Manchester's historic Portico Library awarded huge grant to transform Grade II-listed building

By Natalie Rees | 29 November 2023

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Courtesy The Portico Library Facebook

Manchester’s historic Portico Library has been awarded nearly half a million pounds to help transform the 218 year-old building.

A much-loved treasure in the heart of the city centre, its future has now been secured thanks to receiving the show of support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The £453,964 development grant will enable the centuries-old Portico to bring to life plans to create an accessible and sustainable space for arts, literature, learning and history for Manchester’s residents and visitors.

The team will now work with experts and a range of community stakeholders to transform the Grade II-listed building and preserve the library’s incredible book collection, which includes the first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

With particular focus on environmentally sustainable architectural plans, they hope to reunite all three original floors of the Library for the first time in more than 100 years.

Founded in 1806, the Portico was established as a ground-breaking newsroom and library, aiming to further knowledge by making books, periodicals and newspapers available to more people in Manchester.

It subsequently played a historic role in the information revolution that swept across Europe during the 19th Century.

Fast forward to the 2023, and the Portico will revitalise itself as a creative space that explores its complex history with Manchester’s cotton trade, whilst learning from shared knowledge and lived experience.

The Portico Library in 1900

John Carpenter, Chair of The Portico Library, said: “The news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting the Portico Library’s bold scheme to open up and share its extraordinary heritage and collection, to Manchester residents and visitors, is a major cultural signal to Manchester, the North and the UK.”

He added: “This visionary project, years in the making, fulfils our mission of working with the many people in Manchester to explore, share and celebrate their diverse stories and the city’s literary and global heritage.

“Embracing creativity, collaboration and inclusivity, the project will unlock the Library’s past to plan for the future. We would like to thank the National Lottery players who have made it possible to realise our vision.”

The library, on Mosley Street, is open six days a week, and as well as boasting a huge collection of literature also runs regular exhibitions, workshops and talks.

It also has an excellent cafe, serving a changing menu of lunches and light teas. You can find out more here…