Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Stockport (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SJ 90696 90580

Reasons for Designation

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II Municipal museum and art gallery, by Mills, 1860, extended 1866. Brick with stone dressings, slate roof to plain terracotta ridge.

PLAN The original building was south facing, of five bays, two storeys and gabled with brick end stacks. The 1866 extension is a cross-wing to the west that extends southwards and has a hipped roof.

EXTERIOR Most of the first floor is blind except for the gable ends which have paired sash windows with margin glazing, those to the extension with stone architraves, all linked by a continuous stone cill band. The first floor is mainly lit by large roof lights. The blind sections of the first floor are enlivened with brick panels and stone roundels. At the eaves there is a brick Lombardy frieze or corbel table interrupted by central set back sections of walling where the eaves are supported by timber brackets. Below both there is a brick dentilated band. The ground floor is provided with round arched sash windows, again with margin glazing. The surrounds and sizes of these windows vary, but present symmetrical elevations. Openings are generally separated from each other by rusticated stone pilasters that extend between thin stone storey bands. The principal entrance has a stone architrave with a keystone surmounted by a grotesque mask. This forms part of a carved frieze extending between the flanking pilasters and supports a stone pediment. Above there is a simple stone plaque documenting the gift of the building to Stockport. The south gable end of the extension has a simpler architraved entrance with an inscribed foundation stone above.

The modern additions (the ground floor café to the east gable end and the fire escape on the north side) are not of special interest.

INTERIOR The 1860 building houses two floors of public display galleries, with moulded plastered beams to compartmentalised ceilings. The timber staircase rises against the front wall of the principal room, and has cast-iron decorative balusters and a mahogany handrail. The ground floor of the wing is divided into small offices.

HISTORY Vernon Park was opened to the public in 1858, utilising land granted to the corporation in 1844 by Lord Vernon. The museum was opened on 22 October 1860 and was the gift of Stockport's two Liberal MPs (James Kershaw and John Benjamin Smith), each of whom donated £500. The original building was designed by Mills as a ground-floor museum and first-floor art gallery. Initially it had few exhibits and no staff. However, appeals for donations were so successful that the Corporation had to add a new wing to the building in 1866. This wing partially housed Stockport's first free public library until that was relocated to Stockport's Market Hall in 1874. The architect 'Mr Mills', may have been Alexander Mills (1814-1905), a leading Manchester architect in practice with James Murgatroyd.

The museum building with its new wing is shown complete on the 1875 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map. The museum is a good example of a Victorian municipal museum, paid for by local dignitaries and then donated to the corporation. It has a a showy architectural exterior but a typically more modest interior, designed to avoid the decor detracting from the exhibits. The blind first floor maximises hanging space for paintings which are illuminated by diffuse light from the roof windows.

SUBSIDARY ITEMS and SETTING See the Parks and Gardens Register entry for Vernon Park (Registered Grade II: PAG 2360). Note that this description was produced before the restoration of the park in 1998-2000, which included the restoration of decorative ironwork throughout the park that had been scrapped c1940 as part of the war effort.

SOURCES Register entry for Vernon Park (English Heritage PAG 2360) Kate Hill, "Culture and Class in English Public Museums, 1850-1914" (1988)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The museum within Vernon Park, opened in 1860 and extended in 1866, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: as one of the first municipal museums built in the country * Architectural interest: for the architectural interest of its little-altered Italianate exterior * Group value: for group value as a key part of the Grade II* registered Vernon Park.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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