Three for me.

Jonathan Schofield

To kick off our new series of recommended sights and attractions, the writer, broadcaster and historian, Jonathan Schofield (who also edits Manchester Confidential) list his top three Mancunian buildings.


Chetham’s Library: Originally priests’ quarters from 1421, Chetham’s is now a School of Music and a Library. The Library, which dates from the 1650s, is open on weekdays to the public and is the oldest free public library in the country. A remarkable survival with a remarkable collection, the place reeks of history and yet knocks you for six with charm. If you think Manchester is a Victorian or even twentieth century city, think again.

Manchester Town Hall: The classic building from that Victorian architect par excellence, Alfred Waterhouse. This neo-Gothic building, opened in 1877, sums up the pride, the dynamism and the arrogance of the Victorian era and marries architecture, sculpture and the fine arts. It reveals the ambition of Manchester to be a fully functioning city state, a latter-day Florence, a leader and a pioneer.

North City Library: By Walker Simpson architects, North City Library points the way ahead for a new kind of progressive public building with this library-meets-Sixth Form College. It could be described as modestly grand. There’s a belvedere to the city centre, generous public spaces, a vivid external wall of photovoltaic panels and a show-off pond and community garden that cluster around a 100 year-old chimney from the former baths on the site. It never feels like an overwhelming building, just a comfortably impressive one.

Image: Chetham’s Library, courtesy Darby Sawchuk

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