Manchester Law Library

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The Manchester Law Library

The former Manchester Law Library is a Grade II* listed building[1] in the Venetian Gothic[2] style at 14 Kennedy Street, Manchester. "The building is noteworthy by virtue of having been built for the purposes of a law library and, London and the old universities aside, it is believed to have performed this function for a period longer than any other provincial law library".[3]

Reading Room

Designed by Thomas Hartas,[2] the library was built by William Holt between 1884 and 1885[3] to provide a meeting place, and reading room, for the Manchester Law Society. The building has a fine Venetian Gothic facade, "three bays, each divided into three again with richly traceried and strongly moulded frames to the openings".[2] Internally, a lending library is located on the ground floor, "now with twentieth century furnishings.[2] On the first floor, a reading room "with most of the (slightly rearranged) attractive, original fittings."[4] These include the central oak table, three fireplaces, and tall bookcases, some set at right angles to the walls to maximise the available storage space. The "stained glass is a noteworthy feature (including) three roundels containing the images of bewigged judges".[3] Offices are above this.

Thomas Hartas is an elusive architect. The Manchester Incorporated Law Library Society website describes him as "famous"[5] although it is hard to determine whence his fame derives as the Library appears to be his only documented building. Hartas also appears not to have an entry in the RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 which is an exhaustive survey of practising architects of the period.[6]

In 2015 the building was put up for sale. The Law Library relocated to new premises on Deansgate where it remains a private library open only to subscribing members of the legal profession.

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  1. ^ Good Stuff IT Services (1974-10-03). "Manchester Law Library 14 - Manchester - Greater Manchester - England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  2. ^ a b c d Nikolaus Pevsner The Buildings of England - Lancashire: Manchester and the South East; p. 315
  3. ^ a b c D. J. Higginson, The Manchester Law Library: a Short History 1820-1885
  4. ^ Clare Hartwell, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Manchester; p. 161
  5. ^ "The Manchester Incorporated Law Library Society - History". Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Directory of British Architects 1834-1914: A-K - Antonia Brodie, British Architectural Library - Google Books". 1906-06-11. Retrieved 2012-02-16.


  • Higginson, D. J. The Manchester Law Library: a Short History 1820-1885 (March 2007)
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus; Hartwell, Clare & Hyde, Matthew, The Buildings of England: Lancashire - Manchester and the South East (2004) Yale University Press
  • Hartwell, Clare Pevsner Architectural Guides: Manchester (2001) Yale University Press

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Coordinates: 53°28′48″N 2°14′37″W / 53.4799°N 2.2437°W / 53.4799; -2.2437