The Portico Library

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Manchester, Portico Library

The noble and unassuming PorticoGlossary Term Library in Mosley Street is the only surviving work in Manchester by Thomas Harrison. Promoters of a scheme for a combined newsroom, circulating library and reading room visited the Athenaeum in Liverpool in 1799 or 1800. This may have been how they came into contact with Harrison whose Lyceum was built there 1800-04. The PorticoGlossary Term is Manchester's earliest Greek Revival building and in incorporates a partially intact Soane -inspired interior. To Mosley Street a pedimented central loggiaGlossary Term has four unfluted IonicGlossary Term columns, based on Stuart and Revett's drawings of the Little Temple on the Illisus. On the side to Charlotte Street a rank of attached columns and ground floor windows with alternating flat and pedimented heads, all done in the finely finished Runcorn stone. The steps up to the IonicGlossary Term PorticoGlossary Term and the recessed entrance emphasise the exclusive nature of the club, but today they lead to a disappointing pub conversion.

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Manchester, Greek Revival

The ground floor was the newsroom, and there was an open well with a galleried first floor. This was closed in and floored over in the 20th century. The library upstairs is preserved and is now reached from a side entrance. Here the space is dominated by a Soanic dome with late coloured Victorian glass, and segmental tunnel vaults to E and W. Harrison presumably knew Soane's Bank of England in London, and he may have had contact with Soane through his membership of the Architects' Club. The library and its fittings are intact, and the library continues in use.



One of the orders of classical architecture, distinguished in particular by downward- and inward-curling spirals (called volutes) on the capital of the column.


(Italian): A gallery or room with regular openings along one main side, sometimes free-standing.


A porch with the roof and frequently a pediment supported by a row of columns. Porticoes are described by the number of columns, e.g. distyle (two), tetrastyle (four), hexastyle (six), octostyle (eight). A prostyle portico has columns standing free. A portico in antis has columns on the same plane as the front of the building. Blind portico: the front features of a portico applied to a wall; also called a temple front.