Richard Lane

Place of Birth

A Quaker, Richard Lane was born in London on 3 April 1795, the son of Richard Lane. His mother's sister was the wife of the engraver-artist SW Reynolds and the young Richard Lane began as his pupil. After studying the rudiments of architecture, Lane went to complete his education as an architect in Paris in 1816-17, returning to London in 1818. About this time he accepted an invitation from Mr John Ditchfield of Leigh Place, Ardwick, through the recommendation of Joshua Corry, to supervise the erection of a house for which Lane's plans had been approved. Corry had previously urged him to set up practice in Manchester.

In Manchester he established himself as the leading architect of the 1820s and 1830s. In 1821 he was appointed Surveyor to the Manchester Police Commissioners. At this time the role of the architect had still to be established and Lane obtained employment where he could. Such early work included alterations to the staircase of Goodwin's Town Hall in King Street, alteration to the ventilation system and bookcases at the Portico Library, and proposals for the development of land owned by the Rochdale Canal Company. However, in 1822 he was elected to The Manchester Lit & Phil. In 1825 he was practising from 11 St. Ann’s Street before moving to 1, Chapel Walk, at the corner of Cross Street (Piggot's Directory, 1841).  House in Victoria Park Moved to a small villa in Sale in 1842. Director of Union Plate Glass, St. Helens. He retired in 1859 and after spending two years travelling on the continent, settled at Fir Bank, Sunninghill where he died on 1 May 1880(1). On 20 August 1827 he married Emma, the second daughter of Mr Thomas Fagg of Bedfont, Middlesex, by whom he left a son and daughter.

Commercially, Lane was the most successful of the early Manchester architects and he dominated the profession in the 1820s and 1830s. Predominantly a Classicist, he obtained a significant number of important commissions for public buildings and institutions demanded by the rapidly expanding town. Stylistically his reputation is rather less secure. Although he was an able and competent architect of some distinction, his work has been described as "chaste, Classical and rather dull" and his repertoire limited (2). His Greek Revival buildings were all restrained and finely proportioned with careful attention to detail. While the Greek Revival style was one which offered little opportunity for individual flair, his work tended to display a textbook correctness. His designs became increasingly archeological in approach as he matured and the influence of published sources and the example of Thomas Harrison become increasingly apparent in his work. Having found a successful formula for the elevational treatment of public buildings, Lane continued to repeat the same basic design with only subtle variations long after the Classical Revival had ended. Alfred Derbyshire  noted that: "His practice was almost exclusively devoted to an attempt to force upon a commercial nineteenth century town with a sunless and humid climate, the refinement and perfect beauty of the art of the Greeks in the golden age of Pericles."  Somewhat unkindly, Stewart commented that "Manchester was still far behind Athens. Cheetham Hill was singularly unlike the Acropolis and it was very doubtful if Richard Lane was among her greatest artists"

In 1837 Richard Lane became president of the first Architectural Society in Manchester with rooms in Cooper Street. The Society, which survived until 1842, had as its purpose "the diffusing of a general taste for architecture and the fine arts as well as affording members of the profession opportunities for friendly intercourse and material improvement; and to the younger members, facilities for pursuing their studies by the establishment of a library; periodic meetings for reading papers and discussions, and occasional exhibitions and conversazione."  In founding the Society, Lane was obviously concerned to improve the general standards of architecture in Manchester. In his opening address to the Society he noted his disappointment at the contemporary. "It affords little scope or encouragement for architectural display ... If we look back to the departed glories of Grecian magnificence, when Athens possessed her greatest painters, sculptors and poets, we find it was precisely at that period when her architectural splendours were at their zenith".

In the mid 1840s Lane took as pupils Alfred Waterhouse (qv), the son of a Liverpool Quaker; Richard Popplewell Pullan (qv); and John Lowe (who would subsequently take over the practice). This may in part explain Lane’s apparent success in embracing the new Gothic style at least in the churches he was commissioned to design during this period.  These included St. Simon’s, Salford; St. John’s, Isle of Man; and St Thomas's Church, Henbury, Cheshire (1844B5), described as "the model of ecclesiological rectitude, so different from the early churches that it could have been designed by another man” [Dictionary of National Biography]. Peter B Alley was also employed by Richard Lane c1842-1850, although there is no contemporary evidence that a partnership existed between the two men. Claims for such a partnership seem first to have appeared in Alfred Darbyshire’s "An Architect’s Experiences” of 1897. Although such claims were withdrawn in the Manchester press a few days after publication, and were not included in Alley’s subsequent obituary, they still persist in the numerous biographical descriptions of Alfred Waterhouse which continue to state that he was a pupil of Lane and Alley. It should further be noted that Darbyshire was never employed by Richard Lane in his Chapel Walks offices. Peter Alley had commenced independent practice in Manchester about 1850 with offices in Cross Street and later Princes’s Court, off Market Street, and it was to him alone that Darbyshire was articled in 1855.

His last recorded work before retirement was the supervision of construction of the Smedley Viaduct, following the dismissal of George Shorland as borough surveyor



Buildings and Designs

Building Name District Town/City County Country
“The Oaks” Bromley Cross, Bolton Bromley Cross  Bolton  GMCA  England
Church of St Saviour, Fold Road, Ringley: Proposed enlargement Ringley  Bolton  GMCA  England
Church of St. Mary, Church Street, Oldham   Oldham  GMCA  England
House, Leigh Place, Ardwick (atrib) Ardwick  Manchester  GMCA  England
Proposed Enlargement: Manchester Infirmary and Dispensary, Piccadilly Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Tiviot Dale Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Lancashire Hill, Heaton Norris, Stockport Heaton Norris  Stockport  GMCA  England
Church of St. John the Baptist, Tideswell, Derbyshire   Tideswell  Derbyshire  England
Old Exchange and Reference Library, Victoria Square, Bolton   Bolton  GMCA  England
Salford Town Hall and Assembly Rooms, Bexley Square, Chapel Street, Salford   Salford  GMCA  England
Brickwork and Fitting out of Shops: Salford Market (Town Hall)   Salford  GMCA  England
Standings: Salford Market (Town Hall)   Salford  GMCA  England
Mansion: Cheetham Hill (atrib) Cheetham Hill  Manchester  GMCA  England
Houses: Crescent, Crumpsall Crumpsall  Manchester  GMCA  England
Houses, Leaf Square, Salford (atrib) Pendleton  Salford  GMCA  England
Alterations St Peter Chapelry Swinton Swinton  Salford  GMCA  England
Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Church of St Thomas, Broad Street, Pendleton Pendleton  Salford  GMCA  England
The Blue-coat School Horsedge Street, Oldham   Oldham  GMCA  England
Chorlton Town Hall & Dispensary Grosvenor Square, All Saints All Saints  Manchester  GMCA  England
Stockport Infirmary, Wellington Road South   Stockport  GMCA  England
The West Riding Proprietary (Later Grammar) School, Northgate, Wakefield   Wakefield  Yorkshire  England
New Organ and Case; St. Andrew's Church, Ancoats Ancoats  Manchester  GMCA  England
The Union Club‑House, Mosley Street, Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Emmanuel Church, Wargrave Road, Newton‑le‑Willows Newton-le-Willows  St Helens  Merseyside  England
St. John the Evangelist Murray Street, Higher Broughton, Salford Higher Broughton  Salford  GMCA  England
Sunday School, Todd Street and Long Millgate, Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Corn Exchange, Hanging Ditch, Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Internal Fittings: Manchester Town Hall King Street Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester and Salford Asylum for Female Penitents, Emden Place, Greenheys Greenheys  Manchester  GMCA  England
Lodges, Rusholme Green Entrance, Victoria Park Rusholme  Manchester  GMCA  England
Hope Park Estate Pendleton Hope  Pendleton  GMCA  England
Lodge and Entrance Gates. Hope Park Hope  Pendleton  GMCA  England
Henshaw’s Blind Asylum and Deaf and Dumb School, Old Trafford, Manchester Old Trafford  Manchester  GMCA  England
Church of St Stephen (RC) off Gargrave Road, Skipton   Skipton  Yorkshire  England
South Lancashire Bank Buildings, Fountain Street and York Street, Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Works for the Union Plate Glass Company, Pocket Nook, St Helens Pocket Nook  St Helens  GMCA  England
Roman Catholic Church, Manchester (Architectural Competition)     GMCA  England
Victoria Park, Manchester     GMCA  England
Ten Villas, Victoria Park     GMCA  England
Park Villa, Victoria Park Victoria Park  Manchester  GMCA  England
Egerton House : Upper Park Road, Victoria Park Victoria Park  Manchester  GMCA  England
House : Upper Park Road, Victoria Park (atrib) Victoria Park  Manchester  GMCA  England
House, Lower Park Road, Victoria Park Victoria Park  Manchester  GMCA  England
Proposed Church, Victoria Park     GMCA  England
Alterations St Peter’s Church Stockport, Cheshire     GMCA  England
Beech Cottage (later Beechfield) High Lawn Bowdon.     GMCA  England
Dingle Bank East Dingle Bank West     GMCA  England
Groby Place, Altrincham   Altrincham  GMCA  England
Parochial Schools, Bowdon Bowdon  Altrincham  GMCA  England
Church of St Thomas: Henbury cum Pexall, near Macclesfield, Cheshire Henbury  Macclesfield  Cheshire  England
Bowden Hall, Chapel‑en‑le‑Frith, Derbyshire:   Chapel‑en‑le‑Frith  Derbyshire  England
Richmond Independent Chapel, Broughton Road, Salford Richmond Hill  Salford  GMCA  England
Queen’s Theatre, Spring Gardens, Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Independent Chapel and Schoolrooms, Broad Street, Pendleton, Salford Pendleton  Salford  GMCA  England
St. Johns Church. German, Isle of Man   St John's  German  Isle of Man
Woodville House Douglas Isle of Man (atrib)   Douglas    Isle of Man
Church of St. Simon, Springfield Lane Salford   Salford  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Lunatic Hospital St Ann’s Road Stockport Etchells Stickport Etchells  Stockport  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Infirmary: Improvements Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Infirmary: South Wing Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Infirmary: East Wing Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Infirmary: New Entrance Lodges Gates and Iron Railings Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Infirmary: North Wing Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Bell Turret to Chapel of the Blind and Deaf and Dumb Institutes, Old Trafford Old Trafford  Stretford  GMCA  England
Monument to James Wood JP, Oxford Road Wesleyan Chapel Chorlton-on-Medlock  Manchester  GMCA  England
Memorial Tablet Bowdon Church   Bowdob  GMCA  England
Baptist Chapel, Claremont Terrace Bridge Street, Strangeways Manchester Strangeways  Manchester  GMCA  England
Semi Detached Gothic Houses, Richmond Grove, Longsight Longsight  Manchester  GMCA  England
Public Hall, 62 King Street, Wigan   Wigan  GMCA  England
Piccadilly - Statues to Robert Peel and Wellington     GMCA  England
Fever Wards (Manchester Royal Infirmary?)     GMCA  England
Dalton Memorial, Ardwick Cemetery, Manchester Ardwick  Manchester  GMCA  England
Memorial to Dr Robert Stephens McAll, Rusholme Road Cemetery     GMCA  England
Warehouse. Newton Street, Dale Street and Port Street Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
National School, Thorley Lane Timperley Timperley  Altrincham  GMCA  England
Manchester Royal Infirmary: Improvements Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Smedley Viaduct Smedley  Manchester  GMCA  England