Peter House – Manchester

Currently trading as Spaces.

Take in all the best that Manchester’s creative scene has to offer and let your imagination go wild.

In 1807 you really had to use your imagination to discover the creative scene.

The site was home to the Prince’s Theatre:

Constructed by Metcalf and Waterson at a cost of £20,000, and designed by the architect Edward Salomons. The Theatre, which had seating for 1,590, opened with a production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ on Saturday, October the 15th 1864, under the management of Charles Calvert.

Arthur Lloyd

Sadly the Prince’s Theatre was closed in April 1940 when it was sold to ABC Cinemas who planned to build a new Cinema complex on the site, the Theatre was subsequently demolished but because of the war – the new Cinema was never built

It was replaced by Rediffusion House – later Peter House architects Ansell & Bailey.

Topped out in 1957 with a pint of Chester’s Mild.

Peter House gracefully hugs the curve of Oxford Street as it leads into St. Peter’s Square. This was one of the earliest commercial buildings to be completed post-war, which demonstrates the slow economic recovery of the region. Built on a site that had been bombed, the Portland stone seemed to marry with the material narrative established by JW Beaumont and LC Howitt in their buildings of the 1950’s and following earlier interwar commercial buildings. This scheme has more panache than the rather serious facades of the Student Union building or the Law Courts though.

The stepped massing and the articulation of the wings of the building preclude the accepted commercial norm of developing to the edge of the site and instead promote a satisfying formal interplay between the six and eleven storey elements. The building has been sensitively modified despite a lack of any listed status and remains commercially viable as offices and as retail. The continued success may be attributed to the air of quality afforded by the stone, certainly it has ensured the longevity, particularly when one considers the fate that befell the easement hugging concrete of Elizabeth House – Cruickshank & Seward, 1971 across the road; it was demolished in 2012.

Mainstream Modern

Rediffusion was the first independent commercial TV franchisee, in 1956 Associated-Rediffusion struck a very lucrative deal with Granada Television, the franchise holder for weekday broadcasts in the North of England.

The company offered a low-bandwidth cable TV and radio distribution system, provided in most United Kingdom towns. Selection of TV or radio station was by means of a rotary switch, usually mounted on a wall or window frame close to the point of entry of the cable into the home.

The Rediffusion retail chain, renting and servicing TVs, radios, VCRs and hi-fi systems, was common on high streets until it was bought by Granada Rentals in 1984.

The days of the monolithic mono-culture of the sole occupant are in decline – we live in the age of the co-working space and homes of multi-use creative scene.

Peter House prevails a pale white Portland Stone embodiment of different days and different ways.

Let’s take a walk around.

As a footnote – once in the shadow of Peter House, Tommy Ducks was demolished overnight.

Apparently, its supporters managed to arrange a preservation order for the building but, according to the excellent Pubs of Manchester website, that order expired at midnight on February 12, 1993, and the pub was literally reduced to rubble before anyone could seek a renewal on February 13th.