Manchester City Council

Sports, leisure & the Arts Ancoats Conservation area

Ancoats and its building today

Ancoats, with its concentration of mill buildings, is an important landmark in the history of the Industrial Revolution. Old Mill, which is probably the oldest surviving in Manchester, was built in two phases in 1798 and 1801. It is one of the group of Murray's Mills and was constructed around a courtyard, with a canal basin and tunnel under one of the mills and Redhill Street, connecting it with the Rochdale Canal.

The firm of McConnel and Kennedy, whose group of mills was the largest cotton employer with 1500 workers, claimed to be the first to run spinning mules by steam power. Sedgwick Mill, dating form 1818-1820, is the oldest of the group still standing, and it is believed to be the oldest surviving iron-framed, fireproof factory in Greater Manchester.

Beehive Mill, completed in 1824, has internal timber construction with rare cast-iron roof trusses, whilst the warehouse part has stone flag floors supported on cast-iron T-beams. The roof is a very early cast-iron spaceframe structure, unique in the area.

These three groups of buildings, together with Brownsfield Mill on the other side of Great Ancoats Street, represent the chronological development of cotton mill architecture from 1800 to the 1920's. Together they constitute the first industrial estate in the world.

Although the area is dominated by the massive mill buildings, it also contains other listed buildings of differing character. The Victoria Square housing, noted earlier, is a five-storey block of flats dating from 1889. Built in red brick with a pitched slate roof and in the form of an enclosed courtyard, it may fairly claim to be one of the most successful local authority housing schemes in Manchester, due in part to its enclosure of shared inner space.

Modern printing technology has meant that the original Daily Express building is not now used for that purpose, although it is still in commercial use. Printing now takes place in new premises to the rear of the original building.

The church of St. Peter in Blossom Street, built of brick in the Romanesque style, dates from 1860. It is hoped that the building will be converted to a new use, as the religious use has now ceased following the steady decline in the population of the Ancoats area.

The Crown and Kettle public house on the corner of Oldham Road and Great Ancoats Street, is a late 19th Century buff brick, Gothic-style building with stone traceried windows.

These latter buildings, together with the older non-listed buildings in the area, provide a contrast of architectural styles with the with the surviving massive mill buildings.

The character of the area remains largely industrial, therefore any new development must ensure retention of that character through detailing and the use of compatible materials.

The maintenance of road surfaces, kerbstones and street lighting, together with vacant site enclosures and "hard and soft" landscaped areas will also be essential.

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