Express building, Manchester

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I was in Manchester Northern Quarter on Saturday and decided to pop over to Great Ancoats Street to take a look at the former Daily Express print works, a Grade II listed building. Opened in 1939, it’s an excellent example of a 1930’s Modernist structure. I first visited it on business over 20 years ago when it was still a working print works. However, the Daily Express stopped production in Manchester in the 1980’s and today it’s been converted into residential properties and offices.

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It’s a simple box like structure completely covered with glass – plain and opaque black. Originally the plain glass was transparent and the printing machinery could be seen from outside. It’s been replaced with reflective glass to create privacy for the new residents.

The corners are rounded, giving the building a streamlined appearance, so it could be considered to be “streamline moderne” in style. Although it is over 70 years old it has a very modern look and could easily be mistaken for a much more modern building.

Wigan Infirmary, architecture

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This is the original entrance to Wigan Infirmary. Opened in 1873 it’s built in the neo-Gothic style which was the height of fashion during the Victorian age. It was designed by Thomas Worthington, an architect who was born in Crescent Parade, Salford, on 11 April 1826. Worthington was raised as a Unitarian, and as a result of his upbringing was committed to social reform. Probably due to this, he was often commissioned to design public buildings. There are many examples of his work in the Manchester area and other parts of Northern England.

Like many buildings in the North of England, the Infirmary became blackened with soot and other pollution emitted from factories, mines and iron foundries that dominated the landscape in Wigan during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. But it was cleaned up a few years ago during the major re-development of the hospital, revealing the brighter colours of its brick and stonework.

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Image published in The Building News, March 4th 1870. via http://archiseek.com

There are two wings on each side of the three main bays and a central tower and front porch. It’s constructed from red brick (as were many neo-gothic buildings from this period) with bands of blue bricks providing contract. A cream coloured sandstone used for decorative elements on the windows.

The porch has a crenelated balcony The front entrance has a pointed gothic arch supported by two short columns with floral capitals.  An engraving on the arch tells us that the hospital was opened on June 4th 1873 by the then Prince and Princess of Wales.

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The main first floor windows have pointed arches constructed of red brick with some blue coloured bricks and sandstone used to create a decorative effect.

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A coupe of old photographs taken by Francis Frith, who’s recently featured in a series on BBC2, can be viewed on the web here and here.

I think that the building is a good solid example of Victorian Municipal neo-Gothic architecture. Well proportioned, with some attractive features.

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Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Last week we went to a concert by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the Philharmonic Hall on Hope Street. I enjoyed the concert but the building itself was a highlight too. It’s an excellent example of an Art Deco interior, of which there aren’t that many in the North West of England. The architectural historians Pollard and Pevsner describe the auditorium as being “sensuously curved”. I think the phrase sums it up well.

The distinctive figures painted on the side walls are meant to represent “musical moods”.

The main bar was also a beautiful example of Art Deco style, but I wasn’t able to get a photograph – it was far too crowded with concert goers.