Barnes Wallis Building
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2008)|
|Barnes Wallis Building|
The Barnes Wallis Building
|Alternative names||Wright Robinson Hall|
|Owner||University of Manchester|
|Design and construction|
|Architecture firm||Cruikshank & Seward|
The Barnes Wallis Building/Wright Robinson Hall is a university building in central Manchester. It forms part of the campus of the former University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, which merged in 2004 with the nearby Victoria University of Manchester.
It is unusual in that the two parts of the building have different names and different uses, despite the fact that the building is a single structure, purpose built by a single architect. It was built in 1963/66 and the architect was W.A.Gibbon of Cruikshank & Seward. The building faces across a green space at the centre of campus towards the Renold Building, which was designed by the same architect and constructed the previous year. According to the Pevsner Architectural Guides: "Its scale and form was designed to relate to the earlier building. It is all white concrete. The vertical stabbing funnel on the roof is designed to light the stairs."
The low-rise structure facing onto the green space at the centre of the campus is the Barnes Wallis Building, named after the pioneering aircraft designer Sir Barnes Wallis who opened the building in 1967. This once housed the main campus refectory (closed June 2009), and until 2004 it was also home to UMIST Students' Association. It is now used by the merged University of Manchester Students' Union with a print shop, bar and shop. The building has for decades been a central part of student life. Famous from the late 60's to late '80s amongst not just students, but also youngsters from across Manchester, for its Saturday Night Dances and Wednesday Technites. Many major rock bands played there - The Who, The Yardbirds, Chuck Berry, Traffic, Jimmy Hendrix, Def Leppard, Dr Feelgood and Nazareth to name but a few. It was regarded as the best venue of any UK university. Its bar today is named Harry's Bar after the manager who ran it in the 60s. (Not forgetting his supporting staff of his sister, the barmaid, Nelly and the infamous old glass collector, whose name was never known, but was there week in week out in his 'Younger's Tartan' jacket, hearing aid turned firmly off as he collected empties oblivious to the carnage around him and the hard rock blaring!)
The naming of internal parts of the building was for many years a good indicator of the current political balance of the UMIST Student Union. The Large Assembly Hall was at times called the Lenin Assembly Hall. Conversely, the Small Assembly Hall was at other times named the Sharansky Assembly Hall, after Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky.
The 15 storey high-rise part of the structure is called Wright Robinson Hall, and is a student hall of residence.
- Pevsner Architectural Guides — Manchester, Clare Hartwell, ISBN 0-14-071131-7