Salford Museum and Art Gallery

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Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Salford Museum and Art Gallery, in Peel Park, Salford, Greater Manchester, first opened to the public in November 1850 as the "Royal Museum & Public Library". One of the most important appreciation is that it serves as the first public library in the UK to provide free access to people predominantly from the working class since mid eighteen century. The gallery and museum are devoted to the history of Salford and Victorian art and architecture.

Formation of Salford Museum and Art Gallery

Through the use of public subscriptions along with Queens Park and Phillips Park in Manchester the original site Lark Hill estate and mansion was purchased for its purpose to become the first Royal Museum and Public Library to open to the public in November 1850. The story begins by Edward Langworthy, former Mayor of Salford and early supporter of the museum, who died in 1874 leaving a £10,000 bequest to the museum. This bequest was used to build the west wing, named Langworthy Wing. This wing connected the north and south wings. The Langworthy wing was constructed over three storey and “was built of brick with stone dressing with a glass and Welch-slate roof, with a pediment gable.” In the present time it serves as the public entrance. Throughout the years the popularity of the museum significantly increased and it was in 1936 that the original site Lark Hill Mansion was found to be unsound and due to structural instability was demolished. Two years was required for the new wing, which was designed in the same fashion as the Langworthy Wing to be completed and opened in 1938. The decision to “echo the Langworthy Wing in the 1930s is remarkable in the architectural climate of the time and it is tempting to argue that Walker’s addition is the first Victorian revival building in the country. “ The building development was a gradual evolution which was commenced by different architects evolving their ideas at different times. Throughout its development the building has achieved “a degree of architectural consistency as a result of nearly a century of evolution.” Since it was open more than 160,000 visitors was attracted to the museum in its first year to explore casts of antique statues, collection of paintings, Egyptian and Oriental antiques and other significant objects and exhibitions.The number of visitors steadily, largely, and year by year, increased. In five years time the visitors has rapidly reached an averaging visitors count of 1.6 million.

Architectural Significance
Artistic values

The Salford Museum and Art Gallery fascinates with masonry pillars and detailed masonry elements both outside and within the interior. What is most important is how the aesthetic design of the building evolved over a 200 years life cycle and produced a unified structure nowadays. Important architectural examples are the top-lit galleries in the north and south wings, which are one of the earliest examples of their type. The galleries were built in a Renaissance manner and the architects; Travis & Mangnall “were key local exponents of a gracious Italianate style which had already from the 1840s become a characteristic of commercial architecture, especially in Manchester.”

Landscape values

The building is located in the ’heart’ of the University of Salford surrounded by civic and educational buildings. It plays a significant role for its relationship with the Peel building to the west and the Peel Park to the north. The building is accepted as the earliest civic building that has influenced the location of other civic buildings in the Crescent area.

Educational value

The conservation of Lark Hill Place, which was done at a time before conservation of historic buildings was popular, represents an important attempt to preserve architectural features at a period of rapid urban development.


The art gallery used to house the work of L. S. Lowry, but his paintings are now in the Lowry Centre in Salford Quays.

Statutory Protections

Although of great architectural and historical significance the building is listed Grade II meaning that it’s not sufficiently important to join the elite.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via