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A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
 
Piccadilly, Manchester and the Albion Hotel, 1820s-1926
Piccadilly, Manchester, LAN


Piccadilly is at the eastern end of Market Street. Two of the large hotels in the above image, the Mosley and the Albion, were open for business here in the 1820s; the Albion (the building above the second tram from the left) was in Piccadilly whilst the Mosley (first on the left) was said to be in Market Street[1].

The Albion Hotel was one of principal hotels and inns of Manchester in the 1840s. The Mosley Arms Hotel was described as a coaching house and there was a coach office on the premises. The Adelphi was then the third principal hotel in Piccadilly. There were also hackney coach stands at this time[2], presumably where the horse drawn cabs and then the taxis waited for fares later on.

In the early twentieth century image, above, we can see numerous shops occupying the ground floors of many of the buildings as we look along Piccadilly. For example, trading in the ground floor of the Mosley Hotel was Edwd Shaw and Co. of 11 Piccadilly (to the left of the hotel's canopied main entrance) and Brooke Bond & Co. was one of two stores on the right of its entrance. Shaw's, later of 13 Piccadilly, were a firm established in 1857. They were manufacturers of "the highest grade of Perambulators, Mail Carts and Bath chairs" - at reasonable prices! They also had premises on Stretford Road. Brooke Bond's advertisements stated that their tea was sold by 30,000 agents in 1903, and selling for between 1s/2d and 2s/8d[3].

To return to the hotels and some of their history, Slater's Directories of Important English Towns listed the following Inns & Hotels in Piccadilly in 1847:

  • Albion Hotel, Thomas Johnson, 19 Piccadilly;
  • Brunswick George Fanshaw, Piccadilly;
  • Mosley (commercial), James & Margaret Richardson, 13 Piccadilly;
  • Queen's (family & Commercial), Samuel Towers, 2 Piccadilly[4].

Piccadilly from Infirmary, Manchester
Horse drawn cabs for hire are lined up along one side of Piccadilly with,
from the right, Leveson's and the Albion Hotel behind the trams. Leveson's was another
business selling invalid chairs and carriages as well as perambulators and mail carts[5].
Note the lack of overhead tram wires, too. Before 1903.
On the far left is the Royal Hotel, behind which is the unmistakable tower of the Lewis's store
building ( see previous page).

The following were here in 1877-8:

  • Albion Family & Commercial Hotel, John G Adami, 19, 21 & 23 Piccadilly & 2 Oldham St;
  • Brunswick George Fanshaw, Piccadilly;
  • Hotel des Etrangers, Robert T Brooks, Piccadilly;
  • Merchants, 4 Oldham st, Piccadilly;
  • Mosley (commercial), Jonathan Crowther, 13 Piccadilly;
  • Queen's (family & Commercial, Frederick Mehl, 1 Portland st & 2 Piccadilly.[6]

Jonathan Crowther, the manager of the Mosley Hotel from the mid 1870s until his death in 1885, had lived in Manchester since 1825 and had previously run the Angel in Market Street for many years. His Widow, Harriet, died at the Mosley in 1886. Their furniture and other effects from the hotel were sold[7] and the Mosley re-opened in 1888, managed by Charles Schimpf[8]. Edward Garcia had taken over the hotel's lease in 1887 and spent about £2000 altering and improving hotel[9]. About 1893 the Ewens rebuilt it but, as Mr. Garcia had done previously, became bankrupt in 1899[10].

The Albion hotel was built in 1780 and originally stood in an orchard with a river, The Tib, in front of it. In its early years the hotel's proprietors hired out boats[11].

A scandal at the hotel, when the manager's wife had an affair with a local businessman, caused a minor sensation in the mid 1890s[12]. In January 1901 the hotel was sold at auction by Messrs William Wilson and Son. There was a large crowd but bidding, which began at £40,000, was only between 5-6 people. It sold for £83,000[13].


Piccadilly, about 1912
The boundary wall and railings of the former Manchester Royal Infirmary are on
the right. They followed the shape of the ornamental pond constructed on what had been
Daub Holes. The first hospital was built here in 1752 and it was rebuilt in 1826.
Its creation was conditional on the land remaining open to the public for ever[14].
Sir Joseph Paxton laid out the grounds in front of the Infirmary in 1854[15].
The large poster attached to the railings reads Manchester Royal Infirmary in large capitals.
It is possibly a poster about the Infirmary's closure as the grounds are looking ill-kempt.

Love commented that in 1842 many still remembered when "the pleasant sheet of water" outside the Infirmary had been a stagnant pond". He went on to add that the Infirmary itself covered "an extensive plot of ground in the centre of the town" adding that the water was "kept pure by the daily admission of a fresh supply"[2]. The stretch of water, where the Albion's manager had rented out the boats, appears on the 1848 OS map (Lancashire Sheet CIV). Paxton seems to have covered this over.

We can see all five statues placed on the Infirmary side of the road, four by the Victorians and the fifth, of Victoria herself, in the early years of the Edwardian era. Nearest in the bronze statue commemorating the "Iron Duke" of Wellington, inaugurated in 1856. It was sculpted by a Mr. Noble; the figure is 13 feet high, and is placed on a square granite pedestal nineteen feet high[16]. By then the water area had been converted into a flagged promenade with fountains rising from two basins.

The statues of the two politicians, Peel and Wellington, were then on either side, with a central space left between them for a future statue of the Queen. Peels' statue, of a similar height to Wellington's, can be seen further along. His statue had been inaugurated in 1853. Designed by William Calder Marshall A.R.A., it was cast by Messrs. Robinson and Cottam of Pimlico and delivered to Manchester by train. It weighed three tons and its overall height is 22 feet 6 inches[17].

A bronze statue to John Dalton, the renowned chemist and physicist, was erected in 1855 although is now outside Manchester Metropolitan University. The fourth bronze statue, to James Watt (the 18th century inventor and instrument maker), was unveiled in 1857[18]. Queen Victoria's statue was unveiled in October 1901[19]. It can be seen, opposite the Albion Hotel, in both the image immediately above and the one below.


Piccadilly, 1923
By 1923 a tram shelter had been erected opposite the Albion (the brown
building on the corner of Oldham Street) and motor vehicles had replaced the
horse drawn cabs. Amusingly, one cab had a puncture as a wheel is being changed.
In his later years Randolph Walker, one of the web mistresses' great
grandfathers, was employed at the Albion by Mrs Bittel. This postcard was
published shortly after his death[20].

The first indications of the Albion hotel's removal from Piccadilly were in 1926. In February Messrs. Woolworth purchased the hotel; the sale price was believed to be about £260,000. They intended to build a superstore on the site and it was thought that other buildings might also be redeveloped. Plans for the Albion to move to an alternative site in central Manchester were well advanced[21]. In June it was announced that the hotel was to close on 28th September and would be demolished. It had been a city landmark for nearly 150 years[11]. Four thousand bottles of wine, part of the cellar contents, were auctioned in late September. Although not many attended, the bidding was described as "keen" with prices for a dozen bottles of port wine varying from 78s to 160s. The following day brandies, cocktails, clarets, Burgundies, and a small quantity of cigars went under the hammer[22]. Finally, "Bricks, Slates, Timber, Marble Banqueting Hall, Marble Steps, Shop Windows, Stained Glass Windows, Baths, Lavatory Basins, WC's ..." were on offer by applying directly to the site or to a firm in Ardwick[23].


Piccadilly, 1905
View of the former Manchester Royal Infirmary and Piccadilly Gardens
from the Market Street junction. This building had occupied the large the
city centre site since it was rebuilt.

The demise of the Manchester Royal Infirmary on the opposite side of the road from the hotels was not without drama. There was considerable disagreement amongst the hospital's Board of Management in 1902 about once more rebuilding the Royal Infirmary on the Piccadilly site, a matter that resulted in 22 of the 24 board members resigning. It was deemed that it would be difficult to dispose of the site[24]. It was, however, subsequently sold to the corporation for £400,000 and a new site was found on Oxford Road. In 1908 The Lord Mayor divulged that the major reason for his own decision regarding moving the hospital to a new site was the enormous number of trams in Piccadilly at any one time. He felt the patients needed somewhere quieter[25]. The new building was opened by King Edward VII on 6 July 1909, when wards were named after him and his wife, Queen Alexandra[26].

The old hospital was then demolished but the city council faced severe criticism from a former Councillor who stood amongst bricks, tin cans and other debris in 1914 to declare that "the long desolation of the Piccadilly site was a reproach to the city"[27]. One can only imagine what the hotels' visitors must have thought of the view from their windows.

In 1921 it opened as a public garden, something Alderman Tom Fox thought was a miracle. He said that "many distinguished visitors to the city had cast their eyes on this desolate heap of rubbish, and had turned away in scorn". Ex-servicemen had assisted in moving three hundred tons of rubbish, including some 25,000 bricks which were sold for the benefit of the city funds[28].



Whilst the above story finishes in 1926, the sad postscript is that the Christmas Blitz of 1940 caused extensive damage to central Manchester and Piccadilly Gardens were turned into lakes to help the fire brigades. There are many pictures on the Internet that show the damage and the bomb sites.


1. "Piccadilly, Manchester". Boots Cash Chemist "Pelham" Series No.1. Posted on 11 Aug 1912. Another was posted in 1908.
2. "Piccadilly from Infirmary, Manchester". W. A. & S., S. "Grosvenor Series", published by William Ashton & Sons, Southport. Posted on 5 Oct 1907 at Withington.
3. "Piccadilly, Manchester". Boots Cash Chemist "Pelham" Series. Posted on 11 Aug 1912 at Droylesden.
4. "Piccadilly, Manchester". Valentine's "Valesque" Series. Copyright Picture (Registered), No. 88498, first registered in 1923. Unused.
5. "Piccadilly and Royal Infirmary, Manchester". Empire Series, London, No. 355. Copyright. Posted 24 May 1907.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] "Pigot & Co.'s Directory of Cheshire, Cumberland ..., 1828-29.", Part 1. The Albion was then run by Robert Wilson.

[2] Love, Benjamin (1842) "The Hand-book of Manchester: Containing Statistical and General Information on the Trade...", published Manchester by Love and Barton, Market Street. Second Edition. The first edition was published in 1839. Although Love does not describe what a hackney coach was, it seems to have been larger than a hackney cab.

[3] "Manchester Evening News," 26 March 1903. "Warrington Guardian", 21 October 1903. Brooke Bond was at 19 Piccadilly.

[4] "Slater's Directories of Important English Towns, 1847." Published by Isaac Slater (late Pigot and Co.), Fountain Street, Manchester and Fleet Street, London.

[5] "Illustrated London News", 26 May 1900. Leveson's, of 35 Piccadilly, had four other shops in Leeds, Liverpool and two in London.

[6] "Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1877-8", Part 2: Trades, Institutions, Streets, etc..

[7] References to the Crowthers include: "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser" 18 April 1882, "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 4 June 1887; census returns and probate records. Jonathan passed away at the hotel on 5 Jan 1885 and his Widow, Harriet, died at the Mosley on 26 Oct 1886.

[8] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 17 Jan 1888.

[9] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 20 Sep 1890 "Manchester Times", 28 June 1890.

[10] "Morning Post", 25 April 1899.

[11] "Lancashire Evening Post", 19 June 1926. End of 150 Year Old Hotel.

[12] "Sheffield Independent", 30 Jan 1896. and "Bury Free Press", 8 Feb 1896.

[13] "Globe", 31 Jan 1901 (£83,000 for a Hotel) and "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 6 Feb 1901.

[14] If it did not remain open to the public it was supposed to revert to the Mosley family. Read: Moore, James R. (Oct 2017) "Urban space and civic identity in Manchester 1780 -1914 : Piccadilly Square and the art gallery question".

[15] "Manchester Times", 24 June 1854. Joseph Paxton, of the Great Exhibition of 1851 fame, designed Chatsworth's Grand Conservatory and was buried at Edensor, both in Derbyshire.

[16] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 2 Sep 1856. Inauguration of the Wellington Statue at Manchester.

[17] "Nottingham Journal", 14 Oct 1853 and "Preston Chronicle" 8 Oct 1853.

[18] "The Globe", 27 June 1857. Watt was not, as is widely thought, the inventor of steam engine; he improved Newcomen's earlier engine by adding a condenser.

[19] "Liverpool Daily Post", 14 Sept 1901. "The Queen Victoria statue which is in course of erection ... [it] will be ready for unveiling in the early part of next month". Queen Victoria had passed away on 22 Jan 1901.

[20] See Our Genealogy, Walker

[21] "Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 22 Feb 1926.

[22] "Manchester Evening News", 20 Sep 1926. To-day's Great Wine Sale in Manchester..

[23] "Manchester Evening News", 4 Oct 1926. Demolition of Albion Hotel Piccadilly.

[24] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 23 September 1902. The Infirmary Crisis.

[25] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 8 April 1908.

[26] "Northern Daily Telegraph", 6 July 1909.

[27] "Daily Citizen", 18 July 1914. Infirmary Site is Our Disgrace.

[28] "Rochdale Times", 24 September 1921. Piccadilly Gardens.




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