John Ryland was a textile merchant and manufacturer who became Manchester's first multi-millionaire. He employed 15,000 people in his 17 mills and factories, producing 35 tons of cloth a day. He had a warehouse in Manchester that in 1854 suffered a huge fire. An early postcard of Market Street shows a warehouse across from Lewis's, where Debenhams sits today, which has Rylands name on it.
John Rylands died at his home, Longford Hall, in Stretford, in 1888, but in 1932 Harry S. Fairhurst & P. G. Fairhurst built the building you see below, on this site, as a warehouse for Rylands. In a city of textile warehouses this was the biggest.
The upper floors were designed as a warehouse but at street level it was intended to be used as shops, as you can see in the photograph. You can see that the name Rylands is displayed across the front.
Clare Hartewell, the author of the Manchester Pevsner Architectural Guide, describes it as "Stripped classicism in Portland stone with huge corner turrets turned from the frontage at an angle of forty-five degrees. Elevations are enlivened by ornamentatal metalwork and zigzag patterns in stone."