The Urban landscape: Urban Building Types

There have been a number of surveys of surviving urban build types from the Industrial Period. Historic England sponsored a survey of urban and suburban public houses in England built between the First World War and the Second World War. This features case studies for several establishments in North West England: The Coach & Horses, Carlisle (C); The Blackburne Arms, & The Farmers’ Arms, both in Liverpool (M); The Primrose Inn, Wallasey (M); The Wheatsheaf, Sutton Leach, St Helens (M); and The White Swan Hotel, Swinton, Salford (GM) (Cole 2015). The project focused on the urban and suburban inter-war public house in England, and was aimed at increasing the levels of understanding, awareness, and heightening the levels of protection afforded  them. It discussed notable architects, architectural styles employed, active breweries, and the ideals of pub improvement. Buildings considered include ‘improved’ or ‘reformed’ pubs – which usually featured rooms for entertainment, dining, and non-alcoholic refreshment – as well as pubs built on more traditional lines. The project reflects the high level of threat now faced by England’s pubs, and the high rates of closure, alteration and demolition.

Less well recorded have been the market halls of the Industrial Period. An exception is the Grade 2 listed 19th century Market House in Altrincham, surveyed during restoration. The building is a large rectangular structure of restrained Classical appearance, displaying the palette of building materials – notably cream, red and grey-brown brick – typical of 1870s-1880s Altrincham and its suburbs. Another example of a recently surveyed and refurbished market hall is in Stockport, in the old market place. The cast-iron and glass covered market opened in 1861, but archaeological excavation and documentary study showed it was the successor to market activity on this site going back to the medieval period (Arrowsmith 2010). Both buildings are significant examples of the Victorian market halls built in Greater Manchester, a considerable number of which no longer survive (Miller 2014).

In Barrow-in-Furness (C), a 19th century steam-powered corn mill was completely excavated ahead of redevelopment. This provides a rare excavated glimpse of the fully-developed urban corn mill and the complexity and size of the associated steam-power facilities (Elsworth & Whitehead 2010).

In Greater Manchester archaeology planning conditions have enabled the excavation of most of the site of the remarkable New Bailey Prison in Salford, work undertaken by Salford University. This was a reform prison designed and built in the years 1787-90 to a radial plan and intended to be self-financing through the work of the prisoners. Excellent remains of the 1815 extension have been revealed including the workshop range and prison cells with exercise yards. Three of the six development plots affecting the prison site have been excavated. The investigations have included community involvement and guided tours/open days. A monograph is in preparation. This is one of the most extensive and important prison site excavations undertaken in this country in recent years (Nevell & Reader 2015). Lancaster Prison, within Lancaster Castle, has been the subject archaeology building survey in the last few years, although this remains unpublished.

New Bailey Prison, Salford, Greater Manchester (courtesy of Salford Archaeology)

Elsewhere in Greater Manchester at Leaf Street, Hulme, Salford Archaeology have revealed and recorded the well-preserved remains of a first-class bathing pool, one of three that were part of the public baths established here in the mid-19th century on the site of an 1840’s workhouse, very little of which survived (Salford Archaeology 2016). The context for this building type was provided by an MA study of the development of municipal baths, including examples from the city of Manchester, was published in 2010 (Marino 2010).

In Rochdale, The Broadwater Centre (GM) was originally the Lea Hall Baths built in 1868 by Rochdale Corporation. The building has a two-storey almost symmetrical front elevation designed in classical style by local architect, E. N. Macdougall; this is the only part of the building with any architectural pretension. There were two pools of equal size for men, as first and second class, and a smaller ladies’ pool. A boiler house was added in around 1900 to the rear, and the chimney is truncated. Both main pools have metal truss roofs and retain some original features, but their spatial character is obscured by inserted ceilings and floors over the pools. The ladies’ pool retains the roof and, possibly, also structure in the basement (not seen). It has not been used as a bath since the late 1930s, when new baths opened on Entwisle Road, Rochdale. A major refurbishment at an unknown date in the late 20th century re-modelled the entrance, provided new stairs, new exterior door and windows, new ancillary facilities and the inserted suspended ceilings and new wall coverings (AHP, 2014). Another set of public baths were recorded at Entwisle Street site in Rochdale (GM) ahead of demolition (ArcHeritage 2010). These were a fine example of a mid-1930s Art Deco public baths.