County Court, Manchester

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County Court
Former County Court, Quay Street, Manchester 3.JPG
County Court, Manchester
General information
Status Grade II listed
Architectural style Georgian
Location Quay Street, Manchester, England.
Coordinates 53°28′43″N2°15′08″W / 53.4786°N 2.2521°W / 53.4786; -2.2521 Coordinates: 53°28′43″N2°15′08″W / 53.4786°N 2.2521°W / 53.4786; -2.2521
Completed1770s (1770s)

The County Court in Quay Street, Manchester, England, is a Georgian townhouse that functioned as the Manchester County Court from 1878 to 1990. It was the home of the politician and reformer Richard Cobden and subsequently the site of Owen's College, the forerunner of the University of Manchester. In origin it is a townhouse of the 1770s, "the best preserved Georgian house in the [city] centre". [1] The house is of "brick with a late nineteenth century doorcase". [1] It was designated a Grade II* listed building on 3 October 1974. [2] The interior is not original.

Quay Street

Quay Street is a street in the city centre of Manchester, England. The street, designated the A34, continues Peter Street westwards towards the River Irwell and Salford. It is the northern boundary of Spinningfields, the city's business district and Castlefield, the historical area of the city lies to the south. Quay Street was created in the 18th century for access to a quay on the river and is lined by several listed buildings.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. The city itself is the sixth-largest in the United Kingdom with a population of 545,500 as of 2017, but it lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 2.55 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Georgian architecture set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840

Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.


Richard Cobden lived at the house from 1836 to 1850, and it was his base during the years he acted as the main spokesman for the Anti-Corn Law League. A statue of him, together with one of his fellow reformers John Bright, stands in Albert Square. The house subsequently became the site of Owens College, which, together with the Manchester Royal School of Medicine, became the University of Manchester in 1872. [1] When the university moved to its present site on Oxford Road in 1873, the building was bought for use as Manchester's County Court, which opened in 1878. [1] By the 1970s the building had become badly decayed, and first the courts and then the administrative offices were relocated. The court was closed in 1990. It was subsequently purchased for use as a set of barristers' chambers and has been comprehensively refurbished, with much of its original Georgian decor restored. [3]

Anti-Corn Law League former political movement in Great Britain

The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners’ interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages. The League was a middle-class nationwide organisation that held many well-attended rallies on the premise that a crusade was needed to convince parliament to repeal the corn laws. Its long-term goals included the removal of feudal privileges, which it denounced as impeding progress, lowering economic well-being, and restricting freedom. The League played little role in the final act in 1846 when Sir Robert Peel led the successful battle for repeal. However, its experience provided a model that was widely adopted in Britain and other democratic nations to demonstrate the organisation of a political pressure group with the popular base.

John Bright British Radical and Liberal statesman

John Bright was a British Radical and Liberal statesman, one of the greatest orators of his generation and a promoter of free trade policies.

The Manchester Royal School of Medicine has its origins in a medical teaching establishment opened on Pine Street, Manchester, England, by Thomas Turner. Established in 1824, the school added the word Royal in 1836 and in 1872 it was taken over by Owens College, which later became a part of the University of Manchester.


Plaque commemorating Richard Cobden and Owens College Cobden plaque, Former County Court, Quay Street, Manchester.JPG
Plaque commemorating Richard Cobden and Owens College

The house of three storeys and a basement is a Georgian townhouse built in the mid-18th century and subsequently extended to the rear and altered. It is constructed on a rectangular plan in red brick in Flemish bond on a stucco plinth. Its facade has five bays with the centre bay set slightly forward. The central doorway has a late 19th-century pilastered doorcase with a frieze and cornice which replaced the original raised pedimented doorway and double flight of steps. Its windows have raised sills and flat heads, with 12-pane sashes at ground and first floor levels and 9-pane sashes on the second floor while the basement has segmental-headed windows. [2]

Stucco material made of aggregates, a binder, and water

Stucco or render is a material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture. Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials, such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe.

Facade Exterior side of a building, usually the front but not always

A facade is generally one exterior side of a building, usually the front. It is a foreign loan word from the French façade, which means "frontage" or "face".

Pilaster decorative architectural element giving the appearance of a supporting column

The pilaster is an architectural element in classical architecture used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function. It consists of a flat surface raised from the main wall surface, usually treated as though it were a column, with a capital at the top, plinth (base) at the bottom, and the various other elements. In contrast to a pilaster, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Hartwell 2001, p. 253
  2. 1 2 "County Court, Manchester". Listed Buildings Online. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  3. "Cobden House History". Cobden House Chambers. Retrieved 17 April 2012.


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