Friday, March 7, 2008

Radisson Edwardian Manchester Hotel, Manchester

Before I move on to something completely different, here's the third of my trio of Manchester vignettes. It's from the building that I still think of as the Free Trade Hall. The 1853 building where the Hallé Orchestra used to play is now the incongruously named Radisson Edwardian Manchester Hotel, but the air-conditioned rooms with their Scandinavian slate bathrooms do not concern us here. The Italianate palazzo-style exterior has, mercifully, been preserved – a memorial not only to Manchester’s role in the campaign to repeal the Corn Laws but also to the design flair of architect Edward Walters and the art of sculptor John Thomas. Foliage, lovingly undercut, is the keynote of many of Thomas’s carvings, and here the leaves surround a cartouche with a relief of a medieval market hall, with an upper room above an open arcaded ground floor and a cross beneath one of the arches. The image nicely suggests that, although Manchester’s wealth as a city was in the 19th century a relatively recent development, the local concern for equitable, honest trading goes back much further.


thud said...

Having worked in Manchester i have found it rather poor in the matter of interesting or quirky buildings as compared to liverpool..nothing seems to have changed.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Indeed. I've not been to Liverpool for a few years, and plan a trip when I get the latest load of deadlines out of the way.

Peter Ashley said...

Ah, Liverpool. One of the best bits, apart from a Chinese restaurant I seem to always find myself in near the Anglican Cathedral (more enjoyable on the outside I find) are the buildings around the Pier Head. Much as I imagine the early waterfront would have been in New York, only in miniature. Although of course they're big buildings in their own right.