Former Union Bank of Manchester, of 1913, by Mould J D and S J of Manchester, Bury and London.
Reasons for Designation
The former Union Bank of Manchester of 1913, by Mould J D and S J of Manchester, Bury and London, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* a good example of a well-crafted neo-Baroque style bank of distinctive architectural character that retains a double-height, ornate banking hall;
* the composition of the spherical clock tower endows the building with an eye-catching street presence, which is very prominent in the townscape;
* as a building constructed of high-quality materials, with sculptural embellishment around key entrances;
* an accomplished bank designed by well-regarded local architects, with contributions by a number of known craftspeople including John Ashton Floyd of Manchester.
* the town centre contains few listed buildings but it benefits from a strong group value with the contemporary former Grade II-listed old library.
The Union Bank of Manchester was founded in 1836. During the early 1900s a number of new banks were built for the company in towns in the north-west. The branch in Nelson was built in 1913 on a prominent corner site in the town centre purchased at auction for £10,000 and built to replace bank premises at 21 Manchester Road. The bank was intentionally built set back from the former street line to create a more impressive central junction for tram and motor car access. It was designed by the architects’ practice of Mould J D and S J of Manchester, Bury and London. James Diggle Mould commenced independent practice in Manchester in 1883 and later took his brother, Samuel Joseph Mould, into partnership. He subsequently also took Austin Porritt into a short-lived partnership, lasting from 1900 until 1906 when it was dissolved. They were responsible for the design of a number of banks, including the Grade II-listed Barclays Bank in Bury (National Heritage List for England (NHLE) 1067213) and Barclays Bank in Rochdale (NHLE 1405181).
Newspaper articles from 1913 provide a detailed list of the contractors and suppliers involved with the bank's construction, as well as describing the internal layout. The bank was accessed from the portico through two doors: customers entered through the south door, which led to a vestibule and then to the banking hall, and the north door gave private access to the manager’s room, and then to the banking hall; both vestibule and manager’s office had bay windows. The external stone carving was by Manchester based John Ashton Floyd, who studied at the Municipal School of Art, Manchester, and worked for a time in the studio of the eminent Manchester sculptor John Cassidy. He worked on several war memorials in the Manchester area, including the Manchester Post Office peace memorial, and was responsible for the sculptural decoration at Lutyens’ Manchester Midland Bank (NHLE 1219241). Internally, the octagonal banking chamber was solely lit by a glass dome made by W G Smith & Co (Bury St Edmunds), which was set in the centre of a richly decorated plasterwork ceiling created by G P Bankart (London). At the far wall from the entrance was the door to the Chubb and Son strong room, with a repository chamber behind, and on the right hand side of the banking hall was a recess with a staircase giving access to a basement, which contained a lavatory, clerks' tearoom, a voucher store and the heating chamber. A separate clerks' entrance was built on Scotland Road, which had a small ground floor vestibule and a main public staircase. It gave access to five first-floor public rooms and lavatories, accessed along a well-lit corridor, with a circular staircase leading to the clock works chamber and viewing balcony of the tower. The 70 foot high clock tower was built with four clock faces, and a clock mechanism, made by Joyce of Whitchurch and topped with a weathervane finial; following fire damage to the Market Hall in 1932 the bank’s clock tower became the principal clock in the town centre. A 1925 aerial photo shows that the bank had a small three-bay building (later demolished) on top of the roof, thought to have been used for visitors tower tours.
The Union Bank of Manchester was affiliated with Barclays Bank in 1919 and was fully incorporated into Barclays in 1940. In 1955 the clock tower structure was renovated by Thomas Dent and Sons Ltd. The branch was subsequently purchased by Abbey National Ltd and later Santander, with the branch interior renovated with modern fixtures and fittings and the ground-floor stone mullion bay windows removed to insert modern three-quarter length steel frame windows of structural curved glass. The bank has been recently (2017) modernised with new signage, digital workstations for online banking, new counter services and private interview rooms. The vestibule and first-floor rooms accessed by the secondary entrance are now separate premises.
Former Union Bank of Manchester bank, 1913, by Mould J D and S J of Manchester, Bury and London. Edwardian Baroque
MATERIALS: Catlow sandstone, slate roof, leaded dome, leaded stained glass.
PLAN: the building, on a corner site, forms an irregular polygon on plan.
EXTERIOR: not inspected, information from other sources. The building occupies a prominent corner site at the junction of Scotland Road and Leeds Road with elevations to both. It is constructed of banded rusticated masonry, with a plain ashlar plinth, a first-floor plat band with a projecting moulded string courses, stone mullion windows of varying numbers of lights and a moulded roof cornice. Window frames are mostly original horned sliding sashes with multi-panes above a single pane. The building has a variable pitched slate roof, with two small gable end dormers either side of a pedimented gable end, and three tall ashlar chimney stacks with decorative clay pots rising above the parapet. There are cast-iron rainwater goods.
The elevation facing the junction of Scotland Road and Leeds Road comprises a three-bay canted entrance block with a central, pedimented bay with a ground-floor portico whose opening is flanked by two ornate ionic columns, and has an inset two-leaf ironwork gate. Set above is a large shield applique, with volutes, a ship and a pair of shaking hands, with decorative cartouches either side. The first floor has a five-light bow oriel window with double-hung four-over-one sash windows, above a frieze carved with the bank name, now concealed by a modern bank sign. It is topped by a decorative curved stone Tudor balustrade which breaks into a half-storey open and bracketed pedimented gable. The latter with moulded cornice and raking cornices contains a wide lunette window with elongated voussoirs and keystone. The entrance bay is flanked to either side by a single bay, each with a ground-floor bow window with C21 three-quarter length steel frame windows of structural curved glass. Both the plinth of these bays and the bow windows have air vents within chamfered stone openings. The first floors each have a three-light stone mullion window with a central eight-over-one sash and either side by four-over-one sashes. Rising above is an ashlar and square cut baluster parapet. The narrow (north-west) return has a flat-lintel entrance with a C20 door (the former clerks' entrance). Above it is a leaded stained glass roundel set in a decorative stone surround, with the carved words UNION BANK BUILDING below a volute scroll and two reliefs of cotton plants (reflecting the town’s historical connection with cotton weaving). The first floor has a narrow four-over-one sash window, with an ashlar capped parapet above.
The Leeds Road elevation comprises a pair of bays, the ground floors of both containing an Edwardian shop front with a central entrance (now blocked) with two rectangular overlights of nine panes. Either side are two large, single pane, shop windows set on half stall ashlar risers, with sunburst glazing bar transom windows above. A cash machine has been inserted in the right shop window. The first floor of the right end bay has a flat-roofed oriel bay window with identical fenestration to the single bay elevations. Set back and above is a parapet wall with an ashlar end chimney stack. A prominent square and coursed ashlar clock tower of two stages rises from the first floor, with rusticated corner pilasters. The first stage has a six-over-one sash window and a utilitarian access ladder. The second stage has a tall arched window, with a moulded archivolt and an elongated keystone, set on a string course to each face, with leaded diamond glazed lights. Either side of the windows are giant curved masonry brackets which support a square balcony, designed with four projecting square cut baluster balconettes. A rotunda with eight monumental ionic columns supporting a moulded entablature rises from the balcony and is topped by a lead sheeted spherical clock tower dome. The dome has four clock faces, and a clock mechanism facing each cardinal direction; the original weathervane finial has been lost.
INTERIOR: not inspected, information from other sources. The portico has blocked north and south early-C20 entrances (the former manager’s and customer entrance), and a C21 flat-arched two-leaf door inserted in the east wall opening into the banking hall. The C21 east entrance opens into an early-C20 double-height octagonal banking hall (around 10m in diameter), with eight pairs of composite columns equally spaced around the room. A fasciated entablature rests above the columns, with a moulded architrave decorated with acanthus and oval leafs, a plain frieze and a cornice decorated with egg and dart moulding and large dentils. The circular ceiling has a circle and eight running quadrant panels of ornate fruit and foliate pre-cast fibrous plasterwork set around a central octagonal coved dome. The coved dome has plaster ribbing, decorated with a moulded and dentil architrave, with a central glass dome understood to survive above later boarding. The small former manager's room and vestibule situated either side of the main west entrance have modern banking interiors. The Chubb strong room and repository chamber are retained to the east end of the banking hall and it is understood that the recessed basement staircase remains in situ, along with the original basement floor plan beneath. The secondary entrance (former clerks’ entrance) on Scotland Road gives access to a small vestibule and a main staircase leading to first floor rooms. It is unclear whether original first-floor features remain. The Edwardian shop front facing Leeds Road has been largely refitted, with the rear shop wall removed and an access door cut into the south end of the banking hall.