Friday, 10 July 2015

A fashionable address in Manchester

Mosley Street in the city centre was laid out in the 1780’s and named after the lord of the manor. The area was entirely residential and very fashionable. Here lived Manchester’s greatest merchants and businessmen. Hugh Birley was a cotton spinner and manufacturer of rubber goods. S. L. Behrens was the founder of the firm of shipping merchants and Nathan Meyer Rothschild
was of the banking family.
Mosley Street

In 1827 Henry Charles Lacy converted a house at the corner of Mosley Street and Market Street into an hotel and allowed rooms in the building to be used for warehousing. A rash of house conversions and warehouse building
followed over the next decade and property values soared. One house was
sold in 1832 for eight thousand guineas, twice its’ value of only five years earlier. By the end of the thirties, Mosley Street consisted almost entirely of
warehouses, the former residents having moved to the new suburbs such as Victoria Park and Didsbury.

Victoria Park was opened in 1837. An area of 140 acres had been obtained
by a company of gentlemen in order to build villas which would be let for between £100 and £250 per annum. The notable architect, Richard Lane was
engaged to design the park, laying out roadways, boundaries and landscaping and designing the gate lodges. The park had its’ own tollgates, walls and police.

By December of the following year only nine houses had been completed and the company was bankrupt. A new group, The Victoria Park Trust was
founded. Within the next five years a further sixty five houses had been built.
These were often large mansions with extensive gardens and required a
sizeable staff to maintain them. By the end of the nineteenth century, these
villas were already being converted into hotels, colleges and nursing homes.
Their weathy residents had been tempted to move further from the city to the newly fashionable area such as Bowden and Alderley Edge.

The building of Victoria Park was by a number of architects in addition to
Lane, Edward Salomons built "Hirstwood" and his own home, “The Gables”. In Daisy Bank Road is the Grade 1 listed “First Church of Christ, Scientist” built by Edgar Wood in 1903 and on Lower Park Road the Xaverian College by Alfred Waterhouse, now a Roman Catholic school for 2000 pupils. St Chrysostom's Church in Oxford Place is by Redmayne.
Daisy Bank Road

The park was home to a number of notable residents. 102 Daisy Bank Road
was the house of Charles Halle and was later occupied by Ford Madox Brown at
the time when he was painting the murals in Manchester Town Hall.
Richard Cobden was a calico printer and political activist. In Newton Street lived Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement and in nearby
Plymouth Grove was the home of author Elizabeth Gaskell. Marie Nordlinger and Martin Solibakke were both writers; Elias Bancroft, a painter and George
Hadfield a lawyer and radical polititian who played a leading role in
establishing the Anti Corn Law League. People from a number of nationalities
lived in Victoria Park including a large chinese merchant community.

Nearby in Hathersage Road is Victoria Baths. Opened in 1906, the building
contained three swimming pools, private baths, a turkish bath, laundry and
jacuzzi. The main pool could be covered to provide a dance floor. Closed in
1993, this magnificently decorated building was subject of an appeal, which
culminated in winning the BBC restoration programme and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The baths are now in the process of being renovated.

Today many of the buildings are used as university residences whilst others
have been converted into flats. Victoria Park is a conservation area and twenty of its buildings are listed. There is still an hotel and The Park is the location of the Chinese and Pakistani consulates.

Walking his elephant Maharajah from Edinburgh to Belle Vue Zoo, the
handler got into an argument with the toll keeper over the appropriate charge
for the animal to pass through Victoria Park. The confrontation ended when
Maharajah simply removed the toll bar and continued on his way.

For further information, the Rusholme Archive has an extensive illustrated history which includes Victoria Park :

The Pankhurst Centre in Newton Street.
Victoria Baths
Church of Christ Scientist, Victoria Park by architect Edgar Wood
Victoria Park
Victoria Park Gates

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