The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Department stores

House of Fraser – Manchester

Nominated by: C20
Region: North West
Former names: Kendal Milne
Dates from: 1939
Built for: Kendal Milne, purchased by Harrods Stores Ltd in 1919. 1959, Harrods Stores Ltd. bought by the House of Fraser
Architect: J.S.Beaumont
Listed: Grade II

Kendal Milne is a Grade II listed department store built in 1939 to designs by J.S. Beaumont. Kendal Milne was founded by one John Watts in 1796 in the Deansgate area of Manchester, beginning life as a small drapery and expanding over time. In 1919, it was purchased by Harrods Stores Ltd, and in 1959 Harrods was acquired by the House of Fraser. Kendal Milne is described in Pevsner as a “sublimely monumental block […] in the German style of store architecture created by [Alfred] Messel early in the century, but stripped down.” Constructed of a steel frame, the 6 storey Kendal Milne building has striking elevations composed of vertical bands of glass blocks, divided by stylised Portland stone pilasters and slender mullions. Pevsner singles out the windows and describes the “greenish glass blocks, with a barely perceptible camber, introducing subtle curves and enlivening the stark elevations with reflecting light”.

Manchester City Council has approved an application for change of use to provide offices and commercial space, involving the erection of a 3 storey rooftop extension, and elevational alterations and works. The C20 Society is pleased the building will be repurposed but opposes the planned removal of the majority of the original glass blocks and their replacement with curved Okolux glazing. We are also concerned about the substantial copper verdigris and steel colour glass extension which will be added to the building’s roof. (last update: August 2021)

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