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Town Hall Manchester Photo: Aidan O'Rourke

As extravagant as the buildings above but with a completely different, more formal, ethos is Manchester Town Hall.

Built in 1877 this intended to symbolise Manchester as the great cotton powerhouse controlling over eighty percent of the global cotton trade. Gothic in design, the town hall was seen, by architect Albert Waterhouse, as a unified work of art combining architecture with sculpture, ceramics, mosaics and painting.

Every visitor should take a look inside the building, it is very accessible, and the epitome of High Victorian taste and craftsmanship. If you are from overseas you will enjoy trying to spot your national court of arms adorning the richly carved ceiling in the Great Hall whilst below and around you can get a Victorian idea of the history of the city from the murals of Pre-Raphaelite artist, Ford Madox Brown.

Try and find the mosaic worker bees on the first floor, representing the industrious nature of Manchester, and then buy some cans of Boddingtons beer and try and find them again. The flowers carved and depicted everywhere are cotton flowers.

If possible go on one of the regular guided walks around the building. These take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Statue Town Hall Thomas De La Warre Photo: Aidan O'Rourke

It is easy to miss some of the exquisite detailing on the great mass of the external structure of the Town Hall.

Take the Princess Street/Albert Square corner for instance. Here is a row of six stern figures illustrating the city's past.

Two, in particular, are very charming. One is Thomas de la Warr, holding in his hands a model of the church he is about to enlarge into a Collegiate Church, now Manchester's Cathedral, and the other is Humphrey Chetham, gripping a part of his library and charity school.

Incidentally, a relation of Thomas de la Warr is said to have founded the USA state of Delaware.

Before we leave Albert Square glance at the top of the Town Hall spire. The distant gold bauble crowning the building is the sun for, it was said, that wherever the heavenly body shined Manchester had trade. With its gilt base it is almost two metres high to the tip of its topmost beam and proves that the sun always shines in Manchester.

Sun, Manchester Town Hall Photo: Aidan O'Rourke

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