which has been cited as the best example of neo-Gothic architecture in Europe,houses over 250,000 printed volumes, and well over a million manuscripts and archival items.
- Cen Central
Now an award-winning exhibition and conference centre, Manchester Central Convention Complex (commonly known as Manchester Central, although some people still call it G-MEX!), was converted from Manchester Central station in 1982. The railway station opened in 1880 and, at its height, more than 400 trains passed through the station every day. The building's large wrought-iron arched roof was a praised piece of railway engineering and is the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain.
- The Principal Hotel (former Refuge building)
Originallyknown as the Refuge Building, this red brick and terracotta Grade II listed building opened its doors in 1895, having been designed and built for the Refuge Assurance Company. In 1996, it was converted to The Palace Hotel, at a cost of £7 million pounds; and rebranded as ‘The Principal Manchester’ in 2016.
- Manchester Cathedral
Mainly built in gothic style, the Grade I listed building sits on the site of what is believed to have been an early Saxon church; the remains of which are preserved inside the Cathedral and date back to around 700. The building underwent extensive interior and exterior rebuilding and refurbishment in both the 19thand 20thcentury.
- The Old Wellington Inn
Built in 1552, this is the oldest building of its kind in Manchester and was the birthplace of poet John Byrom in 1692. It became a public housein 1830; first known as the Vintners Arms, and becoming the Wellington Inn in 1865. In the aftermath of the Manchester bombing, it was decided as part of the city’s redevelopment that the building should be dismantled and rebuilt 300 metres towards Manchester Cathedral. The move was completed, and the pub reopened, in 1999.
- Fish Market (Smithfields Market)
Opened in 1872, the Smithfield Market was home to a vibrant hub of fruit, veg and fish markets. Though the Fish Market building has now been converted into apartments, the 19thcentury external walls remain and the beautifully carved arches of the original market can be seen and admired from High Street.
- The Royal Exchange Manchester
This grade II listed building with its Baroque clock tower began life as a Commodities exchange in 1874, becoming known as the hub of the world cotton trade and earning the city the name Cottonopolis. The building was heavily damaged in both the Manchester blitz and the Manchester bombing; but has been fully restored and is now a premium retail destination and home to the iconic Royal Exchange theatre.
- Hotel Gotham (The Midland Bank)
This Art Deco building, which features carvings by local sculptor John Ashton Floyd, was completed in 1935 and began life as The Midland Bank. The grade II listed building became HSBC in the 1990s, before closing as a bank in 2008. Nowadays, the lower floor – the former banking hall – is a Jamie Oliver restaurant, with the upper floors of the iconic building being home to Hotel Gotham; a fantastic five-star boutique hotel that open in 2015.
So that’s our Top 10, do you agree…or have we missed off your favourite?