Jane Kennedy’s inspiration: Manchester Town Hall

PQ-_Manchester Town Hall-9143_Manchester City Council

The Purcell partner on a building that had a guiding influence at the start of her career and has continued to delight ever since

Manchester Town Hall | Architect: Alfred Waterhouse | Completed: 1877

When I trained in Manchester the great Victorian buildings of the city were really important to me. It was in the early 1970s, and we had been told by our tutors to forget everything we knew – to wipe the slate clean and get rid of all our preconceptions. For a while, I felt cast adrift. It was only through discovering like-minded people at the Victorian Society who were as passionate about understanding old buildings as I was, that I got back on track. And after decades working on the conservation and reuse of historic buildings, it’s probably fair to say I’ve been on that path ever since.

My first encounter with Manchester Town Hall was almost straight after starting at the university, when a fellow student suggested that we go along to the free Friday lunchtime concerts that the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra used to broadcast from the town hall. I remember sitting on the floor of the great hall with our sandwiches, listening to the music and looking at the murals in this great space. From then on, it was a place of great inspiration to me.

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