Looking at Buildings

, printed from the Looking at Buildings website on Saturday 24th August 2019

Municipal Housing

Sherratt Street [1]. VICTORIA SQUARE is a vast slum replacement of 1897. The Corporation sponsored a competition won by Spalding & Cross. The result is a five-storeyed block with an inner courtyard or square roundGlossary Term [2] which balconies run on four levels. The iron railings show at once that the architects wanted to do more than was strictly necessary without at all going elaborate. The eighteen-bayGlossary Term [3] front to Oldham Road has good brickwork, a middle gableGlossary Term [4] with some terracottaGlossary Term [5] and Dutch side-gables. The sides of the block are stock brick with large segmental-headed windows in pairs alternating with small roundGlossary Term [6] windows in pairs. It originally comprised 235 two-roomed and forty-eight single-roomed flats, all paired on each side of a communal lobby with a sink and water closet. The turrets contained communal laundries and drying rooms. This initiative did not do the slum dwellers any good since they could not afford the rents and had to move to squalid conditions elsewhere, but it was the first municipal housing in Manchester and it is still occupied and in public ownership.

The adjacent block fronting Oldham Road was built at the same time, with shops and dwellings above. Behind there is more municipal housing of the same period on Anita Street [7], this time in the form of modest terraces, designed as one and two room flats.The street's name has been shortened from its orginal one: Sanitary Street. The neighbouring terraces on George Leigh Street [8], which runs parallel to the south-east, were three-bedroom houses, the only element of the scheme to conform to the moral ideal for housing - i.e. allowing for separation of parents and children of each sex. These were far too expensive for working class families at the time, but like their neighbours on Anita Street, they are still occupied and in public ownership.

Last updated: Monday, 26th January 2009