The Principal Hotel - Oxford Road & Whitworth Street

The Principal Hotel occupies the Refuge Insurance Building on Oxford Road and Whitworth Street.  It is infact two building, Building 1 by Alfred Waterhouse (the architect of the Town Hall) and Building 2 by his son Paul. Surmounted by the 217 foot tall clock tower, this has always been a Manchester landmark. Alfred Waterhouse completed Building 1 in 1895 and Paul completed Building 2 in 1912. It was further extended along Whitworth Street by Stanley Birkett in 1932.

Until November of 2017 it was known as the Palace Hotel but, following a refurbishment that is said to hgave cost in excess of £25M, it reopened as the Principal Hotel.  The somewhat iconic red "PALACE" sign that had stood near the top of the clock tower for many years was replaced with a rather more discrete white "PRINCIPAL" sign.  The new name is also displayed at street level along Oxford Road.

The images below show the hotel prior to the refurbishment and name change.

Here it is in the early years.  Notice the spire atop the tower at the corner of Oxford Road and Whitworth Street.  This no longer exists.

It was finally converted to a hotel in 1996 by Richard Newman.

The buildings are constructed of red brick and terracotta and the inside featured Burmantofts faience and glazed brick. The ground floor was one enormous open business hall. Under the clock tower is a large ornamental portico of polished gray granite. An entry in the Flickr web site says this of the building "The interior of The Refuge is, if anything, even more breathtaking than the façade, glittering with stained-glass, faience and iron and would have left on unforgettable impression in the ghostly green glow of Welsbach lamps. There is a marvelous marble and bronze staircase fit for The Vatican."

The 1996 £7 million refurbishment by Richard Newman was done on behalf of Meridien Palace Hotels Limited, who run the building as the four-star Palace Hotel. It has 257 en-suite guest rooms, numerous bars and conference rooms, as well as an 810-seat open plan restaurant.

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