Central Public Library, St Peter's Square, Manchester, Greater Manchester
Although Manchester's Central Reference Library was designed in 1925 by the London architect E Vincent Harris, the foundation stone was laid five years later by the Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. The library was opened on 17 July 1934 by King George V who told the crowds of thousands: "In the splendid building which I am about to open, the largest library in this country provided by a local authority, the Corporation have ensured for the inhabitants of the city magnificent opportunities for further education and for the pleasant use of leisure." Harris was a great admirer of Roman architecture and the Central Library is often compared to Emperor Hadrian's Pantheon in Rome. The core of the building is the four-tier book stack with accommodation for over 1 million books. The great hall had seating for over 300 readers, the largest in Britain outside the (old) British Library reading room. There was also a lecture theatre seating 300 in the basement. The Manchester Corporation Act of 1946 empowered the Libraries Committee to utilise the theatre fully for 'lectures, concerts, displays and the performance of stage plays...'