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47 Piccadilly including warehouse facing Back Piccadilly

A Grade II Listed Building in City Centre, Manchester

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Latitude: 53.4812 / 53°28'52"N

Longitude: -2.2352 / 2°14'6"W

OS Eastings: 384485

OS Northings: 398306

OS Grid: SJ844983

Mapcode National: GBR DLH.P2

Mapcode Global: WHB9G.MRTK

Plus Code: 9C5VFQJ7+FW

Entry Name: 47 Piccadilly including warehouse facing Back Piccadilly

Listing Date: 6 June 1994

Last Amended: 17 July 2020

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1271231

English Heritage Legacy ID: 455656

Location: Piccadilly, Manchester, M1

County: Manchester

Electoral Ward/Division: City Centre

Built-Up Area: Manchester

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Manchester Cathedral

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

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Town house with attached rear warehouse, probably 1776 and mid-C19 respectively, the warehouse incorporating C18 fabric, both with alterations.


Town house with attached rear warehouse, probably 1776 and mid-C19 respectively, the warehouse incorporating C18 fabric, both with alterations.

MATERIALS: brown brick (with stucco to the front) with slate roofs.

PLAN: a linear range aligned approximately north-south and comprising a double-pile house with a warehouse to the rear, with a lightwell between the two.

EXTERIOR: standing in the Stevenson Square Conservation Area on the north side of Piccadilly, abutting a row of listed C19 warehouses. A substantial dwelling of three storeys, very different in quality and appearance from contemporary, purpose-built workshop dwellings.

The (south) front façade is stucco (now - 2020 - painted) scored to resemble ashlar masonry, above a modern shopfront. It is three bays wide, below a low parapet and modillion eaves cornice which extends at the left over a narrow recessed vertical strip. The second-floor openings (externally-boarded in 2019) have quirked-bead surrounds, with a continuous sill band. The first-floor openings are taller, and have moulded architraves with pilasters and cornices, housing replacement mock-sashes. The sills are concealed by the shopfront cornice. To the left of the shopfront an external roller shutter obscures the entrance.

The west wall is largely concealed by supporting scaffolding, but where visible its outer face is roughly-laid and unpointed, with extensive mortar snots extruded through the joints. At the left angle the (north) rear wall is visible in profile. At the south end, the ridge chimney stack of the house is carried up the full height of number 49’s west wall.

The north wall (facing Back Piccadilly) is of brick, mostly laid in English Bond but with English Garden Wall bond in the gable. The north wall also has a shopfront at ground floor, with external roller shutters. It has a shallow gable with exposed, stone-coped verges. The right-hand bay has a loading slot vertically spanning the upper bays, with recessed wooden doors and cut-off projecting beams over the upper door. The lintel above these has altered brickwork. Other lintels are segmental arches of soldier bricks. Windows are timber vertical-sliding sashes with slender meeting rails and no horns; the upper floor has a single vertical glazing bar per sash, and the first floor has no glazing bars and inserted extraction fans, plus modern security grilles. The east wall either abuts or is formed of the west wall of number 49, and is not visible externally.

Between the house and the warehouse the eastern half of the plot is a former yard. At the ground floor this is now covered with a felt roof but it remains open to the sky, with white paint or wash covering the walls up to the level of the eaves of the house. The south wall of the house has two window openings with wide stone sills and flat lintels. The blue-slate roof is visible, with the ridge-stack running up the side of number 49. The west side is formed by the east wall of the rear wing to the house, which contains the stair landings; each landing has a window opening with a stone sill and segmental head. This wall rises above the house eaves and has a south return which is gabled. Both of these walls are of hand-made brick of late-C18 or early-C19 date. The north side of the well is formed by the south wall of the warehouse, which is gabled with stone copings, the gable continuing across the north face of the rear wing of the house. It has large openings with C20 windows and stone sills. The east side is formed by the west wall of number 49.

INTERIOR: the ground-floor shop extends beneath the former yard between the house and warehouse, and has entirely modern shopfittings.

The entrance to the left of the shop opens into a hallway with C20 floor-tiles and suspended ceiling. Above this a modillion cornice survives. The basement is accessed via a stair with closed string, enclosed by a modern partition. At the foot of the basement stair is a small area of Victorian floor tiling. Some Victorian doors and architraves remain. The front portion of the basement beneath the house is partitioned off and retains a chimney breast. To the rear, the C18 brickwork of the rear wing is visible, with a straight vertical joint to the C19 brickwork of a small room added to the north. A rolled steel joist supports the floor above. To the east of the rear wing of the house the basement is open to the warehouse beyond.

On the west side, between the house and warehouse is a three-storey lightwell which retains traces of limewash to the walls. The ground floor of this retains an iron grate draining into the basement. A ground-floor window is blocked with C19 bricks. Other window openings are found on the first and second floors, in the north and south walls, with stone sills and soldier-brick segmental arches. Three of these retain partially-surviving windows of apparent C18 date, which are vertical sliding sashes with vertical glazing bars.

The house stair has a ramped banister rail with a boxed-in balustrade and inserted nosers. Former toilets on the landings (in the rear outshut) retain some lath-and-plaster ceilings and the windows looking into the lightwell. At second-floor the ceilings have lightwells to former skylights, which are lined with lath-and-plaster. The second floor also retains some lath-and-plaster ceilings, late-C19 sash windows to the front openings, and the chimney breast, together with lime plaster to the walls.

The rear warehouse is open at the basement and second floor. C21 shoring supports the western wall in the basement. Timber beams to each floor are carried by iron shoes attached to the side walls. These are largely concealed by suspended ceilings at the ground and first floors, which also have much C20 partitioning. A chimney breast abuts the west wall from the ground floor to second floor, and projects through the roof. The second floor has a ridge skylight, lattice trusses of late-C19 date, and a hoist in the north-west corner. In the south-east corner a cubicle with plasterboard partitions conceals the northern wall of the lightwell between the warehouse and the rear wing of the house. An opening in the partition reveals the second-floor window opening in the brick wall that forms the north side of the lightwell, with a stone sill. Through this the windows in the south wall of the rear wing of the house are visible. The second-floor window is missing its lintel and the outer skin of the adjacent brickwork above. The west side of the lightwell has a brick abutment from the first floor down.


A deed of 1776 indicates the likely date of construction of the house, and rate books confirm that by 1795 the house was number 21 Lever’s Row. In the late-C18 this was one of the best and most fashionable residential streets in the town. In 1795 the house was occupied by John Mitchell, a medical doctor, but in 1796 by John Cririe, a merchant. Elina Cririe lived here in 1806, but in 1808 the occupant was William Evans, in 1811 Michael Bentley, in 1820 John Powell and in 1822 John Gregory, an upholsterer and cabinet-maker.

Green’s map of 1794 (surveyed 1793) shows a long rear outshut to the house, but not extending as far as Back Piccadilly (then called Travis Street). A three-storey lightwell survives (extending above the eaves of the main house) which is within the footprint of the outshut on that plan. The brickwork and window openings in both the north and south walls of this lightwell appear to be contemporary with the house. The south side of the lightwell therefore appears to form part of a rear projection to the house (probably an original service tower), and the north side a remnant of a discrete outshut, probably a warehouse, dating from the late-C18.

After 1812, Lever’s Row became part of Piccadilly. The sequential numbering of Lever’s Row however was retained. From Tib Street to Port Street, the properties (all on the north side) remained numbers 1 to 29 (including even numbers). By 1834 the numbering was revised to its present arrangement, with odd numbers only on the north side of Piccadilly Gardens. This is when the house became number 47.

Roper’s map of 1829 shows no building fronting Back Piccadilly at the site. However, Bancks’ plan of 1832 shows one, possibly linked to the rear outshut of the house which is still depicted as it was on Green’s map. The Back Piccadilly building’s location and footprint, extending across the plot (except for a narrow ginnel accessing the yard behind the house), suggest that it was a warehouse.

In 1834 a newspaper advertised shops for sale at 47 and 49 Piccadilly, with ware rooms above at 47, dwelling room above 49, and warehouse and workshops to the rear. Number 47 was still occupied by John Gregory. By 1836 number 49 was occupied by Wood and Westhead (later JP and E Westhead, and then JP Westhead). The firm made and dealt in smallwares, later establishing their factories as separate textile businesses and specialising as merchants and warehousemen. Pigot and Slater’s 1841 directory lists number 47 as occupied by textile manufacturers Ralph and Lawrence Hall. However, the rate book for 1849 records that by then, Westhead’s owned and occupied numbers 47 and 49, and it appears likely they purchased the two premises in 1834, and initially rented 47 out. They probably ended the lease at number 47 in order to build the five-storey warehouse they erected at number 49 between 1846 and 1847.

A newspaper report of 1850 records a catastrophic fire at number 49, but notes that neighbouring buildings were unharmed, thanks to the swift response from the entire fire brigades of both Manchester and Salford. Slater’s 1851 directory lists Westhead’s at 47 and has no entry for 49, presumably reflecting the complete rebuilding of number 49 which was required after the fire.

A painting of 1876 (but presumably based on notes and sketches of 1851), of the 1851 visit to Manchester by Queen Victoria shows the rebuilt number 49. It also shows the upper façade of number 47 more or less as it appears today. This suggests that the first-floor window surrounds are either original, or were added in the early-C19 (perhaps when the house was converted to shops prior to the 1834 advertisement; a shopfront is also shown in the painting).

Unusually, the Ordnance Survey (OS) plans for this period are not reliable. The 1848 1:10,560 map (surveyed 1845) shows the rear outshut running parallel with Lever Street, which is not perpendicular to Piccadilly, whereas the true property boundaries are. The 1:1,056 town plan of 1851 also depicts property boundaries parallel with Lever Street. However, the detail indicates that the rear warehouse shown on Bancks’ plan remained in place but is depicted in the wrong location on these maps.

Prior to 1878 the address for the agents for the Midland Railway Company (the Midland) was given as 43 or 45 Piccadilly. That year’s Slater’s directory gives 47 Piccadilly as the address. Around that time, the buildings on the eastern corner of Piccadilly and Lever Street were replaced by Victoria Buildings, numbered 41 and 43, and including what had been number 45. This possibly displaced the Midland. Westhead’s also still occupied the building when the 1886 Goad fire insurance plan was produced, suggesting they probably used it throughout the interim, and accommodated the Midland. The 1886 Goad plan is the first reliable plan since 1851, and the first to show the current footprint at number 47, with a full-width warehouse to the rear linked to the house by a truncated outshut, and a lightwell to a basement skylight. The Midland occupied the full length of the ground floor, and probably the basement as well (as they were recorded as doing in 1883 as a ticket office and goods depot). Iron doors are marked on the top floor of the warehouse allowing access through from 47 to both Victoria Buildings and to Westhead’s warehouse at number 49, as well as from 49 to 51.

The building fabric suggests that the revised footprint shown on Goad’s plan resulted from a rebuilding rather than adaptation of the earlier structure facing Back Piccadilly. The warehouse’s cross-beams rest on iron shoes fixed into the side wall of number 49, which was rebuilt after the 1850 fire. The north wall also has no evidence for widening, suggesting that is was built in a single phase after 1851, when Adshead’s plan showed a ginnel still in place to the west of number 49. The small off-street loading area fronting Back Piccadilly reflects local by-laws of the later C19, but it is also found at number 49, which was rebuilt by 1851. The warehouse’s sash windows to Back Piccadilly could have been reused from the earlier building, but they have two panes per sash and thin-section frames without horns, suggesting a date in the early or mid C19. Their segmental-arched heads, mostly formed of standard bricks, contrast with the flat-arched, rubbed-brick lintels of number 49, but this is probably more a reflection of lower status than of date. It seems most likely that the rebuild took place around 1851, and might be associated with the post-fire building works.

A revised Goad plan of 1901 does not mark Westhead’s in occupation at number 47 or at number 49; only the Midland are noted at 47. Also, no interconnecting doors are marked on this plan between 47 and its neighbours to either side. This suggests that by that date Westhead’s had sold the property to the Midland. In 1909 the Midland Railway altered the ground floor from a central entrance to give separate entrances either side, one to the upper floors and one to their own depot. They also inserted strengthening beams to the frontage. By this time part of the back wall of house had been taken out at ground floor to access the former yard between the house and the warehouse (in 2020, covered with a felt roof). The 1917 Goad revision shows the same situation as in 1901, with only the Midland noted as occupants. The 1960 revision (after the nationalisation of the railways) shows the Railway Executive ticket and parcels depot in the basement and ground floor, with various uses over. By this date part of the party wall between the warehouse and Victoria Buildings had been downgraded as a fire stop, and a top-floor doorway between the two reinstated, presumably to allow access for one of the warehouse tenants. The 1970 revision shows that the railway had vacated the warehouse, occupying only the front ground-floor shop, with vacant units above that. Only the basement and ground floor of the warehouse were occupied, by a hairdresser and betting office respectively.

In the later C20 the former yard and the ground floor of the house were used as a shop while parts of the house and warehouse were used for retail, including a stationer and beauty salons. The adjacent Victoria Buildings was demolished in 2007 and supportive scaffolding erected, with metal ties through the west and south walls of number 47.

Reasons for Listing

Number 47 Piccadilly, a town house with attached rear warehouse, probably 1776 and mid-C19 respectively, the warehouse incorporating C18 fabric, with alterations, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* providing a glimpse of what was once one of the best and most fashionable residential streets in the town, as the only surviving example of the original scale of building in this street and retaining decorative features of the C18 and early-C19;

* retaining elements of its original plan-form and much structural fabric, some decorative internal features, an early rear service tower opening into a lightwell, and partial early skylight arrangements;

* enhanced by the mid-C19 warehouse to the rear, which reflects the early history of the building and retains (in its south façade), the three-storey lightwell-frontage of an earlier outshut (retaining a sash window), probably a warehouse of the C18, as well as timber sash windows in the north wall and a goods hoist.

Group value:

* with the much larger adjacent Grade II-listed buildings at 49 Piccadilly, Gardens Hotel and shops, Clayton House and St Margaret’s Chambers, and the contemporary houses at 8, 10, 12 and 14 Lever Street.

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