But not so in the early decades of the last century when the Corporation decided to do something bold and innovative with the hole that was the Manchester Infirmary and is now Piccadilly Gardens.
There were plenty of suggestions including plans for an art gallery these never happened.
The books are a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the history of the City. I plundered them back in the early 1970s but had since pretty much forgotten about them.
So Neil’s discovery reunited me with an old set of friends and in the 1935 edition was this article on the new proposed art gallery.
The Corporation was well aware that “the space available in the Central Gallery had become overcrowded and great difficulty was experienced in finding accommodation for displaying the treasures to advantage,”*
In 1925 after an open competition had been launched the design by Mr. E. Berry Webber was selected. He was “29 years old, has designed a building which in all essentials admirably fulfil its functions as a Gallery and Museum of Applied Art and will at the same time , be a building in which the public can see what is to be seen easily and methodically. “
It was to be a building “in which clarity of design is essential [and one which] with its simple and dignified elevation and its freedom from irrelevant ornament will look what it is namely a, a place for the exhibition and study of Art.”
The financial crash in 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression meant that on grounds of economy the City Council took the decision in 1931 to defer its construction for five years.
Picture; the proposed new Art Gallery, 1935 from How Manchester is Managed, Manchester City Council, 1935, page 73
*How Manchester is Managed, Manchester City Council, 1935, pages 72-73