From cobbled street to useable loading bay

29 10 2013

From cobbled street to useable loading bay

It may not look much as yet, but this snapshot I took today is an exciting development. The photograph shows the view looking into our new loading bay from the outside. Above it there will be another first floor level doorway that will enable huge works to be hoisted into the building, while beneath you can see the spaces for ventilation ducting that will expel used air out of the building through grilles.

At the end of the 19th century, Grove House stood in the north east corner of Whitworth Park on the site of the Whitworth Art Gallery – at the back of the house was a cobbled service road that would have been used for deliveries. As the building developed and was extended into the gallery as we know it, the original Grove House was demolished and the service road incorporated into the basement level. The photograph below (looking out from inside the building) shows the cobbled street, known generally to staff as the ‘Cartway’, and the cast iron columns that support the exhibition galleries above.

Unfortunately, the changes in levels, the uneven floor, and later, ceiling level ductwork made the side entrance virtually unworkable for deliveries, especially those involving artworks that required a smooth, vibration-free level surface, and good height (the empty crate in the photo would have been about as far into the building as it could go!). Happily for us, our architects, MUMA, recognised the impracticalities of having to bring artworks in through our main entrance alongside visitors, and by creating a smooth, level loading bay – with full height doors and adjacent corridors, and easy access to our stores, workshops and conservation studios, and importantly to a new goods lift to galleries on all floors – are bringing us into the 21st century.


And if you are worrying about what happened to the beautiful 19th century cobbles – they have been carefully saved and will be used in the landscaping around the building designed by Sarah Price.

I’ve been away for just over a week, and although I haven’t yet been back fully on site, other exciting developments include glazing going into our cafe and storage units being installed in our new Collections Zone – more on this to follow, so watch this space.




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