The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Manchester Reform Synagogue © Historic England Archive
Manchester Reform Synagogue interior © Historic England Archive
Ark at the Manchester Reform Synagogue © Historic England Archive
Stained glass at the Manchester Reform Synagogue © Jack Hale

C20 Society steps into planning row with two Manchester United footballers

The Twentieth Century Society has added its weight to a campaign to stop two Manchester United football players demolishing an historic block in the centre of Manchester to make way for two skyscrapers, a luxury hotel and public plaza. There is a final opportunity to comment on the proposals on Wednesday 19 October at Manchester Central Library 11.30 – 7.30pm, and a petition opposing the siting of the development so close to Manchester’s historic centre.

C20 Society Adviser Tess Pinto described the plans, which have been designed by Make Architects in partnership with footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs as “shocking.”  “The plans will not only sweep away two fine C20 century buildings, but will also have a devastating impact on the neighbouring conservation area. They show no consideration to Manchester’s special sense of place that one would expect from two football stars who made their careers and built their lives in the city.’

The Society has submitted an urgent application to Historic England to have one of the historic buildings, the Manchester Reform Synagogue (1953), listed.

As well as the demolition of the Synagogue, the proposed scheme on Jackson’s Row will also see the demolition of another fine C20 building, the Bootle Street Police Station (1937), and a Victorian pub.

The site is located in the heart of the city and directly borders a conservation area which contains numerous listed buildings of national importance. These include the Public Library and the Town Hall Extension, two Grade II* 1930s buildings by E. Vincent Harris, and the Grade I listed neo-gothic Town Hall of 1877.

The Synagogue was designed by the architects Levy and Cummings, who were also members of the congregation, following the bombing of their former place of worship. The building is of particular historic interest as the first new post-war building to be constructed in the city after the Second World War, funded by war reparations. Because of the available budget, the quality of construction and materials are notably high given the early date. The Synagogue is very intact internally, and notable for containing what C20 Society understands to be some of the earliest examples of figurative stained glass in a Jewish place of worship, as prior to the 1950s the portrayal of people in Synagogue artwork was widely considered taboo.

Tess Pinto added: “There is a real paucity of non-Christian places of worship currently protected by listing in the country. In a context where there are ever declining examples of the twentieth century architectural heritage of British Jewry, we believe the Manchester Reform Synagogue would make a worthy addition to the national list.”

If you agree, please sign the petition: