Stevenson Square and its building today
The Stevenson square conservation area represents a significant portion of the city centre in which the majority of Victorian buildings remain intact. Many are listed by the Department of the Environment as being of special architectural or historic interest. Very few buildings from the 18th century are still standing in the conservation area. The earliest include a few groups of houses and two public houses.
Numbers 69-77 Lever Street form a row of five three-storey merchants' houses with Tuscan pilaster door cases and sash windows with single glazing bars.
At the time of construction in 1787, the residences were also places of work. Skilled artisans lived in the three-room (one up, one down, and basement) 'back houses' which were built in the back yards and fronted on to Bradley Street. These dwellings were large by comparison with other, poorer houses built later in the vicinity. This group of houses is unique in the world, as they are the only example of their type still standing.
Numbers 8-14 Lever Street also form a group of Georgian houses, larger and more elaborate than 69-77, with two having acanthus leaf capitals and fluted entablature on the Tuscan pilaster door cases.
Numbers 50-62 Port Street are small, three-storey Georgian houses which were also used for business purposes. In this case, shop fronts were added in the mid-19th century. Just one of this group, no. 54, has a typical fustian weavers' horizontal, sliding-sash window at eaves level.
Numbers 24-28 Dale Street form a small group of Georgian houses, two of which have been converted to a public house.
The Brunswick Hotel on Piccadilly is an early-19th century three-storey building which has been extended to include nos. 2 and 4 Paton Street. They are finished in stucco and have Tuscan pilaster door-cases.
The majority of buildings of architectural or historic interest in the conservation area are Victorian or early-20th century. Most are related to the cotton industry, often warehouses, showrooms or workshops. These buildings are taller than the earlier examples and create a varied matrix of building mass, divided by largely dark, narrow streets. Wealth produced by the cotton industry can be seen reflected in the buildings, either stone or brick with stone dressings, many of which are elaborately decorated. Towards the end of this period terracotta became popular and was extensively used either in conjunction with brick or on its own.
The most significant street redeveloped for textile uses during the Victorian and Edwardian periods is Dale Street. It changes direction at the junction of Newton Street and Port Street, increasing the importance of the buildings at this point.
Number 35 Dale Street is a particularly fine example constructed in buff terracotta and orange-red brick, with numerous pinnacles and pediments forming an interesting skyline.Numbers 69-75 Piccadilly form a symmetrical five-storey stone building in Victorian Gothic style, with grouped windows in the centre bays, built around 1850.
Numbers 77-83 Piccadilly were designed by Clegg and Knowles and dated 1877. A four-storey stone building with attic floor in Victorian eclectic style, which is richly decorated with stone carvings inspired by several sources.
107 Piccadilly is a Jacobean-Baroque style warehouse and showroom with offices, designed for a cotton manufacturer. Constructed in 1899 of red sandstone and red brick, it is a typical, lively design by local architect Charles Heathcote, who developed his own, inimitable style.
No. 50 Newton Street is an early-20th century five-storey building with attic dormers. The three middle floors are linked by giant arcade windows with buff terracotta quoins contrasting with smooth red brick.
The older streets would originally have been muddy tracks. The most important of these were later cobbled. With the increased transportation demands of commerce in the world's first industrial city, the Victorians paved the streets with durable gritstone setts. In some smaller streets these are still visible, together with cast-iron kerbs which were resistant to damage otherwise caused by the iron rims of cart wheels.