Manchester’s magnificent and multi-volumed municipal library re-opened in March 2014 after a multi-million pound refit and has proved an endless source of fascination to locals, visitors and tourists.
At once it is reassuringly familiar (the exquisitely domed reading room) and mind-boggingly different (the ground floor area, so wonderfully opened up and now hi-tech).
The building, which opened in 1934, has even been segued with the adjacent Town Hall Extension in various ingenious ways. (Both were designed by Emmanuel Vincent Harris, whose best known work is the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall).
Since reopening the good folk who run the Library have allowed us to host monthly talks on aspects of Manchester history (see the Library’s Archives+ website). They have also sent a number of groups (U3A, Probus etc) our way to conduct private tours of the newly-revamped buildings, and so we have also decided to run public tours of this wonderful building.
We will show you around this Romanesque revival masterpiece updated for the 21st century while revealing the surprising history of the various incarnations of this library (the first such library in Manchester was opened by Charles Dickens in 1852), outline the best stories of this building, show off fascinating pictures of the earlier Manchester libraries and explain who all the famous folk are on the top floor.
And a real treat at the end; we will espy some of the most remarkable artefacts from the collection: priceless first editions and barely-believable rarities.