Building Name

Chorlton Poor Law Guardians Offices Ormond Street- Cavendish Street All Saints

1879 - 1881
GMCA, England
New Build

CHORLTON UNION NEW OFFICES - This design was selected in competition for new offices by the Guardians of the Chorlton Union. It having been decided by the Board to erect new offices, in consequence of the present premises not being adapted to their requirements. The authors are Messrs. Mangnall & Littlewoods, of Manchester. The building is situated at the junction of Grosvenor Square and Cavendish-street, on the old site, enlarged by taking in the premises occupied by the Nursery Institute, thereby making a frontage of over 100 ft. to each street. The old buildings are now cleared away, and the Guardians have accepted Mr. James Herd's tender, amounting to £9,537, and he is proceeding with the new works. The ground-floor is devoted to the administrative department. The principal entrance is from Grosvenor-snare, and leads to the various offices, being used by the Guardians and by people who have business with the Board. The entrance for the poor is from the loading or cart- way, which is placed in Grosvenor-square, at the north end of the plot. The entrance for vagrants is from Lyceum-place. An iron gate, fixed in the loading way, separates the vagrants' portion from the rest of the building, and it will be the duty of the porter to close this gateway at six o'clock each evening, thereby keeping vagrants entirely isolated from the rest of the occupants. To the left of the principal entrance first described, after passing through the vestibule, which will have glass doors, will be Mr. Edgill's office, with an ante-room adjoining to a passage communicating therefrom to the registrar's offices, which will be of ample size, with a large- sized fire-proof room for the storage of books and documents, and with a private room, also immediately adjoining the registrar's office, which will be used principally for the registration of marriages; a waiting-room on the right of principal lobby, adjoining to the porter's room, will be used by persons waiting to see the officials upon that business. Adjoining to the porter's room is a small room for stationery, Ac. Further along the principal lobby is the room appropriated to chief and second clerks, for the paying and receiving of accounts. A waiting-room is placed between these rooms, and is convenient to both. There are lavatories and water- closets, &c, on the right hand of the lobby. The principal staircase rises from this lobby to the floor above. To the front of Grosvenor-square are placed the six rooms for the relieving-offices, each of which is in immediate communication with the waiting- room for the outdoor relief poor; each office will be so arranged that there will be two entrances, and two applicants for relief can be heard at the same time, although out of eight of each other, yet so placed as to be seen by two guardians on relief-days at the same time. The applicants would then leave by the passage leading direct to the loading entrance, and would either get their relief-ticket for provisions, or money from the pay-clerk, as the case may be, and would leave without again coming into communication with the rest of the applicants. The out-relief store and pay-clerk's office are placed between the entrance and exit doorways to the general waiting-room. The first floor is chiefly devoted to the use of committee-rooms, board-room, etc. The Board- room is placed at the j unction of Grosvenor- square and Cavendish Street, and is lighted from both streets, an oriel window being introduced at the angle, which recess is not only convenient, but assists to give some character to the room at no great expense. The Board-room is 36 ft. by 29 ft., and is 21 ft. in height: the upper portion is of circular form, and raised above the square of the general eaves of the building. This extra height of the room is obtained in the formation of the Mansard roof, which is purposely introduced so as to give the extra height. Two waiting-rooms adjoin the board-room, and also the committee-rooms. The room for the school attendance officers is on this floor, likewise the warrant and commitment officers' room. The front portion of the basement, and that portion under the large waiting-room, will be devoted to rooms for the use of the outdoor relief poor, and will be chiefly used as workrooms during times when the workhouse is crowded, or in winter and severe times of distress, when a large number of the poor could be here found means of employment either in oakum-picking, cutting up wood, or some other such indoor employment. A kitchen and large scullery or washhouse will be provided in the basement. The vagrants' wards are situated at the back of the main building, and will be approached from Lyceum-place by vagrants who, as previously stated, will be prevented (by an iron gate, as previously mentioned) from passing through to the front of the building. The superintendent's office will command the entrances for both males and females. The men's workrooms are placed on the ground-floor and also on the basement-floor. The elevations to Grosvenor Square and to Cavendish Street are Italian in character. The walls will be constructed of brickwork, upon a Yorkshire stone base, the facing executed in pressed stock brickwork, with masonry sparingly introduced where most required to throw off the water, namely, to string-courses and sills, and to the upper portion of cornices. The rest of the moulded and ornamental work will be executed in red terra cotta.[Builder 12 February 1881 page 180]


The building was occupied by the Poor Law Board of Guardians and, after 1929, its successor the Public Assistance Board until 1930. The building also served as the Registry for Births, Marriages and Deaths for the Chorlton Union. Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst served as an elected Poor Law Guardian, as well as being employed by the local Registrar, in the years before she achived national fame. In 1970 it was taken over as the administration centre of the new Manchester Polytechnic.

Reference : Builder 12 February 1881 page 180