This impressive Victorian building is home to precious works of art as well as the offices and halls of the City Council.
The historic Manchester Town Hall is the home of the City Council and continues to be an important part of the city's life. The building contains mainly offices and ceremonial rooms, such as the Great Hall. The remarkable exterior is dominated by the 285-foot (87-meter) bell tower, which houses Great Abel, Manchester’s answer to London’s Big Ben.
The hall is an impressive neo-Gothic Victorian structure completed in 1877. It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, one of the most successful architects of his time. He also drew up the plans for the Manchester Museum.
Take a look inside the building to discover the artistic and historical treasures within the Great Hall and Sculpture Room. Venture upstairs for a good view of the vaulted ceilings. Join one of the regular free guided tours to learn more about the Town Hall’s many treasures.
The entrance and the Sculpture Hall contain busts and statues of influential local figures, including physicist James Prescott Joule and chemist John Dalton. In the Great Hall, you’ll discover the Ford Maddox Brown murals, a series of 12 paintings said to be based on the ideals of Victorian Manchester. These murals depict the history of science, education, trade and the textile industry, as well as the Roman foundations of the city.
Look up and you’ll see the glazed skylight inscribed with the names of every lord mayor and chair of the council since 1838. Don’t miss the mosaic on the floor outside the Great Hall, featuring a pattern of bees. The bee is symbolic of labor and industry and features on Manchester’s coat of arms.
Visit the Manchester Town Hall on a weekday if you’d like to see the Sculpture Hall. The café is also only open on weekdays. Located in the heart of the city and overlooking Albert Square, the hall is accessible by taxi, bus or tram. The nearest Metrolink tram stop is at St. Peter’s Square. If you drive, there is user-pay parking at a nearby National Car Parks (NCP) garages.