Linley House - Dickinson Street

Linley House is a building that you have to make some effort to see since it is hidden in a sort of courtyard surrounded by tall buildings.  Only by looking down Dickinson Street from Portland Street  (see above) or down Bloom Street from Princess Street are you likely to see it.  The concrete and steel, eight storey, curtain wall office building was once the home to the North West Electricity Board.  It was built in 1963 by H. S. Fairhurst & Son.

In 2010 United Utilities Property Solutions, the building's owners, announced that they had completed a £3.5 Million refurbishment of the building.  In May of 2011 floors 2 to 6 of the building were being offered "to let".  The letting agencies said that Cable & Wireless UK were occupying the first floor and Electricity North West were using the 7th and 8th floors.  Below you can see the view from Bloom Street.

The old brick wall, in the image below, is a remnant of the building that once stood on this site.

Looking at an aerial photograph of the site in 1953 reveals that the present building's connection to United Utilities, Electricity Northwest and its former connection to the Northwest Electricity Board makes a great deal of sense.  This enclosed site was at that time occupied by a large industrial building which turns out to be the Dickinson Road Power Station.  I have outlined it in red.  It was built in 1893 when it was the only power station serving the city centre.

If you look at the aerial photograph above you will notice that a bridge crossed the Rochdale Canal into the power station site.  That bridge is still there as you can see in the image below.

Access to the bridge was via a small stair tower located in Atwood Street (see below).  It is also still there and on it is rusty plaque bearing the letters MCED, which I assume stands for the Manchester Corporation Electricity Department.

As you can see from the map below, a spur of the Rochdale Canal ran towards Portland Street in those days providing access to barges bringing coal to the station.  If you click on the link below you can see an image from the time.
Barges at the Dickinson Street Power Station.

When it opened, the plant consisted of 7 Lancashire Boilers and 10 vertical steam engines with belt drive dynamos.  Within four years demand had increased so much that a new boiler house was added with 10 additional boilers.  Six of the small generating sets were replaced by two large 2,500 horse-power engines.

When the Dickinson Power Station started work it served an area of about half a square mile around the city centre but by the mid 1890s agreements were drawn up to supply electricity to a much wider area encompassing districts like Moss Side, Withington, Levenshulme, Gorton, Denton, Droylsden, Audenshaw, Heaton Norris, and Failsworth.  To address this increased demand a second station was built nearby in Bloom Street.  Unlike the Dickinson Street Station, which was demolished some time between 1953 and 1963, its neighbour in Bloom Street is still standing, although no longer generating.

Combined Heat and Power sites are all the fashion in 2011 but they aren't a new idea.  in 1901 steam pipes ran from the Dickinson and Bloom Street Stations taking the exhaust steam away to heat the Refuge Building, the Palace Theatre and St. Mary's Hospital.  This apparently stopped in 1985 when Bloom Street closed.

Before Linley House was built, the canal spur that ran beside it was filled in providing space for the extensive car parking provision bragged about by the letting agents.  Today you can see evidence of this branch of the canal.  The concrete wall in the image below, above which the cars are parked, marks the spot where the canal once branched-off.

Actually if you dig back a bit further you will discover that in the middle of the 19th Century there were two canal spurs running away from the Rochdale Canal.  They created a peninsula, as you can see below.  So before the power station was built, this peninsula of land was occupied by the Globe Iron Works, a timber yard and the Dickinson Street Cotton Mill.

A. - Oxford Street
B. - Rochdale Canal
C. - Dickinson Street
D. - Now Whitworth Street

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