Agostino Aglio in Manchester

During 1831-1834

Lithographs of Manchester 

Aglio obtained the contract to decorate the interior of the original Town Hall that had been built on the corner of King Street and Cross Street in 1825.  Details below.  

Unfortunately there are no records of the work available and the building was demolished in 1912 after a new Town Hall, designed by Alfred Waterhouse was built in 1887 on a new site.

While he was in Manchester he was dealing with the aftermath of problems with a court case involving Lord Kingsborough and Sir Thomas Phillipps. The outcome of all this was bankruptcy. This case was related to Agostino's work on the Mexican Antiquities.

There are archived many letters sent from Lord Kingsborough to Aglio at Manchester Town Hall.

While in Manchester, it seems that Aglio produced a number of drawings and prints. These include 6 sketch portraits which are shown amongst others in the Gallery of Works.

Details of the Old Manchester Town Hall

Article about The first Town Hall
taken fron History About Manchester

The land once occupied by Dr White’s house was acquired in 1820 and work began on Manchester’s first Town Hall two years later. Designed by the London Architect Francis Goodwin, the laying of the foundation stone, just three years after Peterloo was surrounded by controversy, a grand procession led by the Boroughreeve and his constables, whose naked sword blades raised the consternation of many of the onlookers.
The building cost £40,000, its design based on the temple of Erectheus in Athens and its dome modelled on the octagonal tower of Andronicus. Over the entrance which was guarded by two figures in the form of Salom and Alfred the Great, were figures representing commerce and trade, while the facade above the columns consisted of medallions representing Pythagoras and Locke, and Lycurgus and Hale, meant to represent the combining of ancient and modern philosophy and law.

The ground floor was used by the police, including part used for the residence of the deputy constable, while the council chambers were on the first floor. In 1830 a Mr Aglio added frescoes to the internal decoration of the hall. One in celebration of the defeat of Napoleon, others representing Manchester’s connection to Trade. Lord MacCartney meeting the Emperor of China, Sebastian Cabot landed on the coast of America and the King of Persia receiving a deputation from England.

There was also a depiction of the expedition of Jason and the Argonauts, said to have taken place in 1263 BC. With Manchester incorporation in 1838, a staircase and entrance hall was added but even by this time with the town growing, the Town Hall was becoming unfit for purpose.

The last meeting of the City Council before they moved into their new accommodation at Albert Square, was in January 1877, but in its brief history as a Town Hall, the King Street site had seen many momentous events, a visit from Queen Victoria, forty thousand people filing past the coffin of John Dalton and many meetings involving the anti Corn Law League.

The site was used for Manchester Reference Library as a temporary measure due to the state of disrepair of the Library’s original location in Campfields but it was finally demolished in the early twentieth century, though its colonnade, after a campaign by the Manchester architect Edgar Wood remains to this day in Heaton Park.

See also Manchester History 

 Article from a booklet about the New Town Hall in Albert Square

The splendid building in Albert Square is not Manchester's original Town Hall. In 1814, the Police Commissioners of Manchester purchased property at the comer of King Street and Cross Street with the intention of establishing the town's administrative offices there.

This project took a full ten years to get off the ground. For one thing, the period following the Napoleonic War was an unsettled one. For another, the existing building was used during 1819 by the military authority who remained in Manchester after the Peterloo Massacre. They felt it in a bad state of repair. The Commissioners decided to recondition the property and move in without delay. But this proved impracticable and they agreed to build an entirely new Town Hall - relying on their gasworks undertaking to produce sufficient profits to finance the project. The main structure was erected in 1825 at a cost of £40,000, a great deal more than estimated, but was not completed until after it had been transferred by the Commissioners to the Borough Council in 1843. In 1825, the population of Manchester was around 120,000. This increased rapidly as did the responsibilities and enterprises of the local Authority. The Town Hall in King Street proved to be an inconvenient and inadequate public building. As the operations of the authority extended, it had to hire rooms in other buildings. In 1863 a sub-committee was appointed to consider the erection of a bigger Town Hall.

The old Town Hall in King Street served as the Central Reference Library until 1912 when it was sold and demolished to make way for commercial development.

The façade was taken to Heaton Park and erected where it now stands close to the lake.

Taken from a booklet about the New Town Hall