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Manchester Society of Architect's Library

This collection's strength for the architectural historian is in its late eighteenth century and nineteenth century pattern and source books.

Highlights include: W and G Audsley's Polychromatic decoration, 1881, Owen Jones' Plans, sections and details of the Alhambra, 1842, William Kent's The designs of Inigo Jones, 1770, Palladio's The four books of architecture, 1738, Piranesi's Opera, 17--, and Stuart and Revett's The antiquities of Athens,1762 - 1816. The rest of the collection dates from the first half of the twentieth century and includes a set of early volumes of the Survey of London.

Currently viewing:
W and G Audsley, Polychromatic Decoration (1882)

The Manchester Society of Architects' Library dates from within a few years of the Society's foundation in 1865. From modest beginnings, (the Society's Annual Report for 1878 indicated that there were only 37 books in the Library at that time), a collection of some 500 books was transferred to the Manchester College of Art and Design in 1967 (now Manchester Metropolitan University).

The MSA was founded as a strictly professional association for architects. The catalyst which led to the Society's formation was a general strike of builders in 1865 who resisted the introduction of mechanical hoists for the erection of the Assize Courts at Strangeways. Complementing this exclusive gentleman's club was the more liberal Manchester Architectural Association which organised lectures and visits.

In 1891 this Association, with more than 90 members and its Library, joined the MSA with affiliation to the RIBA. Alfred Waterhouse (architect for the Manchester Town Hall), was the President of the RIBA at that time.

Other prominent MSA members were Thomas Worthington, Alexander W Mills (architect of the Royal Exchange), G T Redmayne (architect for the Manchester School of Art), Edward Salomons (designer of the glass house for the Manchester Treasures Exposition of 1857) and the Arts and Crafts architect, Edgar Wood. See Cecil Stewart's Notes on the history of the Manchester Society of Architects, Manchester, 1962.

In 1906, A W Mills left his artworks, furniture and books to the Society including a series of folio engravings by Piranesi. John Holden donated important folios on classical architecture and in 1912 the books were accommodated in a bookcase designed by Henry Sellers, partner of Edgar Wood.

The Manchester Society of Architects' Kalendar for 1956/7 incorporates the Library Catalogue. The archives of the MSA are located at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

The MSA Library is accessible through the library's electronic catalogue: a search of the author file under Manchester Society of Architects will create a listing of titles. Most of the collection is located in the Special Collections area on the third floor.

Contact the Manchester Society of Architects' Collection

Access to the collection is on a weekday basis, Monday - Friday 10.00 - 16.00

It is open for private research by staff,students and external visitors

Phone +44 (0)161 247 6107


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