The musings of an obsessive knitter and stash collector

Monday, June 12, 2006

Manchester central library

Some more information about another Manchester landmark as promised to the Secret Pal spoiling me!
This is an important British library, which is one of the largest outside London, it has an large collection of books for lending and for reference. It also provides a home for audio-visual material and exhibitions.

Manchester was the first local authority in Britain to introduce a public lending and reference library, under powers granted by the Public Libraries & Museums Act of 1850. Lending books was free, costs being met from the rates. The existing building came after many years looking for a suitable place to house Manchester's growing collection of books and printed materials. Amongst these are 30 incunabula - books printed before 1501.
It also houses the Library Theatre, a café, shop and Local Studies Unit. It was designed by London architect E. Vincent Harris, who won the competition for its design as well as the adjacent Town Hall Extension (built later). The foundation stone of the library was laid by Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald in 1930, and it was officially opened by King George on 17 July 1934.
It is a Manchester landmark which dominates St Peter's Square, and is in an imposing position when approaching from the south along one of Manchester's busiest roads, Oxford Street.The building was constructed as a 4 storey high steel frame, covered in Portland stone, and 90 feet high. It is clearly influenced by the Pantheon in Rome. The southern front is dominated by an imposing 5 bay portico of Corinthian columns with rounded arches at each side. On top is a large domed glass roof covering the central reading room, (similar to that at the British Museum), but this is hidden from street level by a higher surrounding lead-covered roof.
Harris also designed the furniture which is in to be found throughout the building. It cost around £410,000 and the site on which it stands cost £187,800.
The building provides a home for the Library Theatre Company who perform in the basement of the library.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!
I love such buildings and especially libraries - Manchester can't be that bad!
Meanwhile it's hot here, too :-((

Take care SP

6:56 am GMT  

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