My picture shows an engraving of the Manchester and Liverpool District Bank building in Hanley, Staffordshire. To the right of the caption you can clearly make out ‘Thomas W Atkinson, Architect, Upper Stamford Street‘. And just beneath the engraving on the bottom left you can also read the name T W Atkinson. So Thomas Atkinson both designed the building and drew the picture upon which this engraving is based. The building itself, which was located on the corner of Town Road and Huntbach Street, was completed in 1833 and this engraving appears to have been a gift from three of the directors to their colleagues and shareholders at the bank.
Thomas’ picture is interesting for several reasons. We know that a year after he completed the Hanley building, Thomas also designed the bank’s headquarters on the corner of Spring Gardens and Marble Street in central Manchester (for more on the Manchester headquarters building, see my posting of 11 October). This was a huge undertaking and was very favourably received by architectural critics, who compared it to the iconic Travellers Club in Pall Mall, London. So it is likely the bank’s directors, having been impressed by the Hanley bank building, decided to give Thomas the contract to design the headquarters building. In the end, ironically, it was this second contract that brought him financial ruin and bankruptcy.
The second point of interest is the construction of Thomas’ picture. Unusually for him, the foreground is occupied by a group of people, mostly market traders and their customers. Presumably the bank’s directors were keen to show commerce taking place in front of their rather magnificent building. Women with baskets and bonnets and men in smocks and hats carry on their business in front of the impressive gothic bank building.
The building was modified in the 1890s, as can been seen in the picture above. Today, alas, it has disappeared completely, a victim of 1970s town centre redevelopment. The site is now occupied by a ghastly redbrick Natwest bank building.