Lottery funds pave way for £7m Manchester Portico revamp
Development will start immediately on mapping out the transformation of the grade two-listed library, securing its future while preserving the historic book collection that dates back more than 450 years.
Manchester’s Portico Library has been awarded almost half a million pounds by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, kickstarting the £7m redevelopment of the 218-year-old building off Mosley Street.
The property’s Board of Trustees will now work with experts and the community to trial plans for the project, which will see the Portico converted into a creative space with all three floors brought together for the first time in more than 100 years.
Proposals for the basement and ground floor feature a dining and exhibition area, a ‘Northern Bookshop’, and a collections-core lab, along with flexible event and meeting spaces.
Upstairs, plans intend to retain and enhance the library’s existing heritage by showcasing the building’s architecture, manuscript archive, and book collection.
Established in 1806 as a newsroom and library, the Portico’s current book stock ranges from a first edition of Jane Eyre to Portico Prize winners.
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.
“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”, he continued.
“Embracing creativity, collaboration, and inclusivity, the project will unlock the library’s past to plan for the future.”
Dave Moutrey, director and chief executive at HOME and director of culture for Manchester City Council, added that 2023 has been an “exceptional year” for culture in the city, noting the reopening of Manchester Museum and the launch of Aviva Studios.
“A bright and exciting future lies ahead for our ever-expanding culture corridor”, he concluded.