The Towers (Manchester)

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The Towers
The decision to build the Manchester Ship Canal was made here.
General information
Architectural style Gothic
Town or city Manchester
Country United Kingdom
Coordinates 53°24′29″N2°13′34″W / 53.4081°N 2.2261°W / 53.4081; -2.2261 Coordinates: 53°24′29″N2°13′34″W / 53.4081°N 2.2261°W / 53.4081; -2.2261
Construction started1868
Design and construction
Architect Thomas Worthington

The Towers (later known as the Shirley Institute, and then the BTTG) [1] is a research establishment for new technologies in cotton production. The Shirley Institute was established in 1920 at a cost of £10,000 to accommodate the newly formed British Cotton Industry Research Association. [2] It is a Grade II* listed building in the suburb of Didsbury, located 6 miles (10 km) south of Manchester, England. [1]

Listed building Protected historic structure in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

Didsbury area of the City of Manchester, England

Didsbury is a suburban area of Manchester, England, on the north bank of the River Mersey, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of Manchester city centre. The population at the 2011 census was 26,788.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. With a population of 545,500 (2017) it is the sixth largest city in the United Kingdom. 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.



The building was constructed in the period 186872, for an estimated cost of £50,000. [1] The house was designed by Thomas Worthington, for the editor and proprietor of the Manchester Guardian , John Edward Taylor. The building was described by Pevsner as "grossly picturesque in red brick and red terra cotta." [3]

Thomas Worthington (architect) English architect

Thomas Worthington was a 19th-century English architect, particularly associated with public buildings in and around Manchester. Worthington's preferred style was the Gothic Revival.

John Edward Taylor was an English business tycoon, editor and publisher, who was the founder of the Manchester Guardian newspaper in 1821, which was renamed in 1959 The Guardian.

Nikolaus Pevsner German-born British scholar

Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner was a German-British art historian and architectural historian best known for his monumental 46-volume series of county-by-county guides, The Buildings of England (1951–74).

Manchester Ship Canal

Blue plaque on the Lodge of the Towers commemorating the conception of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1882 Lodge of the Towers Blue Plaque, Didsbury.JPG
Blue plaque on the Lodge of the Towers commemorating the conception of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1882

The Towers was once the home of the notable engineer Daniel Adamson whose idea for the canalisation of the Rivers Irwell and Mersey resulted in the creation of the Manchester Ship Canal project which made the rivers into Manchester navigable for sea-going ships. He invited representatives of several Lancashire towns, local businessmen and politicians, and two civil engineers, Hamilton Fulton and Edward Leader Williams. Fulton proposed a tidal canal, with no locks and a deepened channel into Manchester; Williams was in favour of a series of locks. Both engineers were invited to submit proposals, and Williams' plans were selected to form the basis of a bill submitted to Parliament in November 1882. [4] Because of intense opposition by Liverpool and the railway companies, the necessary enabling Act of Parliament was not passed until 6 August 1885. Certain conditions were attached: £5 million had to be raised, and the ship canal company had to buy both the Bridgewater Canal and the Mersey & Irwell Navigation within two years. [5]

Daniel Adamson engineer

Daniel Adamson was an English engineer who became a successful manufacturer of boilers and was the driving force behind the inception of the Manchester Ship Canal project during the 1880s.

River Irwell river in Lancashire, United Kingdom

The River Irwell is a 39-mile (63 km) long river which flows through the Irwell Valley in North West England. Its source is at Irwell Springs on Deerplay Moor, approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Bacup. It forms the boundary between Manchester and Salford and empties into the River Mersey near Irlam.

River Mersey Major river emptying into Liverpool Bay

The River Mersey is a river in the North West of England. Its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon language and translates as "boundary river". The river may have been the border between the ancient kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria and for centuries it formed part of the boundary between the historic counties of Lancashire and Cheshire.

Shirley Institute

In 1920 it became the base of the Shirley Institute of the British Cotton Industry Research Association as a research centre dedicated to cotton production technologies. [6] A significant contribution to the purchase price of £10,000 was made by William Greenwood, the MP for Stockport, who asked that the building be named after his daughter, Shirley. [3]

Shirley Institute UK research centre dedicated to cotton production technologies

The Shirley Institute was established in 1920 as the British Cotton Industry Research Association at The Towers in Didsbury, Manchester, as a research centre dedicated to cotton production technologies. It was funded by the Cotton Board through a statutory levy. A significant contribution to the purchase price of The Towers was made by William Greenwood, the MP for Stockport, who asked that the building be named after his daughter. The Institute developed Ventile, a special high-quality woven cotton fabric. It also developed the tog as an easy-to-follow measure of the thermal resistance of textiles, as an alternative to the SI unit of m2K/W.

Stockport town in Greater Manchester, England

Stockport is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Manchester city centre, where the River Goyt and Tame merge to create the River Mersey, and the largest in the metropolitan borough of the same name.

Business Park

The entrance to the Towers business park The Towers Didsbury entrance11 25 09 681000.jpeg
The entrance to the Towers business park

In the early 21st century, the estate land of the Shirley Institute was redeveloped and a new business park was constructed. [7]

Business park area of land in which many office buildings are grouped together

A business park or office park is an area of land in which many office buildings are grouped together. All of the work that goes on is commercial, not large-scale industrial nor residential. The first office park opened in Mountain Brook, Alabama, in the early 1950s to avoid racial tension in city centers.

See also

Grade II* listed buildings in Greater Manchester Wikimedia list article

There are 236 Grade II* listed buildings in Greater Manchester, England. In the United Kingdom, the term listed building refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance; Grade II* structures are those considered to be "particularly significant buildings of more than local interest". In England, the authority for listing under the Planning Act 1990 rests with English Heritage, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Manchester is a city in Northwest England. The M20 postcode area of the city includes the suburbs of Didsbury and Withington. This postcode area contains 65 listed buildings that are recorded in the National Heritage List for England. Of these, four are listed at Grade II*, the middle of the three grades, and the others are at Grade II, the lowest grade. The area is mainly residential, and most of the listed buildings are houses and associated structures. The other listed buildings include churches and structures in churchyards, hotels and public houses, civic buildings, buildings in the Didsbury Campus of Manchester Metropolitan University, a former hospital and its lodges, banks, a clock tower, a milestone, and a war memorial.


  1. 1 2 3 "Guide to the Towers". Research. 1998. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  2. "Technologies of work". University of Manchester. Spring 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  3. 1 2 "Manchester Educational & Academic Buildings". Unknown. 2005-01-10. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  4. Owen (1983), p. 31.
  5. Owen (1983), p. 37.
  6. "Technologies of work". Manchester University, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Archived from the original on 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  7. "The Towers". Didsbury Civic Society. Retrieved 19 July 2019.


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