The town halls, libraries, concert halls and galleries of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and Todmorden tell an unlikely story of rivalry, ambition and power, in the service of social responsibility.
The North's public building boom was first funded by the profits of sugar, tobacco, cotton and slavery. In these chaotically expanding urban environments, amidst squalid and unruly conditions, the city fathers dared to dream of something finer… Something akin to the cultured civilisations of antiquity. And so they ploughed their considerable resources into Neo-Classical architecture: buildings that evoked Rome, Athens and the Greek city-states. The regular proportion, geometry and symmetry of temple-style buildings suggested order, and would elevate the towns in which they stood.
Architectural historian Dr Jonathan Foyle explores some of the best Georgian and Victorian civic buildings in the north of England, featuring contributions from historians Lawrence Westgaph, Joseph Sharples, Steve Binns, and Colin Cunningham.
The Bluecoat School
Liverpool Town Hall (John Woods)
The Liverpool Athenaeum
Liverpool Lyceum (Thomas Harrison)
Liverpool Oratory (John Foster Jnr)
St George's Hall (Harvey Elmes)
The Walker Art Gallery (Cornelius Sherlock & H. H. Vale)
The Picton Reading Rooms (Cornelius Sherlock)
The Portico Library (Thomas Harrison)
The Royal Manchester Institution (Charles Barry)
The Manchester Athenaeum (Charles Barry)
St George's Hall (Lockwood and Mawson)
Leeds Town Hall (Cuthbert Brodrick)
Todmorden Town Hall (John Gibson)
The first in a two-part series, this programme was followed by an exploration of the Gothic Revival.