Sir Charles Barry

Sir Charles Barry was born in Westminster, London, in 1795.  He was apprenticed to a surveyor at the age of 15 but after inheriting money he travelled extensively in Europe and the Middle East which inspired him to become an architect.  He is best known for the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster in collaboration with August Pugin.  His first major commission, though, came in Manchester, where he won a competition to design the Manchester Institution for the promotion of Literature, Science and Arts.

The Royal Manchester Institute - now the Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street - 1824 - 1835


The Athenaeum, Princess Street - 1836 - 1839

The Athenæum Club was founded by a group of gentlemen who saw the need for an institution that combined the social and intellectual elements but remained free from political bias. The first meeting was held on the 13th October in 1835. The group proposed raising a fund of at least £10,000 with the the purpose of erecting a suitable building, in a central situation. A site was chosen and Sir Charles Barry prepared the designs from which this building was constructed.  The Athenaeum Club was bought by Manchester city council in 1938, and in the years that followed it was used as offices, conservation studios and a store. Today it is part of the Manchester Art Gallery having been attached to the adjacent original gallery by a glass atrium.


The Unitarian Chapel, Upper Brook Street - 1836 - 1839

In 1928 changes in the nature of the district led to the sale of the chapel and its new occupants were members of a Welsh Baptist congregation.  Later it was used as a Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall.  The building fell into disrepair after it was abandoned.  In 2006 the building was so unsafe that part of the chapel was demolished.  The annex was also declared unsafe.  Since then the annex has been reopened and is being used as an Islamic Academy.