STUDY DAYS

WHEN COTTON WAS KING
THE ARCHITECTURAL LEGACY OF 19TH CENTURY MANCHESTER CITY CENTRE

by Brian Healey

22nd APRIL 2020

Brian Healey has been a senior modern languages teacher in an independent grammar school for many years. He has enjoyed a successful parallel career as a professional artist and interior designer. Since 2006 he has been regularly appointed to several prestigious ocean and river cruise lines, either as resident artist, guest lecturer on art history or as destination speaker for more than 40 countries. Most recently this work has successfully extended to art guiding through important towns and museums in France, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Portugal.

Lecture 1: “From Warehouse to Palazzo”
In the 19th Century “Cottonopolis” as Manchester was known, grew like topsy, making vast fortunes for both the city and its merchants. This lecture shows how architects, including Barry and Waterhouse vied with each other to bring the architecture of Athens, the Renaissance and the Grand Canal to the city’s streets, embellishing their facades with allegory and symbolism.

Lecture 2: “Town Hall Triumphant”- Civic Pride & Commercial Swagger
This looks at the story behind the building of the magnificent Town Hall, described by many as the last great neo-gothic building of the 19th century. It looks at the competing designs, the battle to build it, the decoration and sculpture and the personalities behind some of the key figures.

Lecture 3: “Boom Bust and Baroque”
We conclude our story with the final glittering chapter, beginning with the battle to build the Ship Canal. From the Byzantine detail of Waterhouse’s Refuge building to the cathedral-like space of the John Ryland’s library, everything spoke of wealth and confidence, not least the Cotton Exchange itself, rebuilt on a massive scale. By 1918 however, the world had changed for ever and the star that was Manchester’s cotton trade was already on the wane.

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