Manchester City Council

The Council & democracy History of Manchester Town Hall

Rooms and features

Sculpture Hall

The Sculpture Hall is on the right of the main entrance. This unusual hall measures 53 feet by 33 feet wide, with a groined roof of Bath stone brought from the Forest of Dean.  Amongst the statues are those of:

  • conductor Sir Charles HallĂ©
  • anti-corn Law League campaigners, Richard Cobden and John Bright
  • the remarkable triptych of celebrated HallĂ© Orchestra conductor, Sir John Barbirolli.


Seven staircases lead from level one to level two. The first two make up the grand staircases leading up from the Sculpture Hall to the state rooms; then there are the two centre block staircases followed by the three spiral staircases which are known as the English, Scottish and Irish staircases because each country provided granite for the steps and columns of one of them. Waterhouse designed the "easy tread stairs" to enable the Victorian ladies in their finery to ascend the stairs without having to look down. He ingeniously concealed the gas pipe, which carried the gas for the lighting, underneath the banister rails of the spiral staircases.

Great Hall and state rooms

The second floor is the most impressive of the Town Hall and contains the Great Hall and the staterooms.

  • The Lord Mayor's Parlour is a lofty room hung with portraits of public figures and paintings presented to the authority.
  • The Reception Room has a fireplace of alabaster and bears the figures of Truth and Justice.
  • The Banqueting Room boasts two fireplaces, one of Hopton Wood stone and the other of oak. Above one of the fireplaces is the minstrels' gallery.
  • The Conference Hall, which was the original Council Chamber, contains an interesting oak screen and canopy and a gallery.
  • The Great Hall is a glazed skylight on which are inscribed the names of mayors, lord mayors and chairs of the Council since Manchester received its Charter of Corporation in 1838. The superb ceiling of the Great Hall is separated into panels bearing the arms of the principal countries and towns our city traded with. The landing outside the Great Hall is known as the Bees. On the mosaic floor is a pattern of bees. The bee is symbolic of Manchester's industry and is found on the city's coat of arms. The city's involvement in the cotton trade is commemorated by a border of white strands and stylised cotton flowers on the mosaic floors. The 4,500 yards of marble flooring was laid by Venetian craftsmen.

See what the rooms look like.

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?