Category: No. 1 St Peter’s Square


I came across this video of the transformation of St Peter’s Square, and the buildings around it, in Manchester from overcrowded, cluttered space to a world class space. IMHO of course….

Another of my occasional panorama pictures. I liked the contrast of the half demolished Odeon cinema and the spanking, brilliant white newness of No1 St. Peter’s Square. The Odeon I have to say, with those iron girders, is certainly putting up a fight with the demolition company. Sadly, it is a fight it will lose. When the new office block is built, I wonder if the developers have their eye on that unremarkable, 1980s, red brick building next door?

Here I am in St. Peter’s Square looking towards the new office block, No 2 St Peter’s Square. I wasn’t sure about this building when it was first mooted but, now that the cladding is going up, I quite like it especially the side elevation. The intricate trace work echoes the patterns on the side of the Town Hall Extension on the other side of the square that echoed the Victorian Gothic architecture of the original Town Hall on Albert Square.

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The square was busy as work continues on this building and the new tram station which, we are told, will be ready by the end of this month. We shall see about that. The station is looking good as well surrounded by the new trees. And the cross that marks the site of the long gone St Peter’s church is back in position and looking good. I’ve lost track on how long the square has been in a state of redevelopment but it’s looking good.

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I’m trying to work out the pattern of the panels. Some looks like it’s being put in diagonally. Other parts look more random. I hope they sort it out. At the moment it’s annoying me a bit.

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It was a sunny afternoon and, in spite of the noise, a group of tourists were having a tour of the area.

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This picture is the trace work on the Town Hall Extension for comparison.

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And here is a picture of the restored and reinstated cross. The guide was saying it marked the position of the spire of the old church but I was told it marked the site of the altar. That would make sense as that is the most sacred part of a church where the contact between the people and God takes place. Because the crypt is still under the square and occupied the land here is still consecrated. The camera had problems focussing on the cross as it’s still surrounded by a fence so it couldn’t decide where to focus producing a fuzzy picture.

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Gateway House isn’t the only one in the city that has curves of course. The area around St. Peter’s Square has them in abundance. First there is the glorious Central Library of course. I’m looking at it from Oxford Street here across the works for the new tram line across the square. By the end of summer they are planning to have the new tram station opened and most of the rest of the square laid out with more of the beautiful Empress/Princess trees planted.

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I noticed that the base for the cross that marks the altar of the long disappeared St. Peter’s Church had been put in place for the returning cross. The land is still, I believe, consecrated as the crypt, complete with long dead occupants, is still there. They were left in peace deep under the square unlike the occupants of the churchyard of the Cross Street Chapel who have been moved to Southern Cemetary as the new tram line has been built above them. 

Peter House, a rather handsome, Portland stone, 1950s office block follows the curve of Oxford Street as it leaves the square. Across the street from it, and echoing its curve beautifully is No. 1 St Peter’s Square. When it was announced that it was going to be built I thought that it looked squat and dumpy at the same time as towering over Central Library and the Midland Hotel, the architectural stars of this part of the city. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In height, it’s about the same size as the Town Hall Extension but it far enough away from that and the library and hotel not to overwhelm them. The white of the stone echoes the Portand stone of the library and Peter House. They did clever things with the Windows and the cladding so that the building doesn’t look as tall as it actually is. The imposing façade facing the square echoes the magnificent portico entrance of the library. And I LOVE the way the Oxford Street façade echoes the curve of the street and the curves of the other buildings. It is a joy and I always look up to enjoy it as I pass it. 

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Yesterday, people were dining outside Fumo, a classy Italian restaurant, under the trees and enjoying the vibe. Once the square is finished restaurants and cafés are moving in all round it. It’s going to be quite the dining experience. I got chatting to a guy from KPMG, the company that occupies the top floors of the building. They love it up there apparently with their roof top terraced gardens. He’d parked his motorbike in a place reserved for cycles. So have his buds and they all had warning notices on their bikes saying there would be bother if they did it again. He hurried off to tell security and his buds what had happened. The police had told them they could park there. The city thought otherwise.

In this picture you have a pices of No 1, a stunningly blue, Manchester sky and a little piece of the 1930s Odeon Cinema. It’s been closed as a cinema for a long time and looks dilapidated. But it does sit on an expensive piece of land in a sought after part of one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. It’s days are numbered it seems and No 1 will soon have  No 3 St. Peter’s Square joining it. 

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Just a bit of a review as to where we are with No. 2 St. Peter’s Square that’s going up across from Central Library. At the moment we have about a third of the square back. They seem to be laying out the part of the square in front of No. 1 but the rest is still behind screens where they are building the new St. Peter’s Square tram station. That will be finished towards the end of this year or early 2017 with the new line across the city centre open later that year. You can already get along it as far as Exchange Square but Corporation Street, Cross Street, Albert Square, Princess Street and St. Peter’s Square are in a state of organised chaos still.

The service towers of No. 2 have reached their full height and the steel work of the building is being slotted into place. I think it will be finished by 2017 as well.

And I’m delighted to announce that Mr. Scruff, Manchester DJ and tea aficionado, who runs Teacup Kitchen on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter, is going to open another teashop on St. Peter’s Square, probably in the Town Hall Extension so it can spill out into the square on warm, sunny days. Can’t wait! 

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I like the contrast of new and old architecture and the redevelopment of the St. Peter’s Square area of Manchester are delivering contrasts in bucketloads.

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On the left you have the portico of Central Library which must be the most magnificent entrance to any building in the city. It amazes me that they thought this building needed a new entrance and that would be the glass blob thing they have blocked elegant Library Walk with. Central Library is close to 70 years old, but with its classical detailing, reflecting the Pantheon in Ancient Rome, people think it’s older.

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Across the square is No. 1 St. Peter’s Square, the new office block that has been built to replace poor, unloved, 1960s Elisabeth House. I was worried about this build when I first saw the plans. It looked stumpy and overbearing in the same design. But it’s been a triumph. It’s white stone like the library. The pillars of the facade onto the square reflect the pillars in the library portico. The curve on the Oxford Street facade reflects the curves of the street and the library, and the concave side of No. 1 reflects the convex curve of Peter House. It’s a classy build.

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We are yet the decide on whether No. 2 St. Peter’s Square will match its neighbour. People mourned the loss of Century House, a decent little 1930s building that used to grace the square. We will have to see.

Behind the hoardings they are finishing off the hard landscaping of St. Peter’s Square. People love the bit we already have, it’s a well designed, elegant space. It’s taking a while because they have to re-lay the rails and build the new station for the trams. Trams are running through the square again but on a single line. In the rush hour it’s a bit of a nightmare. The new office block, which already has tenants, and the square will be finished in 2017.

In my humble opinion, the most spectacular entrance to any building in the city, and several other nearby cities as well…

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I love the contrast between the architectural styles of the Central Library and Town Hall Extension. So different, but built at the same time, and works well even on a dull day. Hate the blob that looks dark and forbidding and out of place and dark on a dull day…

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You can just see a little taste of the magnificent gothic Town Hall in this picture, the golden cotton bud, but am still hating the blob…

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Bad picture that doesn’t do it justice, but I’ve always like the view through the portico of the library towards the Edwardian Baroque of the Midland Hotel…

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In the pictures at the top of the post one of the cranes was lifting a huge steel girder, that will support the facade of No 2 SPS, into place. Here the guys are securing it into position. It’s like a giant LEGO or Meccano construction kit…

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View of No 1 and No 2 SPS from inside the glass atrium of the Manchester Art Gallery. The atrium links the three buildings of the gallery complex… 

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The purple flowering Empress/Princess/Paulownia/Foxglove Trees in St. Peter’s Square have created quite a stir on the city’s social media, all of it positive. We seem to have taken to them big time. I first saw them when they were just starting to flower and it was a little difficult to see the flowers properly. Given a few days of sunshine and they have really opened. As the trees grow the display will only get better if only for a couple of weeks in spring. No leaves yet so will be interesting to see what they look like.

They are looking particularly good against the white Portland stone of Central Library and whatever white stuff No. 1 St. Peter’s Square is made of.

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They also look good against the terracotta bricks and tiles of the Midland Hotel. 

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Looking across the square to where the demolition of the buildings to make way for No. 2 St. Peter’s Square is nearly completed. And a very crowded tram station in the rush hour. My tram just coming in.

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A couple of weeks ago a demonstration about the government’s austerity cuts took place in Albert Square. It was supposed to have been organised by the city’s homeless. It seemed a little too organised for that and there was an attempt to get into the Town Hall where some damage was done to the building. There may have been some homeless people there but I suspect some organisation from another source. The reasons for people being homeless are complex. From my, admittedly, limited experience of meeting homeless people, I did understand that mental illness plays a big part and just giving a person a place to live won’t solve the problem. They need to be in a place personally where they can cope with all the pressures of running a house. It’s a difficult problem to solve.

After the problems in Albert Square, the protest moved to the newly refurbished bit of St. Peter’s Square. Hence the tents. The tents made me think that other agencies were behind it. Truly homeless people carry very little, little more than the clothes they wear and a little dog for company. Expensive little tents you might use for a camping trip to the Lakes aren’t usually on their lists of must haves.

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Work has started on No. 2 St. Peter’s Square, a new office block next to No. 1. Am I alone in thinking there’s been a lack of imagination in the naming of them? I suppose they do what they say on the can.  At the moment they are demolishing the existing buildings including, sadly, Century House. From St. Peter’s Square this is what you see….

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But behind you can see the demolition taking place. You can see a part of No 1 St. Peter’s Square and the building on the left will eventually come down for another new office block called No. 3 St. Peter’s Square. More imaginative, creative thought I guess…

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Adrift by name and adrift by nature. This sculpture was executed by Irish sculptor, John Cassidy, who was a sculptor of some repute in Victorian and Edwardian Manchester. He donated this sculpture, which represents humanity adrift in a sea of troubles, to the city in 1907. It was supposed to go in a huge new art gallery that was going to fill the space where the old Royal Infirmary was in what is now Piccadilly Gardens. It seems that what to do with that part of the city has been on the agenda for a LONG time.

The art gallery was, sadly, never built and the gardens were created. The statue was put in the centre of them. After the present Queen ascended the throne in 1953, Adrift was moved and replaced with the Coronation Fountain in that year. Adrift ended up on the edge of the gardens on the Portland Street side. The disastrous remodelling of Piccadilly Gardens in 2001/02 saw the fountain shunted off to the rose garden outside Platt Hall (aka Museum of Costume) in Platt Fields Park and Adrift put into storage. The poor fountain still does not work. Does the Queen know this?

In 2010 it reappeared in St. Peter’s Square for all of about five minutes it seemed. I remember talking to the guy putting the finishing touches to it. I thought it had found a suitable permanent home. But within weeks of it being revealed, the hoardings had gone up across the square for its grand refurbishment and it disappeared from view again. I did a post about it on this blog back in August 2010.

It’s just reappeared again as part of the St. Peter’s Square refurbishment. It’s actually on Peter Street on the space between Central Library and the Midland Hotel. And very fine it looks. Hopefully it’s come to a final resting place. Although it’s been wandering the city for over a 100 years now, people were treating it as something new. It looks as if it’s finally getting the appreciation it deserves.

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No. 1 St. Peter’s Square is finished now and tenants are moving in. And splendid it looks as well. There was a big party with coloured lights and lasers a couple of nights ago to celebrate it being finished. And right next to it, I was talking to the demolition team who were putting up scaffolding around the buildings that are being demolished to build No. 2 St. Peter’s Square.

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On Sunday I went to have a look at St. Peter’s Square. It’s far from finished but most of the work that they have been doing has come to an end. What startles you is how big the space is. It will be the biggest open space in the city centre and it shows off the grand buildings like the Midland Hotel, Central Library and the Town Hall Extension wonderfully. Half of the square has been paved with its permanent paving stones and very fine it looks. The trees look good and I’m looking forward to seeing them flower next spring. People are delighted with this new space and it seems to be popular with everyone. The other half has been covered with asphalt which is temporary. But even when they have moved the tram station to the corner of the square near the Art Gallery, the space will still be huge. The old tram station will go, the paving will spread across the square to No. 1 St Peter’s Square and they are going to start No. 2 St. Peter’s square soon as well. The cross marking the position of St. Peter’s Church will be returned to its place on what is still consecrated ground. The crypt of the church, complete with its residents, is still there. I wonder if they will relocate them like they are doing with the residents of the Cross Street Chapel Cemetery?

Already visitors are taking advantage of the space to have photographs taken. The bit around the relocated Cenotaph is a triumph. It shows off the neglected back door to the Town Hall and you can see along Lloyd Street, between the Town Hall and its extension.,with the beautiful footbridges linking the two buildings. I was pleased to see that the brilliantly white, curved stone wall that was built to mark the sacred ground around the Cenotaph had been cleaned. Cyclists and skateboarders had moved in with in hours of it opening and were using it as a playground. The graffiti on the benches had gone as well. Talks have been had with the skateboarding community and 24 hour security is in place. It was back to being dazzlingly white on Sunday. Someone alerted the Manchester Evening News about the damage who started a campaign to get something done. I’m whistling and looking nowhere in particular. But TWITTER can start revolutions and it can also get damaged monuments cleaned.

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Here are a few pictures of No. 1 St. Peter’s Square. It’s finished now and the offices are being made ready for their tenants. People are queuing to get space here. Popular Manchester restaurant and celeb haunt, San Marco, is taking space on the ground floor for a new restaurant. Sadly there’s no news that the much loved and much missed Dutch Pancake House, will be making a return. It occupied the corner of Elisabeth House where Oxford Street enters the square. It was a Manchester institution and one of the longest open restaurants in the city. People were sad when it closed before the demolition. No. 1 St. Peter’s Square is widely admired as well. I did think it was too big for the space, but the quality of the build has been so high with the shape, colour and materials echoing other buildings in the square that I have changed my mind. It will look even better when the clutter of the old tram station is moved. I hope No 2 looks as good.

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The whole square wont be finished until 2017. Hopefully there will be more cafes and restaurants around it that can spill out into the square on warm days. And it would be good to see the Christmas Markets spill into the square.