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Manchester was the world's first industrial city. It was here that the industrial revolution came of age, and where the spinning mule and the steam engine, the heart of the British cotton industry, came together for the first time. The area grew piecemeal within a grid pattern of streets laid out in the 1790s. Alongside the mills can be found Manchester's first municipal housing (Victoria Square), the Daily Express "black glass" building and the Methodist Women's night shelter (the Derros Building), all buildings of great merit in their own right. At the centre of the area is the landmark building of the Romanesque church of St. Peter's, newly restored and acting as a symbol of Ancoats' growing regeneration from its former dereliction. Part of the area, along with Castlefield, Worsley (in Salford) and the canal network that links them, has been included on the UK Government's shortlist of tentative World Heritage Sites.

Map of Ancoats

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Ancoats Conservation Area

Ancoats Conservation Area The 50-acre Conservation Area currently contains thirteen listed buildings, seven of them Grade 2* with several further listings anticipated. The majority of the listed structures are the familiar Ancoats Mills (the factories of the world's first industrial suburb) but the area also includes examples of workers' housing of all periods from the 1790s, pubs, churches and a former primary school with rooftop playground. In light of the World Heritage Site nomination, it is particularly important that the best examples of all the building types represented in the area are conserved and brought back into use to tell the Ancoats story.


St Peter's Church:

Designed by Issac Holden and consecrated in 1860, St Peter's was created to mark a presence of the established church in an area with a large population - some 14,000 people lived in the 50-acre parish. The church was of brick rather than the preferred stone as it was built with charitable money and there was a need to economise. The church provided 1,350 sittings and the construction cost £4,200 including the bell. The building fell into disuse in the 1960s and was almost completely derelict when ABPT took ownership of it in 1998. A first-phase restoration project was undertaken, with grants totalling almost £500,000 from English Heritage, Eastside Regeneration and charitable trusts but the building remained a stripped-out shell. ABPT, however, secured £1.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Northwest Development Agency and the full restoration of the church was completed in June 2006. The building is now ready for conversion to publicly accessible but financially viable new uses. More information on St Peter's

Murrays' Mill complex:
Old Mill (1798), Decker Mill (1799), New Mill (1802), Murray Street Block (1804), Grade II*

Restored Murrays' MillsA mill complex of international importance, associated with the development of the steam-driven mule. Subject of a successful £7m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application by Ancoats Buildings Preservation Trust. Two parallel 6-7 storey mills with side wings built around a courtyard which contained a canal basin (formerly infilled and now reinstated) linked to the adjacent Rochdale Canal. The early steam power was supplied by Boulton and Watt engines. The mill buildings were restructured early in the 19th century by replacing the double line of cast iron columns with a single row (with various bracketry methods to carry timber floor beams) to accommodate larger machinery. In extremely poor condition, the mills scored highly on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register. The HLF project began in September 2004, and was completed in August 2006. The project comprised the shell repair of building fabric and structure and reinstatement of canal basin by ABPT. The complex will be converted to residential, commercial and leisure uses by Burrellinpartnership. More information on Murrays' Mills

Urban Splash development of Waulk MillWaulk Mill, Bengal Street and Redhill Street, 1842 (Listed Grade II*) ( Originally known as Fire Proof Mill or Doubling Mill)
This mill was an extension to the Murrays' Mills complex and linked by personnel tunnels under Bengal Street. The mill has recently been refurbished and converted by Urban Splash to provide office accommodation.

Dixon's millDixon's, Jersey Street / Radium Street/ Bengal Street, 1908 (Listed Grade II) (Originally known as New Little Mill)
This building replaced an earlier mill of 1820. Constructed in Accrington brick with concrete floors, it is unusual in design for this area, being more like the mills of Bolton and Leigh. It was powered by electricity and is thought to be Manchester's first mill to be run from the Corporation mains system. The building is currently vacant and in deteriorating condition, but has been acquired by the NWDA to facilitate its return to the market. It is possible that the building may be converted into a multi-storey carpark.

Victoria Square

Victoria SquareThis block of flats was opened in 1894 and was the first building of the major re-housing scheme that the Manchester Corporation undertook. The building was intended for 848 people in 237 double tenements and 48 single. The flats had internal bathrooms and the Square had shared laundries with drying facilities in the top rooms of the corner towers - an attempt to rid homes of the damp air from drying clothes and thus reduce bronchial complaints. The property continues to be in local authority ownership and now provides accommodation for senior citizens.

The Express Building

This former Northern headquarters of the Daily Express newspaper was designed by Owen Williams and built in 1939. Originally it was possible to see into the building to watch the huge presses turning the daily editions of the Express. The presses were stripped out and mirror film adhered to the window as part of its conversion for office use in the early 1990s. Immediately to the left of the main entrance stood Whittaker's Furniture Store, which was only demolished when the building was converted to office use. When first built, the Daily Express owners were unable to purchase the Whittaker's site and thus had to construct their building around it. This new corner of the present building follows Owen William's original plans.

Royal Mill Complex

The Royal Mill Complex is currently undergoing refurbishment and conversion to mixed uses by a ING Real Estate.

Royal Mill Complex, includes:

Royal Mill
a) Sedgwick Mill, 1818-20 (Listed Grade II):
This building was designed by James Lowe in association with Sir William Fairburn. Of fireproof construction, except for its timber roof, the building contained an internal engine house. It is now fully converted to residential and business uses.

b) Sedgwick New Mill, Redhill Street: Following the "cotton famine" of the 1860s and the introduction of larger mules, the more successful cotton firms needed to expand their mills. Houldsworths of Newton Street moved the whole enterprise to Reddish, creating a company town. McConnel and Kennedy of Ancoats internally reconstructed their existing mills and added the L-shaped New Mill to avoid relocation and keep the competitive edge of their city site. It is now converted to residential and business use.

Paragon Millc) Paragon Mill, Jersey Street, 1912 (Listed Grade II*):
This flat-roofed mill was built at the same time as Royal Mill in 1912 as an extension to Sedgwick Mill. It was driven by electric motor from the Corporation mains and still has one of the original motors in situ. It has concrete floors carried on transverse steel beams and cast iron columns. It is therefore very deep in plan and structurally robust. The building is currently 'mothballed'.

Royal Milld) Royal Mill, Redhill Street, 1912 (Listed Grade II*):
Old Mill was demolished and in 1912 the Royal Mill was erected on the site. It received its name following a visit by King George VI in 1942. The construction and power system is exactly as used in Paragon Mill. The building is currently 'mothballed'.

Beehive Mill, 1824, Grade II*, extended c. 1850:
Fireproof construction including oversized timber beams and stone flag floors / ceilings. Erected as a power and loom establishment rented to multiple tenants. Also known as 'Sankey's', the building was converted in 1996 to office / workspace accommodation, predominantly aimed at the music industry.

Ice Plant Building, c1860:
Originally built for the storage of fruit, vegetables and fish, this Italianate warehouse had an attached ice-making plant from which it acquired its name. In the 1880s the immigrant Italian community in Ancoats took great advantage from the Ice Plant's surplus ice - for making ice cream. Over 70 ice cream barrow businesses were founded in houses in Ancoats (including the Granelli brand) and several remain in small workshops in the area today. Refurbishment and extension proposals are currently under development.

Gun Street Warehouse, No.5, Jersey Street, c1830:
A very attractive example of small-scale commercial development with inset "taking in" doors and protective rubbing strakes. For many years it was home of Kirkham and Platt printers. Briefly occupied by a manufacturer of street organs. It has recently been repaired as part of the wider 'Sarah Village' scheme.
Derros Building:
For unknown reasons, this former Methodists' Women's Night Shelter is known locally as the Derros Building. The attractive Arts and Crafts style building, with its half-timbered gable facing Great Ancoats Street provided accommodation, sewing classes and a coffee tavern. ABPT was involved in the rescue and 'enveloping' of this building, which has recently been converted into flats by, amongst others, the Manchester Methodist Housing Association.

Thanks to Ian Finlay for use of some of the above photos.
© Ancoats BPT 2004