Friday, 11 January 2013

Where have all the buildings gone?

Over the last fifty years the city of Manchester has been undertaking change. The 1960s saw extensive re-development of the city with the slums areas being cleared and new buildings taking their places. The detonation of an IRA bomb in the city centre in 1996 destroyed many buildings (although fortunately no lives were lost) and was a catalyst for the regeneration of many of the run down areas of the city.

Today sees a Manchester populated with high rise buildings and new developments, a far cry from the slum areas of old. The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes opened up its services in many of these poorer parts of the city. Consequently few of its original buildings remain today.

Plan of Central Refuge, 1895 

What the archive does provide for some of these homes however are various plans detailing how the inside of the buildings would have looked. The plan above for example shows the ground floor of the Central Refuge on Francis Street in 1895. By this point the Refuge (which had several floors) had been extended to cater for 120 boys and contained amongst its many rooms, an infirmary, gymnasium and swimming pool as well as dormitories and rooms for the Master and Matron. The Refuge consisted of four buildings that had been knocked down to cater for it and was a large establishment in Strangeways. Unfortunately nothing of the building remains today.   

The ‘Covered Gymnasium’

The only charity building that does still exist in the city centre is the Children’s Shelter and Remand Home which was located on Chatham Street, Piccadilly. Although the sign below has long been changed the building remains and even the fencing on the roof (where those children on remand got fresh air) can still be seen.  

Sign adorning the Children's Shelter, 1910

Although it is sad to see so many of our old buildings demolished, the benefits to Manchester itself are obvious. And as the city has changed so has the charity. We hope however that our support remains set in stone for many years to come. 

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