Architecture

Creative Tourist

Everyone loves a landmark building, don’t they – the sort of “event architecture” that’s designed to draw in the tourists and make the cup of local pride runneth right over. The North of England is blessed with many architectural gems. From towers to cathedrals, we’ve rounded up our 10 favourites here.

Our top picks

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, St James’ Mount, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 7AZ - Visit now

The vast, neo-Gothic Liverpool Anglican Cathedral was built into a rocky ridge above the city between 1904 and 1978. It is one of the best sites from which to see Liverpool; from its 331 foot-tall tower, the city, river and North Wales hills are laid out below. As for the huge, brooding cathedral itself, it never fail to create a sense of wonder, its vast internal spaces featuring soaring vaulted ceilings, unified by the carefully-designed furniture and fittings.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

The Tetley

The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ - Visit now

Alone amidst a pan-flat landscape, The Tetley stands resolute in its art deco splendour. Whilst the rest of the former brewery has been flattened to make way for an expanse of car parking spaces, the former headquarters, built in 1931, have been spared from this end. Carlsberg bought out Tetley in 1998, then shut down operations at the brewery in 2011, leaving the future of the building hanging in the balance. Concerns grew after English Heritage refused to recognise its historic merit – but then the Danish brewery stepped back in as the unlikely hero. In an unexpected collaboration, Carlsberg and Project Space Leeds guaranteed that The Tetley would have a future.

Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square , Manchester, Greater Manchester, M60 2LA - Visit now

Designed by Alfred Waterhouse – who also designed London’s Natural History Museum (and Manchester Museum) – Manchester Town Hall was completed in 1877 at a cost estimated to be the equivalent of £55m today. A neo-Gothic masterpiece (though Waterhouse himself rejected it as Gothic; he thought it an entirely modern style), the lower floors of the triangular building are full of ornate carvings, as well as the famous Ford Madox Brown murals.

Image courtesy of Visit Britain

Royal Liver Building

Royal Liver Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 1PW

The 1911 Royal Liver Building, one of Liverpool’s ‘Three Graces’, is interesting not only because of its iconic Liver Birds of the same name (one turned to the city watching the locals, the other turned to the Mersey looking out for those who have left), but because the way it was made. It was one of the first multi-storey buildings made using a steel-reinforced concrete structure; a method that was subsequently copied across the world, and became especially prevalent in New York.

Old Granada Studios

Old Granada Studios, Quay St, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 3HN

Arriving into Manchester by train, it was once the red neon Granada TV sign that beckoned, marking the heart of Granadaland on the city’s skyline. Built in 1956, Granada Studios was designed by architect Ralph Tubbs, who was also responsible for the Dome of Discovery, a handsome concrete and aluminum dome which sat on London’s South Bank during the Festival of Britain in 1951, and went some way to popularising the Modernist style amongst Brits in the post-war years. In his obituary, published by The Independent, Tubbs is noted as an architectural “herbivore”, rather than a carnivore; he favoured Modernism as a movement concerned with form, precision and an alliance with nature.

Park Hill Council Estate, Sheffield

Park Hill Council Estate, Sheffield, Rhodes St, Sheffield, Yorkshire, S2 5SB - Visit now

Park Hill put into practice some of the architectural theories that were circulating in the 1950s. Its architects, Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith, were young idealists, enamoured of Le Corbusier’s modernist Unité d’Habitation and his views on the social power of architecture. The idea was to keep the existing social structure intact, but transpose it into “streets in the sky”. For example, rows were named after the terraces they replaced and the decks were wide enough for milk floats and socializing. The design incorporated four pubs, a school, play areas and around thirty shops – it catered to the needs of a healthy society, all in one place. Like so many utopian visions, however, the dream didn’t last.

Park Hill Council Estate, Sheffield

Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Street, Manchester, M3 1SX - Visit now

Manchester Cathedral is, according to the Pevsner Architectural Guide, “one of the most impressive examples in England of a late medieval collegiate church”, and the building that stands today does so on the foundations of a much older house of prayer, one that dates back at least to the 13th century. It became medieval Manchester’s most important building; way back then, if you were someone who was anyone, the cathedral grounds would be your chosen place of eternal rest.

Manchester Cathedral. Illustration by Simone Ridyard.

Oriel Chambers

Oriel Chambers, 14 Water Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L2 8TD - Visit now

Oriel Chambers lies nestled between the grandeur of Water Street’s two other famous residents – Liverpool Town Hall and the Liver Building. Sit on the steps of the India Buildings opposite and admire this Grade I-listed wonder, controversial when it was first built, but described by art and history scholar Nikolaus Pevsner as “one of the most remarkable buildings of its time in Europe.”

Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower, The Blackpool Tower, The Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 4BJ - Visit now

The iconic Blackpool Tower is a stunning example of Victorian-era engineering, heavily influenced by its Parisian counterpart. Designed by the British architects James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, the tower is made of steel and is characterised by remarkable design, immense scale and ornate decorations.

Walks in Blackpool
Courtesy of The Blackpool Tower

Midland Hotel, Morecambe

Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Marine Rd W, Morecambe, Lancashire, LA4 4BU - Visit now

The Midland Hotel Morecambe is an iconic art-deco hotel that curves gracefully along the north west coast of Morecambe Bay. Grade II listed, The Midland was designed to be one of the most ambitious and progressive buildings of its time. The architect was Oliver Hill, who saw an opportunity to create the first really modern hotel of the 1930s. He achieved his goal by overseeing every last detail, from the streamline structure to the door handles.

The Midland Hotel Morecambe
actor with pig puppets The Three Little Pigs at Waterside Arts
Spotlight on

Things to do at February half term

Looking for things to do with the kids in the February half term holidays? Check out our guide.

Take me there

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.

Two Japanese girls lean their heads on their hands looking out of a window, bored.
Cinema in Manchester and the North

This month's film picks include 90s action flicks, contemporary Japanese independent cinema, and a festival curated by the next generation of film programmers.