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© Mr Peter Sargeant

IoE Number: 454854
Location: FORMER REFUGE ASSURANCE OFFICES, WHITWORTH STREET (south side)
  MANCHESTER, MANCHESTER, GREATER MANCHESTER
Photographer: Mr Peter Sargeant
Date Photographed: 15 May 2003
Date listed: 03 October 1974
Date of last amendment: 06 June 1994
Grade II*

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MANCHESTER SJ8497NW OXFORD STREET 698-1/32/268 (East side) 03/10/74 Former Refuge Assurance Company Offices (Formerly Listed as: OXFORD STREET Refuge Assurance Company Offices) GV II* Insurance company offices. 1891 by Alfred Waterhouse, extended 1910 and 1912 by his son Paul Waterhouse, and further extended in 1930s. Steel frame, clad in red brick with liberal dressings of deep brown and buff terracotta, and grey Dalbeattie granite to base of tower. Irregular plan formed by original square block on corner of Whitworth Street, block to south of this added 1910 (triangular at rear), tower between and linking these added 1912, and rectangular block added to east end of original Whitworth Street range in 1930s. Very large and ornate eclectic design with French Renaissance accent and some Baroque features. Four storeys with basements and attics, the first block with a large corner element and then 6-bay facades to both streets, next the tower flanked by deep 1-bay re-entrants, with 3-bay porch in front, and a 6-bay range beyond this; with brick piers, enriched bands between floors, undulating parapets, tiered shaped gables to the end bays and a tiered octagonal turret with domed roof between those at the Whitworth Street corner, and a very tall square clock-tower, pilastered and banded, with a prominent cornice and Baroque cupola. Large closely-spaced cross-windows to the first 3 floors, coupled 2-light mullioned windows to the top floor, all with elaborate terracotta surrounds including twisted columns, pierced aprons (etc) and those at 2nd floor with decorated segmental pediments. The corner element has a round-headed doorway with richly-ornamented terracotta surround carried up to 1st floor and finished with a toy-sized fort; various small rectangular windows in the right-hand side, and a mullioned and transomed window in the left side tiered through 4 floors. Main entrance at base of tower in single-storey 3-bay porch of white granite in Baroque style, with round-headed central arch in projected surround of engaged Tuscan semi-columns, broken segmental pediment (etc), flanked by square-headed openings with Ionic columns, and swagged bulls-eye windows and balustraded parapets above. Interior: inside porch, enclosed forecourt surrounded by massive arcades and colonnades in buff glazed terracotta, with doorways, niches (etc) in Baroque style; other parts believed to be of similar quality, but not inspected. Very conspicuous landmark, and probably the apogee of "Manchester style" late C19 commercial architecture.

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