Extension to Star Life Assurance offices, Cross Street, Manchester,
By reference to the street directories this building was constructed between 1895 and 1900 to the designs of Charles Henry Heathcote. Heathcote and Rawle are sometimes erroneously credited with the design. However, this partnership had ended in 1892 while the 1895 street directory lists 28-34 separately, each with a maximum of two occupants - i.e. before rebuilding. A postcard dated 1900 in MCL archives shows the building in occupation from the corner of St Ann’s Street to the original entrance at 30 Cross Street. From the outset, the building was designed as multi-occupancy offices, with Star life Insurance being one of twelve firms in occupation in 1903.
In 1906 a building regulations application was made on behalf of Star Life by Waddington Son and Dunkerley for land between Cross Street and Half Moon Street. A photograph by the City Engineer dated 1908 shows two vacant shop units (no. 28 Cross Street?) to the right of the original entrance with offices above. A change in the colour of the stonework suggests that this was part of a newer construction, less affected by smoke pollution. This extension completely replicates the original building in all respects, down to the stone carving and can only have been possible if access to Heathcote’s plans was made available. That this addition created a symmetrical façade about the original entrance would also suggest that the whole design was planned by Heathcote from the outset.
Yet to be explained are the entries for 28 Cross Street in the 1903 Street directory when the site was supposedly empty - The Clifton and Kersley Coal Company Limited and Pilkington Tile and Pottery Company Limited, these entries being repeated in the 1911 Street Directory.
Image MCL M77466 dated 1 August 1908 (copyright)
Archive Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives. GB127.M900/1/1/2/5/6818, 21 July 1906
Infirmation Richard Fletcher