Hidden above The Bank pub on Mosley street lies one of Manchester’s better-kept secrets, the stunning Portico Library.
Accessed via a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it buzzer on Charlotte street, the solid door opens onto a winding staircase, in turn leading to a beautiful hidden library filled with floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with rows of rare books.
Run using a membership format for over 200 years, it opened its gallery space up to the public in 2017 meaning you can visit and explore some parts of the impressive building – however, unlike your local library, you cannot browse the shelves as the books are very fragile.
The second oldest library in the city after Chetham’s, the Portico is home to over 25,000 books and has a long literary history. First established in 1806, its early members included world-famous authors, future Prime Ministers, and leading scientists.
Despite running on a membership format, according to the library’s Events and Programme’s Co-ordinator James Moss, the general public have been encouraged to come in since the 1980s.
“It was initially a members institution but guests were welcome since the very early days of the library,” he added.
Founded at a time when Manchester was becoming the world’s first ‘modern’ city, the Portico was built with wealth amassed by titans of industry involved in colonialism and the industrial revolution.
However, its early members – all men until the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870 – included people from all political perspectives, ranging from radical and liberal abolitionists and anti-poverty campaigners to exploitative factory owners.
Once frequented by such famous names as author Elizabeth Gaskell, founder of atomic theory John Dalton, and Peter Mark Roget (who wrote the first English thesaurus), today it is run by a charity and is home to the prestigious Portico Prize, promoting writing and publishing across the north.
The library is also behind the Sadie Massey Awards which nurture literacy and learning among young people.
Within lies a veritable treasure trove of historic literature and rare 19th-century books, including a first translated edition of Goethe’s influential work about how humans perceive and interpret color that is in desperate need of repair.
Sadly, a number of books in the library’s 19th-century collection are damaged to the extent that the team has even created an endangered books list to catalogue those that urgently need restoring.
From historical records, ranging from books of proprietors to minutes books, issue books, and strangers books, to works of poetry and missives on travel, there are some incredible texts stored within its walls.
Open to the public five days a week, the Portico library also hosts an eclectic calendar of events and exhibitions as well as welcoming guests to visit its cafe and shop.
The library’s gallery space is now home to a cute cafe where you can dine in on tea, sandwiches, and cake, however, its gorgeous private reading room remains off-limits – with private tours available to those looking to pursue membership to arrange on request.
To find out more about the Portico, visit its website here.
Feature image – The Portico Library
‘A step too far’: Manchester clothing brand accuses Primark of ripping off its designs
A Manchester clothing brand has accused Primark of ripping off its designs, taking to social media to air its frustration after the high street shop released a copycat hoodie.
In a now-deleted Instagram video, local clothing retailer Hikerdelic compared a Primark ‘Explore Nature’ kid’s hoodie to one of its original designs and then highlighted how both the logos and overall aesthetic are nearly identical.
Hikerdelic’s logo features its brand name set into a grassy hill, below a pink and yellow sun with rays stretching outwards.
Primark’s design also features wording set into a grassy hill below a beaming sun, albeit this time the message reads ‘Explore Nature’ and the colour scheme is ever so slightly different using purple and coral instead of pink and yellow.
Hikerdelic was first founded by Proper Magazine’s Mark Smith and Neil Summers in Stockport five years ago, and the logo in question is of sentimental value – being the first that the team ever designed in partnership with artist Daren Newman.
Taking to Instagram to vent over the similarities, the caption underneath the Ancoats-based brand’s video read: “We’ve been sitting on this for a while. From time to time we find stuff out there similar to ours, but usually it’s just a case of people being influenced by similar things. It’s hard to be 100% original.
“This though, from a corporate behemoth we’re all familiar with, is a step too far, in our opinion. We’d be tempted to turn the other cheek and get on with doing our thing normally.
“Sometimes though, when someone kicks sand in your face you’ve got to let them know it’s not really on. At the end of the day it’s a business that makes hundreds of millions a year in clear profit. They don’t need to step on toes.”
The post continued: “This was the first logo we worked with @daren_newman on, and although we’ve got plenty more in our armoury, it’s the one that we began with. It’s not just us who are affected but talented independent illustrators too.”
“We all know everything new is inspired by something that has gone before and it can be difficult to stay original, however it’s clear to see this is something different to that and the response on our Instagram has backed that up.”
Feature image – Hikerdelic
Plans revealed to build Manchester’s tallest skyscraper – with 71st-floor restaurant
Plans have been revealed for a cluster of new skyscrapers in Manchester city centre, including one tower that would become the city’s tallest building.
Property developer Renaker, which was behind the huge Deansgate Square neighbourhood that transformed the city skyline, shared its proposals for the next phase of the Great Jackson Street Development.
The five new towers would bring 2,388 new homes to Manchester city centre, in an area that was previously used as surface car parks.
If approved, ‘The Lighthouse’ would stand at 71 storeys tall, overtaking Deansgate Square’s South Tower (64 storeys) to become Manchester’s tallest skyscraper.
It would also be the tallest building in the UK outside of London.
The proposals have put forward the idea of having a restaurant on the top floor of The Lighthouse, which would be the city’s highest food and drink establishment by a long way (the current record belongs to 20 Stories).
The other four towers would stand in the corners of a newly-created public square, and Renaker plans to build two of them at 51 storeys and two at