Sports, leisure and the Arts St Peter's Square Conservation Area

St Peter's Square and its buildings today

The main characteristic of St Peter's Square conservation area is primarily one of civic grandeur, but it also contains some commercial property. It has been designated to include a more extensive area than just the square described above, in order to include several distinguished buildings. The Peace Garden, although laid out after the designation and therefore not a part of the St Peter's Square conservation area, is regarded as an important element of the same urban space.

The earliest building in the conservation area is the Friends' Meeting House on Mount Street, designed by Richard Lane and completed in 1830. It is in Greek Classical style with Ionic pedimented portico and replicates the Temple of Ilissus in Attica, a province of Greece.

Lancashire House on the corner of Peter Street and Southmill Street is a typical Manchester warehouse of the late 19th century with rusticated stone to ground floor and brick with stone dressings above.

The Midland Hotel is the epitome of the grand style in late Victorian architecture. Built close to Central Station (G-MEX), and originally intended to be linked with it, the hotel marked the terminus of the Midland Railway Company's line from London. It is a splendid example of that period, constructed in red brick, brown terra cotta and red granite with elaborately detailed gables, turrets and tourelles, and pierced terra cotta balustrades. The present owners have undertaken a major refurbishment, including reinstatement of the massive red granite entrance arches.

The former YMCA building, on the corner of Peter Street and Mount Street, is a five-storey building faced in thick terra cotta, which is brown to the ground floor and buff above, with most of the intricate, moulded decoration confined to the third and fourth floors. The requirements demanded a running track, gymnasium and swimming pool, which led to an interesting early experiment in the use of reinforced concrete, enabling the swimming pool to be located near the top, of the building. None of these internal features is retained in the refurbishment of this building, which will give the structure a new lease of life as office accommodation.

When opened in 1934 by King George V, the Central Library was the largest public library in the country. It is a Classical-style building in Portland Stone which takes inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome, with its circular plan and the central lantern light at the top of the dome. Its huge portico, supported by six Corinthian columns, emphasises the importance of St Peter's Square.

The Central Library and the Town Hall Extension were designed at the same time, and together they form a single composition with a walkway between them, thus creating one of the most dramatic urban spaces in the City.

Between the Library and the Town Hall extension stands a pair of listed cast-iron K6 telephone kiosks. These are unusual in having a crown on the top panels and margin glazing to the windows and doors.

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