Successful Edgar Wood Arts & Crafts day

David Morris treated 15 Edgar Wood enthusiasts to a day of visits and talks about the art and craft of the great Manchester architect.

They first visited Jubilee Library, built in 1887 and one of the earliest arts & crafts libraries in the country, blending rustic oak timber framing with state-of-the-art reinforced concrete.

At St. Leonard’s Church people saw stunning arts and crafts windows by a host of famous designers, including Christopher Whall and A. K. Nicholson. Edgar Wood designed the beautifully traditional roof and oversaw the conservation of the building in 1907. His crafted drawing of the medieval rood screen showed how it was before conservation.

Everyone then went to view Edgar Wood’s 1906 redesign of Jubilee Park which had the old Middleton church crowning the landscape. The art deco fountain awaits restoration but the ceremonial staircase is now looking good. David later showed slides on how the fountain and park could be restored to their original art deco design.

The fourth visit was to 36 Mellalieu Street. It was designed the same time in 1906 and shoes a perfect blend of advanced modern styling and old vernacular features.

Edgar Wood’s creation of early art deco styling was much in evidence in the afternoon slideshows as was his pioneering of art nouveau and thr arts anf crafts.

These buildings illustrated the early and mature phases of Edgar Wood’s architecture. His stylish middle period was also much in evidence in the venue of the day, the Arts & Crafts church, Long Street Methodist.

The event was relaxed and informal with an exhibition of Edgar Wood relatef artefacts, books and paintings provided by the Edgar Wood Society.

David thanks Geoff Grime, Dave Brennand, Tim Hill and the staff of Jubilee Library for making their buildings accessible and Mark Watson for providing the paintings.

Nick Baker talks about Pennine Arts and Crafts

Last night at Lindley Methodist Church, Huddersfield, 80 people attended a fascinating lecture by Nick Baker about the Arts & Crafts Movement in the Pennine areas and the impact of the Northern Art Workers Guild.

Nick identified the principal architects, such as Barry Parker, Edgar Wood and Walter Brierley and the Guild’s artists, like sculptor J. J. Millson, plasterer J. R. Cooper, metal worker George Wragge, painter Frederick Jackson, and sculptor Stirling Lee, who combined their talents to enrich the strucures erected by the architects, both on the outside and in the decoration and furnishing of rooms.

Hollins Hill, now Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington, 1909, by Walter Brierley

Nick introduced the audience to many new buildings as well as presenting old favourites in a new light. He also highlighted the importance of the northern Arts & Crafts movement to the development of European fin de siecle architecture and how buildings like the grade I listed Banney Royd, Egerton, Huddersfield had international fame.

Banney Royd, Egerton, 1900, by Edgar Wood

First Church of Christ Scientist

The Edgar Wood Society assists the conservation of Edgar Wood buildings wherever it can and, over the years, has met many owners. This is the wonderful First Church, Manchester, which is to have a new use for events and weddings. The photo shows the owner, Mr. Danny Samuels (centre), Bill Wingrove and P.R. expert Becky Roberts with the famous organ screen in the background.

Edgar Wood lecture given to Chester Civic Trust

This evening, Edgar Wood Society chair, David Morris, gave an illustrated lecture to Chester Civic Trust entitled “Edgar Wood – that Remarkable Manchester Architect”. The event was held in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester and, afterwards, David joined a group who retired to a nearby pub for an enjoyable chat about Edgar Wood and his buildings. The Trust is now planning a visit to Middleton next year.

Edgar Wood houses listed as (possibly) the first art nouveau houses in the world

Hillcrest and Briarhill, 37-39 Rochdale Road, Middleton were built by Edgar Wood in 1892 as ‘new art’ town houses, next door to Redcroft and Fencegate, 33-35 Rochdale Road, which were a matching pair of ‘country houses’.

After detailed research by the research group of the Edgar Wood Society for Heritage Trust for the North West, Hillcrest and Briarhill have now been listed grade II, despite their poor condition. They have enormous historical importance as possibly the worlds first art nouveau houses. Edgar Wood’s design was published in the UK, USA and Europe in 1893 and it pre-dates by a year what are generally considered to be the ‘world’s first’ art nouveau designs by Belgium’s Victor Horta and Paul Hankar.

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Mumbai art deco

Mumbai art deco – Increasingly, towns and cities with art deco buildings are beginning to value them.  Mumbai is India’s largest city with over two hundred art deco buildings and, in this regard, is second only to Miami, USA. Here are two recent articles with photos about Mumbai’s art deco…  Mumbai’s Art Deco buildings survive against the odds  and  Take a virtual tour of Mumbai’s Art Deco treasures  …There’s also a website dedicated to the city’s art deco… http://www.artdecomumbai.com/

Restoration of the Wesleyan School – Update

The Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust’s THI grant scheme to restore the Long Street Wesleyan School has been racing along these last few months, headed by architect, Lisa Mcfarlane of Seven Architecture. The finance is almost all in place, the work has been tendered and a contractor chosen. Now the final details are being nailed down.

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Willow Tea Rooms update

Willow Tea Rooms update – The last time I saw Mackintosh’s Willow Tea Rooms, they were looking a little seedy. Now the exterior is fully restored with the interior to follow (via an eye-watering restoration budget). Here are two articles with photos bringing you up to date…  Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s restored Willow Tea Rooms revealed  and  Willow Tea Rooms will complete stunning transformation with £4m lottery boost.

The First Church of Christ Scientist, Manchester is on the market

First Church of Christ Scientist, in Victoria Park, Manchester is on the market and is likely to have a change of use. Agents Canning O’Neill are open minded as to what that use might entail but a well aware of the outstanding significance of the building. 

It would be great to find a new sensitive use that can also conserve and restore this Edgar Wood masterpiece. For example, why not reinstate the lost Edgar Wood chimneys at the ends of the wings (see photo) and undertake historical paint analysis to restore Edgar Wood’s original internal colour scheme? Along with the Middleton and Hale designs, The First Church has the potential to put Manchester on the international art nouveau visitor trail.

‘Lutyens in Lancashire’ lecture by Richard Fletcher

Richard showing an early photo of Lutyens’ Abbey House

Richard Fletcher delivered this afternoon’s Edgar Wood Society lecture on the subject of Lutyens in Lancashire.

It was a fascinating overview of Lutyens’ designs in the county, including his Grade I listed Rochdale Cenotaph and its cousin in Manchester. Rochdale also has the adjacent Post Office (but with an uncertain attribution) while Manchester has the impressive and definitely Lutyens Midland Bank, both white Portland stone buildings. Liverpool, on the other hand, has the huge crypt of Liverpool Cathedral which is just a fragment of the vast cathedral originally planned as Lutyens’ finest building. But it never came to be, apart for the large scale model now at Liverpool Museum (photo above by Mike Peel www.mikepeel.net ). Richard’s talk brought to the fore many interesting connections and anecdotes about people and buildings and how each linked into the wider historical scene.

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