Wednesday, 17 December 2014


John Rylands Library (Presentation Notes)

The John Rylands Library is a Victorian Neo-Gothic library located on Deansgate, about a 2 minute walk from The Town Hall.

Gothic architecture came back into style during the industrial revolution, as Northern cities became more wealthy they wanted grand buildings to show their wealth and power, town halls across the north were constructed in this gothic style in cities such as Rochdale (Show)                   Sheffield (Show)                  and Manchester (Show).

(Show archive photo & new photo)

The library was constructed between 1890 - 1900 and was one of the last Neo-Gothic buildings constructed in England as the fashion fell out of style not long after it’s construction.

It was built in a compact area of the city surrounded by shops and warehouses and has obviously attracted people to the area as it is now surrounded by modern banking towers.

(Show wide shot)

The building was financed by Enriqueta Rylands as a tribute to her late husband John Rylands, who was the owner of one of the largest textile manufacturing companies in England and Manchester’s first self made multi millionaire. 

The building was designed by architect Basil Champneys using the most modern building techniques at the time. The building has a fireproof concrete construction, a full air conditioning system and was one of the first buildings in the city to be lit by electricity. 

In terms of functionality it is a great piece of architecture, the main reading room has an upper and lower level with two other rooms dedicated to the preservation of books. 

(Show new photographs)

A new section of the library was constructed in 2007 at a cost of £17 million, the steel and glass structure contains a new reception, gift shop and cafe. 

This is evidence that in this time period we always feel the need to renovate old buildings to bring them into the 21st century, destroying the original design and almost making buildings a parody of themselves. Saying this out of all the buildings we have looked at for this presentation this one is one of the only ones still surveying its original purpose a century after its construction. 

The building remains relevant to this day as it holds thousands of years of human history and is still visited and used by hundreds of people every day.   

(Show my photos of library)

Map Information

John Rylands Library

The John Rylands Library is a Victorian public library commissioned by textile merchant john Rylands' wife Enriqueta Rylands to hold his large collection of books and texts. The library was designed by architect Basil Champneys and completed in 1899 and opened on 1st January 1900. It was the last great Victorian Neo-Gothic building constructed in Northern England. The building was constructed using the most modern building techniques and no expense was spared in it's construction. The library contains many separate rooms the main being the reading room, which consists of 2 levels, with the bottom level only being open to the public. The building was one of the first in Manchester to be lit by electricity. The library contains around 250,000 books as well as thousands of manuscripts. It was restored in 2007 with a modern glass structure built on the back of the existing building containing a cafe, reception and gift shop. The building is currently upheld by Manchester University. A few weeks ago I was given permission by the manager of the library Ian Massey to take photographs from the second level of the reading room which is normally closed to visitors.