Landmark  Buildings

 Rylands Library    Manchester   1900


When John Rylands died in 1888 his widow Enriqueta wished to continue his non-conformist philanthropy by providing a free library in Manchester to house his collection of theological books. The site chosen was 150 Deansgate. The Architect chosen by Mrs. Rylands was Basil Champneys because she admired his neo-gothic style. From the purchase of the land it took six years to finalize the design and a further four years to build. In view of the valuable book contents of the building the structural interior was constructed mainly of stone minimizing the use of timber to reduce the fire risk.

The engineering consultant employed was Charles Hopkinson who incorporated several new ideas into the design of the engineering services. The building was one of the first public buildings in Manchester to have electric lighting and originally generated its own electricity from three gas engines. The electrical distribution was run in gun-metal or bronze conduits dependant upon their location. Where it was necessary to run cables on the surface they were encased in trunking made of coinage metal with gun-metal fixing screws. The covers had to be made with ornamental finish to blend with the adjacent wood paneling. The electrical switches resemble gas taps and those in the main Library were set in large bronze plates finished with an ornamental scroll.

Mechanical heating and ventilation was designed into the building structure allowing the fresh air to be filtered and tempered first before its distribution around the building. The ventilation system was one of the first to have two air ducts (hot and cool). This allowed the air temperature to different areas to be individually adjusted by means of a damper in the supply duct to the room. Additional radiators were also fitted in the hot supply duct outlet to each area to provide boost heating when the damper was placed in the hot duct position.


A typical floor plan of the Library showing the heating system layout.

        School of Art.   Glasgow    1904


AUGUST   2002