Thursday, 25 October 2012

High Victorian Manchester

Still catching up with last week's travel posts. On Thursday I was in Manchester, staying at the Britannia Hotel, a former warehouse that had undergone extensive restoration as a hotel in the 1980s. The Watts Warehouse, built in 1856, was a wholesale drapery warehouse, intended to impress with its grandeur and scale. Looking at the external facade, each story is built in a different architectural style, topped off with huge faux-Gothic circular windows at either end.

But it is inside that the building really bowls one over. The central staircase is magnificent. I was lucky enough to be staying on a day when the mid-morning sunshine shone strong and low in through the windows on the back of the building.

Looking down from the fourth floor: I wish I had taken my 10-24mm super-wide angle zoom; the standard 18mm wide-end on most Nikon DX-format lenses isn't wide enough.

Imagine being here in the late 1850s; no lifts, just these stairs to take buyers from one level to the next in search of merchandise that would sell in their shops. The sumptuous nature of the warehouse interior would be most persuasive.

The day after staying at the Britannia Hotel, I visited my brother in Derbyshire, who showed me a fabulous book about the ruins of post-industrial Detroit (first brought to my attention by AdTheLad). Poring over the pages of derelict factories, warehouses, theatres, hospitals and schools, I am most grateful that Britain has managed to hang on to its more meaningful industrial-era buildings and put them to new uses.

If you are staying or visiting Manchester, the Britannia Hotel is an absolute must-see.

This time three years ago:
The clocks go back - but when should they go forward?

This time four years ago:
Warsaw's first Metro line is completed

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