Manchester Town Hall isn’t just a Town Hall… It is a work of Art!
Visiting the Town Hall of the city you are touring isn’t always something that comes in mind. Town Halls are somehow a bit intimidating and generally may be considered as interesting. They are, after all, functional buildings, where people work. Despite their official status, some of them have beautiful interiors and maybe even some unique features… like the Manchester Town Hall!
A pinch of History & Architecture
Manchester Town Hall was build during the Victorian era in the fashionable neo-Gothic style, which opposed the neo-classical architecture mouvement of other cities like Liverpool. Emphasis was made on rib vaults and tall arched windows but mostly leaving out carved decorations. Because of this and some other architecture choices (like the preference made for light colored stained glass) the design was criticized for not being Gothic enough! Well, haters gonna hate and some things don’t change all that much!
The town hall construction started in 1868 and was completed in 1877. Although you might have just read the previous dates very quickly, I’m emphasizing these dates to highlight something that I find fascinating: It only took 9 years to build such an incredible and large building. (fyi: 14 Million bricks (!) were used and encased in spinkwell stones)
Maybe you will be thinking that modern constructions technique are much quicker and they are, I suppose. To give a rough idea for comparaison, nowadays, it takes between 1 to 2 years to build an average size apartment block and something between 3 to 5 years to build a skyscraper.
But, hopefully, when you scroll down through the pictures below, you will soon realize how incredibly refined the Manchester Town Hall interiors are. So, considering that it is over 100 years old, I find that 9 years to create such a masterpiece is quite an achievement.
The Manchester Town Hall was designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse, a prolific architect of his time. You probably don’t know him but you surely know his most famous achievement: the Natural History Museum in London!
Waterhouse’s design of the Manchester Town Hall, is regarded as “one of the finest examples of neo-Gothic architecture with overwhelming character in every space“.
One of the staircase and the landing on the second floor
The entrance door of the Great Hall. More pictures below…
Pictures above and below are of the The Conference Hall which was originally the Council Chamber
The Reception Room which is still used today to celebrate weddings.
The cotton flower adorning the mosaic floor. The bees are on the 2ne floor!
The Great Hall and the Ford Made Brown Murals
As we entered the Great Hall, which is located on the 2nd floor, to see the murals by Ford Madox, I was taken by surprise by the beauty and immensity of the Hall. The hall measures 100 feet (30 m) by 50 feet (15 m) and is adorned by majestic chandeliers and a superb ceiling separated in different panels each representing the coat of arms of a different city or country with which Manchester traded.
Ford Madox Brown a famous English painter from the Victorian times, spent the latter years of his life painting the Murals you will be able to admire in the great hall.
There are 12 painting, most of them done directly on the walls of the hall, which depict chronologically, from left to right, the history of Manchester… in a very Victorian way…
The Danes carry their chief on a stretcher through Manchester. Some of them trip on a pig while trying to escape the anger of the Manchester’s residents.
Queen Philippa of Hainault rides into Manchester and is greeted by some Flemish weavers who were invited to England but Edward III.
In 1556, Manchester’s Court Leet passed an edict directing that “the Burgess and others of the Town shall send in all manner of Weight and Measures to be tried by their Majesties Standard”
Willian Crabtree, a draper, helped his friend Jeremiah Horror, calculate the Transit of Venus and is depicted watching such event.
John Kay invented the fly shuttle (the weaving machine where the shuttle is automatic) and is depicted here being taken to safety as rioters are trying to destruct his invention.
John Dalton, a Manchester Schoolmaster, is collecting fire gasses. Dalton research lead him to the formation of the atomic theory.
The Technical Bits:
Manchester Town Hall official website is: www.thetownhallmcr.co.uk. There, you will find all the information to organise your visit like directions and opening times as well as a beautiful gallery of pictures.
The Sculpture café, located on the ground floor, is the perfect place to have tea among the statues of all the great figures of Manchester who have shaped its history.
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