Sports, leisure and the Arts Shudehill Conservation Area

Shudehill and its buildings today

The west side of the Conservation Area is composed of large buildings constructed during the 20th century. These line the east side of Corporation Street and turn the corner up Withy Grove. The older, smaller scale properties which survive today are situated to the east side of the conservation area.

Shudehill and Withy Grove rise up the incline of one of the Irwell river terraces. At the steepest part, the upper end of Withy Grove, the narrowest fronted buildings are found, and these form a more varied yet integrated frontage on the slope than would large, broad-based buildings such as those on Corporation Street, which is level.

Many older buildings have been demolished due to low levels of occupancy, neglect and lack of investment. Others have been affected by the construction of the Metrolink system which follows the line of Balloon Street and the former Snow Hill.

The Castle and Falcon public house narrowly escaped demolition of the Metrolink route but it is now disused. Originally a lock-up for prisoners, it is a building of considerable antiquity - in 1783 one prisoner was taken from there to be hanged. Later it was used as a chapel and stained glass windows were installed.

The small-scale commercial premises on Shudehill and Withy Grove date from the 18th century and provide a wealth of interest. Number 29 Shudehill, possibly dating from 1810, has a stucco front facade with a full-width first floor window. An iron lintel, supported by four slender, twisted cast-iron columns, bears the weight of the wall above.

Behind the shops on Shudehill stands a large, triangular, five-storey building, thought to be a shoe factory built around 1860. It is Italianate in style, built in red brick with sandstone dressings. The rear of the building, on Thorniley Brow, is less detailed but it has paired, full-height loading slots where goods were lifted to the required floor with teagles or hoists.

The Co-operative Wholesale Society, which started in 1863, establishing its headquarters in Manchester, was born out of the Rochdale Pioneers Society of 1844 with the support of other co-operative societies. The main building, built between 1905 and 1909, lies on Corporation Street between Balloon Street and Hanover Street.

It was designed by F. E. L. Harris and bears the date 1907. The original part is Neo Baroque in style, constructed in red brick with polished granite and sandstone dressings. The facade has giant pilasters and Corinthian columns, and the roof is concealed by parapet walls. Originally there was another floor which housed the Mitchell Memorial Hall - destroyed in the blitz of 1940-41 and never rebuilt. The buildings was later extended to fill the block, as were several of the later Co-operative buildings.

The sandstone building on Corporation Street, north of Hanover Street, was designed by W. A. Johnson in 1928 and opened in 1930. This is in symmetrical Classical style, with giant pilasters and a large central entrance arch. The roof is a mansard with dormer windows.

The Co-operative movement owns other buildings in the vicinity which display the development of commercial architecture through the 20th century. The CIS building is immediately outside but adjacent to the conservation area.

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