The Hulme Crescents, Manchester: bringing ‘a touch of eighteenth century grace and dignity’ to municipal building

6 Mar

Hulme Crescents – modern masterpiece or doomed concrete folly.

Municipal Dreams

In 1978 the chair of Manchester City Council’s Housing Committee described the Hulme Crescents development as an ‘absolute disaster – it shouldn’t have been planned, it shouldn’t have been built’. (1)   By that time, the estate was already a byword for the failure – worse, the inhumanity – of sixties’ mass public housing. That reputation has lingered long after the demolition of the Crescents in 1994.

This won’t be a revisionist piece but let’s at least look a little more closely at what went wrong.

The Crescents The Crescents

As we saw when we looked at the city’s early municipal housing in Ancoats, Manchester was the ‘shock city’ of the Industrial Revolution.  Hulme was also the home of many of those first industrial workers.  In 1914, a Special Committee of the City Council reported a population of 63,177 living there in just 13,137 homes, 11,506 of which lacked baths or any laundry…

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