Manchester Warehouses

Smaller Manchester warehouses and blocks, with, in the distance, the tower of Lancaster House.

A remarkable feature of Victorian and Edwardian Manchester consists of its warehouses. A warehouse generally needs to be a block enclosing as much space as possible, and in Victorian times, to have as many windows for light as possible. The Manchester examples are of prodigious size, and have a high level of decoration, verging on the opulent, typically being completely clad in terra cotta and glazed brick, known as faience. The best examples are around Whitworth Street, Princess Street, Portland Street and Peter Street, and similarly-glazed brick companies and hotels in Oxford Street. We mention just four of the most buildings here, as though impressive, they are rather tangential to the interests of these pages.

Figure for Lancaster House.

At the eastern end of Whitworth St, where it joins London Road, is the Coroners’ court, Fire and Police Station, which has its own page, but in the more westerly portion, by Princess Street, Nos 67 -75 Whitworth Street are all on a massive sale and of similar décor. On the corner, the former Union Bank sits at no. 67, with above the door, two cherubs holding the sign of the bank. Above, one wing of Lancaster House, with a vertiginous tower on a sand-coloured terra cotta, building, itself some eight storeys high. This is actually the later wing, with no 71 being the earlier part, dated 1906. The architect was Harry Fairhurst, a Manchester man. Above the entrance sit two draped girls, one with a spinning wheel and scroll, the other with scroll and globe, modelled by C. C. Spruce, who is unfamiliar. No. 73-75 is India House, 1906, in a lighter terra cotta with baroque garnishes. Most impressive.

On the corner of Oxford St is the Refuge Assurance Co., now the Palace Hotel, firstly by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, then extended by others. Clad entirely in Doulton glazed tiles. The square baroque clock-tower with pillars and cupola is a landmark. On the iron gates, two small figures of demure girls, much painted.

Tootal Broadhurst Lee & Co.

In Oxford Street itself, we have at no. 56 on the corner of Great Bridgewater Street, Tootal Broadhurst Lee & Co., a massive block in pinkish and dark red glaze, with Corinthian pillars in front of each bay at second to third floor levels. Over the entrance, a lion, very small for the scale of the building, and on the corner with Gt Bridgewater Street, two crouching Atlas figures.

In Portland Street, is Watts Warehouse, now the Britannia Hotel, by Travis and Mangnall and put up in the 1850s. Another monster of a building, in pale cream with 4 principal storeys, an attic, and 4 slightly elevated towers along the 300ft length. Above the ground floor windows, alternating keystones show female heads with baskets, and nude half-figures, also holding baskets of fruit, with some small differences of detail from one to another. Two rather feeble little angels kneel above one doorway, and inside the main entrance is a typical work by C. Sergeant Jagger, called The Sentry, acting as a WW1 memorial.

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