Original features

September 18, 2008

Located at the heart of the University of Manchester, next to the Manchester Museum, the Whitworth Hall was built with funds from the bequest of Sir Joseph Whitworth, an engineer famed for his work on the standardisation of the screw thread.

The foundation stone was laid in 1898 and the opening ceremony in 1901 conducted by the future King George V. Although designed by Gothic Revival architect Alfred Waterhouse, famous for London's Natural History Museum, it was completed under the direction of his son, Paul.

The hall has changed little. The impressive organ given by Mrs Enriqueta Rylands, who also created the nearby John Rylands University Library as a memorial to her husband, was largely rebuilt in 1962. The chandeliers, almost identical to the originals, were rescued from the redundant Church of the Saviours in Bolton.

The Whitworth Hall is regularly used for meetings, banquets and trade exhibitions, as well as the annual degree ceremony. It was also here that the Queen officially launched the University of Manchester in 2004, from the union of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.

This is part of a series exploring celebrated and lesser-known architectural treasures within British higher education. Suggestions most welcome: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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