modsocs A-Z of modern manchester

modsocs A-Z of modern manchester


an alphabet of 20th century greater manchester architecture, from the manchester modernist society. in regular instalments from aldine to zochonis.

F is for Fac51 - The Hacienda

FPosted by Eddy Rhead Thu, September 27, 2012 23:36:18
Interior - Ben Kelly

Whitworth Street West



The Hacienda' cultural significance is well documented. However Ben Kelly's designs for the interior of club were equally as important.

His post modern industrial chic was to be copied innumerable times and with regard night club design it saw the beginning of a real shift away from sticky carpets, chrome and mirrors of the 1970s and 80s over to a more robust and hard edged look for night clubs. The influence was to stretch further - the design influencing a new wave of bars, into office and retail interiors and into graphic design.

It is a cliche but the design of The Hacienda was years ahead of its time and had it survived maybe another 10 or 15 years could surely have been worthy of listing.

Such was its importance, the interior of The Hacienda was recreated for the recent British Design exhibition at the V&A Museum.

Architecturally and culturally The Hacienda was much more than just a nightclub.

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Z is for Zion

ZPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, April 27, 2012 16:42:01
Struggling to find a building connected with the letter Z so have chosen the story of the establishment of the State of Israel where Manchester, as with many world events, played a central role.

Chaim Weizmann was the first President of Israel and one of the leaders of the Zionist movement that pushed, in the first part of the 20th century, for the establishment, in Palestine, of a Jewish homeland.

It was during his time at Manchester University, where he lectured in Chemistry, that Weizmann developed a formula for producing acetone. Acetone was a vital component in high explosives and during the First World War Britain's was effort was close to total collapse as it could not produce enough shells to fight the relentless campaign in France and Belgium.

Weizmann was willing to share his acetone production research under the proviso that the British, who controlled Palestine at the time, would work to establish a Jewish homeland - now known as Israel.

Weizmann got his wish and his efforts were rewarded in 1949 when he became the first President of the newly formed state of Israel.

The establishment of Israel, and the resulting unrest its formation would cause, has done much to shape modern world history and its formation and roots can be directly linked to a chemist who worked and lived in Manchester.

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Y is for YMCA

YPosted by Eddy Rhead Mon, April 09, 2012 11:28:34
Former YMCA - Peter Street

Woodhouse, Corbett and Dean


A little out of our period but included because it is a very modern building underneath its very grand terracotta facade. The core of the building is of reinforced concrete and represents an early use of the material in Great Britain. Probably because of the YMCA's origins in the USA the architects chose to use a system devised by the architect Albert Kahn and was necessitated by the fact the designs called for a swimming pool on the top floor - creating huge loads on the building. Sadly all of the internal evidence of the YMCA - the swimming pool, gymnasium and running track etc - has been removed. M2 3NQ

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V is for Victoria Station Heliport

VPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, February 24, 2012 11:26:32
Heliport at Victoria Station


Architect unknown


Part of the current exhibition Infra_Manch at CUBE gallery, Manchester

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S is for Stella Maris

SPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, February 03, 2012 18:24:04
Stella Maris Seamen's Club and Hostel

Later Salvation Army Hostel


Desmond Williams and Associates

M3 5HP

The Stella Maris was demolished in April 2012. The foundation stone was rescued by the Manchester Modernists and was found to contain a time capsule, inside this was a half crown coin and a scroll commemorating the laying of the foundation stone in 1964.

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Q is for Queens University Belfast

QPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, January 13, 2012 16:58:50
Ashby Building, Queens University, Belfast

Cruickshank and Seward



A bit tenuous this one but a great building by the Manchester practise of Cruickshank and Seward. It also displays many of the characteristics of its other buildings from the period in Manchester such as the Renold Building, Arthur House and the Roscoe Building.

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O is for Oxford Road Station

OPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, November 25, 2011 20:28:12
Oxford Road Station


Architect for London Midland :W R Headley

Project architect : Max Clendinning

Grade II listed

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N is for Northcliffe House

NPosted by Eddy Rhead Thu, October 13, 2011 22:21:10
Northcliffe House, Deansgate

Offices and printing plant for the Daily Mail

Waddington Son and Dunkerley 1904 with later additions by J W Beaumont 1929


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M is for Minut Men

MPosted by Eddy Rhead Thu, September 29, 2011 23:31:12
Minut Men

Allerton Building

Salford University

William Mitchell 1967

Images from William Mitchell's website

An article about the work of William Mitchell can be found in the current edition of The Modernist magazine

M6 6PU

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L is for Lee House

LPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, September 09, 2011 11:10:25
Lee House

P G Fairhurst for H S Fairhurst and Son

1928 - 31

Original designs show that at the time this could have been, at seventeen storeys, Europe's tallest building. Lack of money prevented the full scheme being completed.

P Garland Fairhurst, Harry's son, had travelled to the United States and had returned enthused by the skyscrapers he had seen and at the earliest opportunity had attempted to construct one of his own. Elevations in the Fairhurst archive show the 17 storey building (perspective drawing above) and the proportions of the building we see today make more sense with this knowledge in mind.

M1 5JW

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K is for Kennet House

KPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, August 26, 2011 21:02:48
Kennet House

R A H Livett


Brief glimpse of Kennet House at around 5 mins.


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I is for ICI Blackley Part II

IPosted by Eddy Rhead Thu, July 28, 2011 22:53:14
Laboratories for ICI, Blackley

Serge Chermayeff



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G is for G G Pace

GPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, July 15, 2011 11:12:19

St. Mark’s, Milne Street, Chadderton

George Gaze Pace, 1962-3

What does Professor Pevsner say?: “One must leave it to Mr. Pace – he is always fresh and never afraid of experiment, and he does not follow all the latest fashions. This is an interesting church, with the forked timbers supports of the roof inside, with the windows of many lights with broad flush unmoulded mullions and broad flush transoms in random places, and the tower with its steep saddleback roof. The gables have small windows in five tiers. The font perhaps has really too odd a shape but, once again, Mr. Pace is capable of convincing his clients that they must let him have his way.”

Elain Harwood suggests that, “there is a strong northern sensibility, reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh or E.S.Prior’s St. Andrew, Roker (1905-7)”. She notes that “Pace’s earliest designs are simple rendered halls for a congregation and sanctuary set in a single rectangular space. This changed in the late 1950s. As more non-orthogonal plans from mainland Europe became known, so his spaces became more organic. He expressed his materials – whether rough stone, concrete or brick – with increasing force and honesty. His penchant for punching small rectangular openings through these walls evolved from a Romanesque symmetry to a loose patterning reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp.”

“This process reaches its maturity at St. Mark, which apes the local industrial aesthetic in its glossy unadorned engineering brick. Only the saddleback tower is reminiscent of Pace’s earlier work. A lattice pattern of windows dominates the interior, whose barn-like quality is enforced with giant forked posts of laminated timber. The church is entirely traditional in spirit – yet Nikolaus Pevsner could rightly term it “raw and wild” for its very simplicity”.

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E is for Elder

EPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, July 01, 2011 20:20:35
Henry Elder - Architect The former Longford cinema - Stretford

Henry Elder was born in a terraced house in Lower Broughton Salford in 1909. He originally trained at the Royal Technical College in Salford to be a bricklayer but his aspirations and talents meant he soon progressed to The Manchester College of Technology, finally training to be an architect at Manchester University's School of Architecture. At a precociously young age he became a partner in the firm of Roberts, Wood and Elder – a firm making a name for themselves mainly in cinema design. Elder designed a house for himself and his family in Timperley at the age of 24 and he was only 25 when he designed perhaps his most well known building – the former Longford cinema on Chester Road Stretford – now a Grade II listed building.

Other cinemas and private houses followed but the Second World War brought a halt to his work. Before the war Elder had become fascinated by Japanese architecture and had travelled to the country and had had his observations published. Ironically the expertise and insight he gained was utilised by the military during the war and he was consulted on how best to destroy Japanese buildings with aerial bombing. For this work he received an MBE but it apparently sat very uneasily with Elder – torn by patriotic loyalty and the knowledge he was serving to destroy a nation he had much regard and respect for. His wartime experience were to greatly influence his later life's work. Lack of jobs due to post war austerity and a growing disillusionment with the architectural profession in the UK led him to emigrate to North America in 1958.

He taught at Cornell University and was eventually to direct the School of Architecture at the University of British Columbia. His teaching was, at the time, radical and controversial. He promoted the increased enrolment of women and encouraged his students to develop a greater understand of architecture as opposed to just churning out an endless stream of jobbing architects. He promoted the idea of sustainable architecture, decades before the concept had a name – emphasising the need to build in harmony with the surrounding landscape and using materials with the lowest environmental impact. His ideas preceded ideals that would become the norm in the 1960's – a proto hippy if you like.

He was hugely respected by his students and is still talked of fondly by a whole generation of North American architects. His name still lives on in a UBC scholarship which according to the UBC website is “A prize that has been endowed by friends and former students of Henry Elder, Director of the School of Architecture from 1961 to 1975, to recognize his inspirational and humanistic qualities which brought a spirit of enquiry and joy in the study of architecture.”

Not bad for a lad from a scruffy terrace in Salford.

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C is for Cenotaph

CPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, June 17, 2011 20:56:44
Cenotaph, St Peters Square

Sir Edwin Lutyens 1924

Transport For Greater Manchester and Manchester City Council, in their wisdom, are proposing to move the Grade II* listed Cenotaph to accommodate the Second City Crossing for Metrolink. The Manchester Modernist Society are strongly opposed to this idea and if you too feel strongly about this we would very much appreciate you add your views to the consultation. The consultation document can be found here

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A is for Arthur

APosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, June 03, 2011 00:35:25

Arthur House Chorlton Street

1963 Cruickshank and Seward

M1 3EJ

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Y is for York House

YPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, May 20, 2011 00:05:19
York House 1911

Harry S Fairhurst

York House was one of the most important buildings built in twentieth century Manchester and must lay claim to be Manchester's first Modern building and one of Europe's first. Its importance was such that, when threatened with demolition, Walter Gropius himself sent a letter of support to the campaigners. The modernity of its design came at a time when Modernism as concept was still in its infancy and its Modernist credentials were not immediately obvious or deliberate. It was the cascading rear wall of glass which drew the attention - a purely functional design device - designed to bring the maximum amount of light into the textile showrooms within. The idea of external glass walls, with no obvious masonry support, became central to Modernist credo and yet York House pre-dated more noted Modernist buildings by over a decade. Its influence did not go unnoticed however and a campaign to save the building from demolition culminated in an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1968. Despite being listed in 1967 it was demolished in 1974.

Sited on Major Street, Manchester but now demolished

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W is for Wythenshawe

WPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, May 06, 2011 11:54:20
Wythenshawe Park Tennis and Bowls Pavilion 1957-59

L C Howitt - City Architect

M23 0AB

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U is for Underground

UPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, April 22, 2011 10:21:06
Guardian Telephone Exchange 1954 -55 Ministry of Works

If the video doesn't play - try here

Location - TOP SECRET - (sort of!)

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S is for Siemens

SPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, April 08, 2011 18:59:14
Sir William Siemens House, Princess Parkway

MBLC (now MBLA) 1989

M20 2UR

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Q is for Quay

QPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, March 25, 2011 15:53:54
Quay House, Quay Street

1964 Harry Fairhurst & Son

M3 3JE

It Felt Like A Kiss

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O is for Offal

OPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, March 11, 2011 12:28:58
United Cattle Products Restaurant, Market Street, Manchester. Now Schuh.

M1 1PW

The popularity of tripe in the first half of the C20th peaked when UCP opened their flagship store on Market Street, Manchester in 1964. Situated in Pall Mall externally it had the modernist feel of the day. Internally it seems no expense was spared and tripe could be enjoyed in surroundings that were the height of sophistication. The Manchester Evening News reported, “Soft music and pleasant surroundings induce a relaxed atmosphere. Features include… large windows overlooking busy Market Street, the neat cloakroom and the soft browns and oranges of the décor….” “Dominating the cafeteria is a giant panel depicting a country landscape with trees, fields and a river. The panel was designed and executed in Italy and covers most of the wall. It is illuminated in bright and cheerful colours. Immediately beneath it is yet another unusual feature of this ultra modern premises. It is a fountain and miniature waterfall in a natural rock setting with artificial flowers and ferns.”

“One of the most impressive highlights is the banqueting suite on the top floor. Most of one wall has been faced with Westmorland Green Stone, while on the other side of the large dining room is a wall covered with blue animal hide” (I’m not making this up!)

“Just off the main dining room in the Coniston Suite is a reception room with a bar; the dance floor is of maple wood and the lighting is housed in ceiling recesses.”
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M is for Mitzi

MPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, February 25, 2011 10:38:54
Mitzi Cunliffe - Sculptor

Heaton Park Pumping Station - Relief panel by Mitzi Cunliffe

M25 2RB

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K is for Kantorowich

KPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, February 11, 2011 09:59:17
The Humanities Building Bridgeford Street aka The Kantorowich Building

Kantorowich, Schonegevel & Skace 1970

M13 9PL

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I is for ICI Blackley

IPosted by Eddy Rhead Thu, January 27, 2011 23:10:07
Hexagon House - now Hexagon Tower

Built for ICI

Richard Seifert and Partners 1971

Mill Brow, Crumpsall, Manchester

M9 8ES

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G is for Garage

GPosted by Eddy Rhead Fri, January 14, 2011 00:09:00
Wythenshawe Bus Garage

1939 - 42

Manchester City Architects Dept: Chief Architect - G Noel Hill

Bradnor Road, Manchester

M15 6FH

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