Building Name

Pantechnicon Hadfield Street Old Trafford

1877 - 1878
Hadfield Street
Old Trafford, Stretford
GMCA, England
New Build

Close to Old Trafford station with its own siding which runs into the premises. Replaces the old pantechnicon, owned by Thomas Turner cabinet maker, destroyed by fire in 1875. The building opened in 1878 and in 1880 passed into the hands of a limited company. Specialty built for the storage of furniture. For security against fire the building was divided into more than two hundred fireproof compartments, each secured by revolving iron shutters with separate locks. Many of these rooms were large enough to hold the furniture of the largest mansion. Special heating arrangements with a separate inlet into each room, allowing proper temperature control in cold and damp weather. Rooms for the storage of pianos and other musical instruments, pictures, statuary, and other works of art' specially important. Extensive cellars fort the storage of wine. Strong rooms for the storage of jewellery, plate, and other valuables. In addition to their business as storers, the company had a large conveyance and removals department, with a fleet of their own vans. [Manchester Faces and Places pages 127-128]


THE MANCHESTER PANTECHNICON - This building, the opening of which was inaugurated by a luncheon given by the proprietor to many of the most influential citizens of Manchester on Wednesday, is the largest and most important structure of its class yet erected in the province. It is situated at Cornbrook, within a mile of the centre of the city, and on the line of the Manchester and South Junction Railway (from which there is a siding into the building). On plan it is a parallelogram, with a frontage of 180 feet to Turner-street, and of 135 feet to Hadfield-street, in which is the principal entrance. The greater portion of the building is five stories in height; and the superficial floor area devoted to storage purposes is 90,000 square feet. At the Hadfield-street end (from which our illustration is taken) is a campanile rising to a height of 120 feet above the pavement, the ground floor of which forms the office for inquiries, etc., while on one side of the adjoining entrance gates is a residence for the manager, and on the other a house for the working foreman. Passing through the entrance gates is entered a spacious covered courtyard for loading and unloading furniture, round the four sides of which are galleries hung by suspension rods from the roof (iron columns or other obstructions being thus entirely dispensed with) affording ready access to the various corridors and fireproof compartments of which the building is composed. This court is lighted by skylight. in the roof. Furniture and goods are lifted to the various doors by a large rising platform or hoist at one of the ends.


The storage department of the building may be briefly described as a series of seventy-six compartments or rooms grouped round the central court-yard or loading way. and each 24 feet square within the walls, without iron columns or obstructions of any kind. The greater part of the flooring has been constructed on the system recently patented by Mr. Lewis Hornblower, of Liverpool, and here adopted for the first time in Manchester on a large scale. The floors at the Pantechnicon are calculated to sustain a safe working load of twenty-five hundredweight to the superficial square yard. In district like Manchester. we think, with Mr. Hornblower, that this system should be a valuable one. It is not fire resisting alone but fireproof. It of course is more costly than other systems that are not fireproof - for no system can be perfectly fireproof unless the iron used in the construction is armour proof and the carrying material fireproof. In Mr. Hornblower's system this is the case. The iron joists, - the carrying power - are encased in fireclay tiles, and further protected by being covered or imbedded inPortland Concrete. This adds to the carrying power of the iron joists, protects it from the influence of fire, and renders it completely proof from fire. *


Mr. Hornblower's method consists of rolled iron joists about 2 feet 6 inches apart, cased or threaded into springing tiles of fire-clay, the interstices being filled in with tiles of "voussoir" shape, resting on the springers, and the whole is floated in with liquid cement, forming a perfectly rigid floor. The upper surface of the concrete is brought to a smooth face and forms the floor and the underside to an even surface as a ceiling.  The concreting on the top of Mr. Hornblower's fire-proofing was executed by the Manchester Limmer Asphalte Company.  The rooms are all fitted with Messrs. Clark & Co.'s patent revolving iron doors, made with their patent curvilinear iron lath, working on their patent self-coiling principle, requiring no machinery or gear of any description, the shutters being easily opened and closed by hand rod. They are specially adapted for closing openings with facility and security both against fire and robbery.


The rooms are heated and ventilated by two of Constantine's powerful convoluted stoves of equal heating power to those fixed at the Royal Exchange. They are fixed in the basement under the loading way, and have an ample supply of fresh air. A large main warm air flue branches from each apparatus, one on each side of the building, and from the main flues there are numerous branches of smaller ones, and a separate delivery of warm air in each room on the first, second, and third floors. There is an outlet in each room, and we are told the warming and ventilation is everything that could be desired. The furniture stored in these rooms will therefore be kept dry and in good condition. The radiating surface of each apparatus is over 400 superficial feet, while the grate space is less than 4 feet.


Every facility for the classification of goods is provided, and separate compartments, suitably constructed, will be devoted to the reception of pictures, carriages, pianos, etc., and a spacious strong room for the security of plate, deeds, jewellery, and other articles of value has been erected, while the basement is well adapted to the reception of wine and similar articles. At the end of the building near the railway complete stabling for twenty horses and messrooms for the employees, with receptacles for empty packing case and stores, are yet in course of erection. Lavatories and other conveniences are provided for visitors and the patrons of the Pantechnicon, and a private telegraphic wire connects it with Mr. Turner's upholstery warehouse in John Dalton-street.


All the external walls and those of the Courtyard are faced with white-ended common bricks relieved with bands, arches, and other architectural features in deep red stocks, the style of being an adaptation of the Italian Gothic, from the designs of Messrs. Pennington and Bridgen. Messrs. R. Neill & Sons were the general contractors, their sub-contractors being Messrs. Healey & Son, for the excavating and brickwork; Messrs. Kirkley, for the slating; Messrs. Jaffrey, for the plumbing and glazing; Messrs. Burns & Wharton, for the plastering and painting; Mr. Hornblower and Mr. Hamor, Lockwood, for the fireproof flooring; Messrs. Longden, for cast iron work; and Messrs. Worthington for the road making and paving.


The front cellar, which was intended for "special hard wear," is laid with Macleod's metallic concrete, by Mr. M. Macleod, 9, Oxford-street, Manchester. and though the concrete was laid whilst water was on the ground and during the bad weather of December last, and has had the usual usage accorded to such floors in new buildings, when this concrete was cleaned off a few days ago for examination, it was found perfect in every respect, being dry, smooth, and undamaged. We understand Mr. Macleod has laid this pavement on concrete arches, formed by himself, in various new military depots where they have been found to answer admirably for military storage.


For some of the ceilings Messrs. H. Leigh & Sons patent hoop iron lath has been used, and appears to form a very satisfactory job. It of course renders the lath and plaster inflammable, and should prove of value in mill ceilings. as we are informed that the shaking of mill floors does not injure it in any way. We noticed some rust from the metal in one of the ceilings, but this may be obviated by a non-corrosive coating the laths. A considerable quantity of this iron lathing has been used in the neighbourhood of Manchester. The entire cost of the Pantechnicon has been about £30,000. [British Architect 3 May 1878 page 208-209].


• Mr. Hornblower having erected a building in Liverpool and laid a floor according to my system. I handed it over to the Inspector of the Salvage Brigade of Liverpool. This officer subjected the whole to an intense fire of petroleum, tar barrels, coals, and everything of the most inflammable nature for forty-eight hours. The Liverpool Fire Brigade then played upon the building with the hose for six hours and the edifice was as perfect at the end, as at the commencement of the trial."


Reference    Manchester Faces and Places
Reference    British Architect 3 May 1878 page 208-209