Building Name

The Great St James’s Hall Oxford Street Manchester

Oxford Street
Central, Manchester
GMCA, England
James Reilly
New build

THE GREAT ST. JAMES'S HALL, MANCHESTER - A large public hall, to be known as the Great St. James's Hall, was opened in Manchester on Monday evening. The owner of the new building is Mr. James Reilly, proprietor of the Pomona Gardens, and his intention is to use the structure, which comprises the largest hall in the centre of the city, for general purposes. During the ensuing winter a series of promenade concerts will be hold there, and the hall will also be let for great political demonstrations, public meetings, and gatherings of other descriptions. The entrances to the building are from Oxford Street, near the end of Portland-street. The hall itself lies some distance back from the road, the frontage being occupied by a number of shops, so that the exterior the new structure presents is not very striking. With respect to its interior, however, the building is handsome and palatial. An area of 24,386 feet is covered by the large hall, which is divided into three bays, extended its entire length in the direction of Oxford-street. The central bay or arch is 178 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 51 feet high, and the side bays are 38 feet 6 inches wide and 40 feet high. The entire length of the hall is thus 178 feet, and its width 137 feet. The roof is supported by eight iron pillars, inlaid with mirrors, which serve to indicate the boundaries of the bays. There is a very large platform at one end of the hall. In width it is 62 feet, and rises to a height of 236 (sic) feet at the rear. Beneath the platform a number of tables and seats will be placed, and on the occasion of great public meetings it will be connected with the Central Telegraph Offices in York-street, and reporters will be able to transmit their messages without leaving the building. At the northern end of the room is a gallery,-which has a frontage of 137 feet. The stalls and boxes will be here placed, the approach to them being by a handsome staircase. It is estimated that the hall will provide sitting accommodation for about 5,000 or 6,000 persons, and that from 8.000 to 10,000 persons will be able to find standing accommodation. Arrangements have also been made by which the area of the large hall can be considerably extended when occasion requires it. A number of cloak and committee rooms are placed to the right of the platform, with dressing rooms for the professional artistes who appear at the concerts. The interior aspect of the building is light and spacious. Its walls and ceilings consist of timber, which is fluted and carved very elaborately. Around the walls are placed a number of mirrors, and the walls are painted and gilt. The only exits are on Oxford-street side of the building. They are four in number, and of considerable width, so as to afford quick, and easy egress, in case of necessity, from the hall. The level of the floor is only six inches above the level of Oxford-street. It may be mentioned, with regard to the great hall, that by means of curtains attached to the pillars it can be divided into three sections, which may be used for independent purposes. The hall has been furnished in a very handsome manner. There are several capacious ante-chambers and assembly rooms. On the basement, under the gallery, is a refectory or storeroom, which is 120 feet long and 51 feet wide. Between the shops in Oxford-street and the great hall there is to be an intermediate chamber, which is to be called the Dramatic Hall, and it will be let for histrionic purposes to private clubs. Above this hall, again, and the shops which are in course of construction, there will be a large room of 128 feet in length and 48 feet in width, and it will be utilised for workshop or storage purposes. The brickwork of the building has been executed by Messrs Lord and Holland, of Higher Broughton; Mr. Stroud, of London, has supplied the gas fittings, and the other fittings have been made at the works of the proprietor, Mr Reilly, at Cornbrook. The architect is Mr W. H. M. Ward, of Dickinson Street, in this city. It is estimated that the total cost of the building, fittings, and furniture will be nearly £50,000. The St. James's Hall was opened on Monday with a, Promenade Concert, conducted by M. Van Biene. The extensive promenade was fairly well filled during the evening, but the central portion of the hall, which is fitted with comfortable chairs for the holders of reserved seat tickets, was very scantily occupied. [The Manchester Weekly Times 1 October 1881 page 7]

Reference           The Manchester Weekly Times 1 October 1881 page 7