Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Friday 19th August 2022

The Portico Library

PorticoGlossary Term [1] Library in Mosley Street [2] 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 [3] is Manchester's earliest Greek Revival [4] building and in incorporates a partially intact Soane -inspired interior. To Mosley Street a pedimented central loggiaGlossary Term [5] has four unfluted IonicGlossary Term [6] 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 [7] PorticoGlossary Term [8] and the recessed entrance emphasise the exclusive nature of the club, but today they lead to a disappointing pub conversion.

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.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009