Manchester City Council

Sports, leisure & the Arts Whalley Range Conservation Area

Whalley Range and its buildings today

The layout of Whalley Range as established by Samuel Brooks survives today as an area of large houses on tree-lined avenues. Many of the original houses remain, with new development taking place on the site of demolished houses and on the site of plots left vacant during the initial stages of the area's development. For example, around the turn of the century, in both Railton Avenue and Whalley Avenue, sixteen terraced houses were constructed on single building plots.

For some years after the Second World War the area went into decline. Families living in the large houses moved away, further from the city centre, leaving some properties to decay. Some redevelopment took place and many houses were converted into bedsits for multiple occupation.

Recently however, there has been further investment in the area, with the upgrading of properties or conversion to self-contained flats or nursing homes and residential institutions. Housing associations have been actively refurbishing buildings and developing vacant sites.

Most vacant sites have now been built upon and development pressure has more recently turned towards applications for demolition of the old large houses and the subsequent redevelopment of their sites.

Designation of the conservation area is aimed at halting this trend and actively encouraging refurbishment of what is left of the fine quality original housing stock. Several buildings in Whalley Range are individually listed by the Department of the Environment.

The most prominent building in the Whalley Range conservation area is the former Lancashire Independent College on College Road. It is a gothic-style stone building with octagonal tower and pinnacles, completed in 1843. Recent refurbishment has converted the building into a residential college for the General and Municipal Boilermakers' Union. The entrance gates and octagonal gate piers are in the same style and are also listed buildings.

St Bede's College is an ornate red brick and terracotta building in the Italian renaissance style, which incorporates the redundant aquarium building. The eleven bays of the college form an incomplete facade as construction ceased in 1880. A chapel to the rear was added in 1898, followed by several subsequent additions.

St Edmund's Church is a stone building with a steeply-pitched slate roof. Designed in the geometrical Gothic style, it has paired clerestory windows with tracery. The building typifies the problem of overly large premises for modern use as a church but it is of a quality which justifies an imaginative proposal.

The Church of St Margaret on Whalley Road is a stone building with a slate roof and a tall spire. It was designed in 1843 and consecrated in 1849. The architects were Locker & Newsham with N. T. P. Harrison.

The three pairs of houses on Withington Road that are numbered 4 to 14 form a distinct group of stucco villas. The central pair are Gothic style with matching italianate style on either side.

There are many other fine houses of a high quality which were built according to rules and restrictions set by Samuel Brooks and written into the ground leases.

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