Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Friday 20th October 2017

King Street

King Street [1] runs west from Spring Gardens and is dominated by HSBC, the former Midland Bank,on an island site at the top (east end) of the street. It is the King of King Street, the major work in Manchester of Sir Edwin Lutyens in collaboration with Whinney, Son & Austen Hall, who took care of the practical side. Carving was by J. Ashton Floyd of Manchester. Designed 1928, erected 1933-5. It is a nearly square block and treated as such, with the upper motifs identical on all four sides. The two angle porches are in King Street, and the entrances all have pilasters which dieGlossary Term [2] away and disappear, as at his Midland Bank on Poultry in London. The elevationGlossary Term [3] steps back and contracts and the tops of the centre motifs have French pavilionGlossary Term [4] roofs. Sheer walls with simple openings contrast with the texture of the lower entrances and the upper stages. The proportions are ingeniously calculated, as Lutyens in his later years adored to do. The top stage is two-thirds of the stage from the obelisks to the next set-back, and that middle stage is two-thirds of the bottom stage. Also the walls above the first floor sillGlossary Term [5] have a very slight batterGlossary Term [6]: 1 in. in every 11 ft (2.54cm in every 3.4m). The banking hall could not be sky lit, so Lutyens gave it arcading on all four sides and wooden galleries much as in Wren churches. The galleries have large arched windows to let enough lightGlossary Term [7] in. The Delhi orderGlossary Term [8], with bells, which Lutyens devised for the Viceroy's House in New Delhi (1913-29), is used.

King Street [9], No. 82 is the former Branch Bank of England by Charles Cockerell, 1845-6. The bank had been given the right to establish branches in 1826 as compensation for its loss of monopoly of joint-stock banking. Cockerell succeeded John Soane as the Bank's architect in 1833. He was asked to supply plans for new buildings for branches in Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol in 1844. The Manchester design is the earliest and most expansive, though the general spirit is the same. Only five bays with giant attached columns and a crowning motif of an aediculeGlossary Term [10] window in an archGlossary Term [11] which pushes up the pedimentGlossary Term [12]. The pedimentGlossary Term [13] is three bays wide, and in this part the lower windows are large and arched with a recessed tripartite arrangement with lunetteGlossary Term [14] over. They correspond to the banking hall. Cockerell uses one of the simplest of Greek ordersGlossary Term [15], from the Temple of Apollo at Delos, which he had employed at Oakley Park, Shropshire. Inside a tunnel vaultGlossary Term [16] leads to a saucer domeGlossary Term [17], continuing as another tunnel vaultGlossary Term [18]. The dome stands on four cast-iron TuscanGlossary Term [19] columns with pierced capitals. The King Street entrance is an early 20th century insertion and the original arched opening on the west side of Pall Mall was reinstated in 1995 when the building was reduced to the status of an entrance foyer to the office block behind, by Holford Associates.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009