Building Name

Art Treasures Building Old Trafford

1856 - 1857
Old Trafford, Manchester
GMCA, England
New build
C D Young and Company, Edinburgh

FORMAL COMMENCEMENT OF THE BUILDING – Yesterday afternoon the formal ceremony of laying the base for the first pillar of the building for the Arts Treasures Exhibition at Old Trafford, was performed by Mr Thomas Fairbairn, chairman of the executive committee.   …. The pillar of which the base was laid yesterday will be the middle one of 77 along the south side of the building (that towards the railway); and the base is so constructed, that while forming part of a longitudinal tie, it also forms part of a drain-pipe into which rainwater from the roof will fall, after descending trough the pillars, which will be hollow. [Manchester Guardian 14 August 1856 page 3]

PROGRESS THE ART TREASURES EXHIBITION. In addition to the progress of the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, particularly in the way of promised pictures, noticed elsewhere have to record one or two facts noticed in a visit to the building yesterday. The general view of the structure, as seen from Stretford Road, is unlike any other building in Manchester and must at once impress the observer with the special and distinctive character of the exhibition. The principal road and approaches to the building were commenced yesterday. A broad roadway, suitable for any amount of carriage and pedestrian use, will lead from Stretford Road to the entrance; it will be twenty yards wide, and thirty yards in front of the building. Those persons who have not yet visited the site of the exhibition will find a journey thither repay them, sufficient progress having been made to enable an estimate to be formed of the vast proportions and general appearance of the structure. The principal facade, facing Stretford Road, nearly finished, and the bold central arch has a striking effect. This portion of the building has a solid look, compared with the light iron-work of the long nave and side Steles, and in its present stage the erection may be likened to the magnified skeleton of some gigantic saurian; the facade forming the skull, and the main body of the budding the skeleton trunk. Following out the idea, we may add that -several of the iron ribs of the monster have been put in during the last few days. These immense girders, which span the nave, are brought in pieces from the foundry of the builders, Messrs C. D. Young and Company, Edinburgh, and are riveted together on the spot whence they are to be raised. There were four of these ribs in their places yesterday the east end, (Stretford Road), and two at west end, near the Botanical Gardens; the intention being to work from both ends of the building, tunnel fashion, and meet in the centre. The nave will be open throughout its great length more than seven hundred feet, and will form a magnificent promenade, when filled with statuary, flowers, and gaily attired visitors, with music and fountains playing. There will be few pictures in the nave, the side aisles, termed the picture galleries" being entirely devoted to their display, where they will admit of classified arrangement. Nearly all the iron-work is now upon the ground, and the greater portion of the pillars, etc. are fixed. The flooring is also down, but the boards are not all fasten; they will be placed a little apart to promote ventilation and clearance from dust. No point seems to have been over-looked that can promote the success of the enterprise, and the comfort of visitors, who will be conveyed by rail into the building, so that the public will find the exhibition as approachable on a wet as on a fine day. The foundation for the railway corridor to connect it with the Altrincham Railway is laid down, and this portion the work will be pushed on with all speed.

The neat and substantial "pavilion," erected by the Manchester Cricket Club, the former owners of the ground, furnishes exceedingly convenient set of offices for the architect, Edward Salomons, Esq., and his assistants, number of whom are always busy preparing working plans. Everyone connected with the works is confident that the building will be ready on the first of January, according to agreement, the breaking of which will entail the forfeiture a thousand pounds. There will then be ample time to decorate and furnish the exhibition with the priceless treasures of art of the richest empire in the world, before the "merry month of May," the committee having fixed upon the first as their "opening day."  [Manchester Courier 25 October 1856 page 7]

THE ARTS TREASURES EXHIBITION BUILDING - We said yesterday that those who feared that the building at Old Trafford would not be completed by the contractors (Messrs C.D. Young and Company) so as to be handed over to the executive committee early in January, forget the speed with which such an erection could be carried on, when once the groundworks was completed and all the iron upon the spot. We confess that we were not prepared for what we found yesterday afternoon had been effected since noon on Monday; for already a decided advance has been made with the placing of the four rows of pillars which mark the centre and side aisles of the great hall, and in the fixing of the girders upon them. When work is commenced at the opposite end and, the doily progress will seem almost marvellous.

The base plates, connected with the line of drain-pipes, being laid perfectly level; the upper surface of the iron being as true a plane as possible, and the bottom of each pillar being similarly prepared; it is only necessary to raise a pillar and lower it upon the base to secure that it is perfectly perpendicular. A few bolts secure the pillar to the base; and the addition of the girders and roof principals, only tend to increase the stability of the base fastenings. The roof principals are semi-circular; they are sent from the contractor's works in sections which are riveted upon the ground. Those for the great hall, which are 56 feet span, are composed of double sheets of iron, strongly riveted, with T irons at each edge giving to each principal a depth of 16 inches. In the centre of the great hall, there will be no trusses to the principals; the ridge principals for the side aisles, 24 feet span, and the semi-circular ones for the picture galleries. 48 feet span, will be trussed. The pillars to which we have referred are 24 feet apart; so that those which were being placed yesterday form a series of 24 feet bays with a span of 58 feet between them. The roof principals will be only 12 feet apart in the great hall; one being placed upon each couple of pillars, and one between them upon an ornamental bracket cast on the girder. The two lines of external standards will only be 8 feet apart; and the sheets of corrugated iron being of that length, with the corrugations running horizontally, there will be no perpendicular lines of sheet joinings between the pillars, which could only prove a disfigurement

The transepts will commence 480 feet from the Inner line of the brick front, there being 20 pillars in each row up to it; and its further line will be 96 feet from the back of the building, there being four pillars on that side. The transept is formed by continuing the great hall (centre and side aisles) to the sides of the building, thus giving two arms each 48 feet long and 104 feet wide; or, taking the great aisle only, with its semi-circular roof, which be the main mark of the transept, the arms will each be 96 feet long by 56 feet wide. Mr. E. Solomons, the architect, has designed a very beautiful floriated window for each end of the transept. The design divides itself into three parts, all worked out in iron, for the frame. As these windows will present a large extent glass to the action of the wind, Mr Salomons has adopted a mode of strengthening them which it is believed will greatly add to their appearance externally. The framework of the inner and middle divisions of the design will be reproduced, and fixed on the outside, in line with the corresponding portions of the window, but at a distance of 12 feet.  These affixed portions will not be glazed; and while they will act as screens and servo to break the force of the wind, it is believed that a play of light and shade will be secured, which will give to the windows a novel and very rich appearance.

We may add that, as one of the precautions against damage by fire, the ground space is divided into patches 12 feet wide, by brick walls, varying in height with the fall of the ground; while other walls run lengthwise on each side of the great hall. Thus, from the flooring boards being actually in contact with so many lines of brick, in the event of such a thing as a fire, the spread of the flames would be speedily checked; while the plan adopted also prevents a current of air passing under the flooring, as would be the case ordinarily, and which would have a most injurious effect if by any accident, unforeseen or unprovided against, the flooring boards should ever become ignited. [Manchester Guardian 15 October 1856 page 3]

Reference    Builder 16 August 1856 page 446 and illustration page 447
Reference    Manchester Guardian 14 August 1856 page
Reference    Manchester Guardian 15 October 1856 page 3
Reference    Manchester Courier 25 October 1856 page 7
Reference    Builder 1 November 1856 page 598 - progress of works
Reference    Builder 8 November 1856 page 613 - collapse of arch
Reference    Suzanne Fagence Cooper “Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, Antiques, June 2001