Manchester Town Hall

Andrew Anderson, Theatre Editor
Posted
Image courtesy of Visit Britain

Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square , Manchester, M60 2LA – Visit Now

Tick, tock, goes the clock. Get bird’s eye view of the city via Manchester Town Hall’s walking tour

If you were going to explore a city, the most obvious way would be to walk it on foot. But how about touring it from the sky? Manchester Town Hall clock tours allow you to do just that, by taking you to the top of one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks and giving you a panoramic view of the streets 280 feet below. It also gives you the chance to hear one of Manchester’s most distinctive sounds up close and personal: the chime of eight-ton bell, Great Abel.

This is a walking tour that takes you up the twisting stone staircases of the Town Hall, through meandering corridors littered with history. As well as the things you might expect, such as the busts and silverware, there are also a few surprises. Who knew that the corridors of Manchester Town Hall are often used as TV stand-ins for the Houses of Parliament, for example, or that builders some 50 years ago wrote the words “City are magic” into one of the wooden beams using nails? The mechanism of the clock itself is also a thing of wonder, and when a quarter hour is struck it grinds and clicks with industrial power.

It’s a new way of looking at the city, through the eyes of one of its oldest residents – the Town Hall clock itself

Designed by Alfred Waterhouse – who also designed London’s Natural History Museum (and Manchester Museum) – the 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. The upper floors are, however, plainer, having been built with civic function in mind; these rooms and hallways are still used for administration, giving the place a feeling of being a living part of Manchester rather than just a dusty relic.

Aside from the wonderful clock and fine architecture, it is the view of Manchester that is the most impressive thing about this tour. When you step out of the clock tower and onto the 360-degree viewing platform it’s hard not to be taken aback by the sight of the city stretching into the distance. It’s a new way of looking at the city, through the eyes of one of its oldest residents – the Town Hall clock itself.

  • Albert Square
  • Manchester
  • M60 2LA
  • View map

Opening Hours

  • Mon: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Tue: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Wed: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Thu: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Fri: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Sat: 11:00am – 4:00pm
  • Sun: Closed
  • Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit

Admission Charges

Free

Services and Facilities

guided tours, café

Accessibility

Wheelchair ramp at the Lloyd Street entrance, the two entrances to the Town Hall extension are at street level with no steps.

Commercial and hire services

Available for hire