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The Council and democracy A History of Manchester Town Hall

History of Manchester Town Hall Extension

On completion of the Central Reference Library in St Peter's Square in 1934, work began immediately on constructing the Town Hall Extension.  Designed by Vincent Harris, as a result of an open competition, (he had also designed the Central Library next door), it was to be eight storeys high and intended to house various growing municipal departments including gas, electricity, rates, rents, street cleaning and so on, and a cinema with demonstration rooms beneath ground level.

Its 200 foot southern wall was curved to parallel the library next door, separated by the Library Walk between.  Many authorities consider this to be Harris's best work.  It also includes a large council chamber at first floor level.  The total cost of the building was £750,000 and it was opened officially by King George VI in 1938.  A commemoration in the form of a carved inset stone on the library side at the Mount Street end marks the occasion.

The Extension is connected by two covered bridges to the main Town Hall building.  On the Mount Street side is a covered arcade, and on the opposite side, in St Peter's Square, is the official City of Manchester Visitor Centre, providing tourist information.

Stylistically, the building is Gothic in character, with heavy masonry, deep-pierced ornately carved tracery effects, and a typically steeply pitched roof, yet interpreted in a modern style in Darley Dale stone.  Internally it has stained glass windows by George Kruger Gray, which represent ancient Lancastrian Coats of Arms.

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