In the early 1700’s a single mansion was all that stood on where Cross Street now stands, Radcliffe Hall on the site of the rising ground above the Unitarian Chapel.
Whitaker gives a description of the Hall in 1770, just forty years before it was demolished
“A large timber structure with its heavy portico of wood and its mass and projecting chimney place of stone presents itself to the eye as it glances from the Market St Lane…..constructed near the foot of a knoll,it encloses a little area within and was encircled by a moat.”
The hall was demolished in 1811, but an ancient building called the Half Moon public house which was pulled down in 1873 was said to have been part of the building
On the high ground to the East of the hall was said to be an ale house and a bowling green.During the 1642 siege of Manchester, in which of course the Royalist Radcliffe’s defended the town, two men who had come from Pilkington was killed near the spot and are buried under the bowling green.
The hall was also involved in the presecution of the Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth,James Bell of Warrington and John Finch from Eccleshall were arrested in Manchester and held there.They were to be executed in Lancaster and their heads were displayed from the top of the Collegiate church.
We know that around the late 17th century, the hall passed into the hands of Alexander Radcliffe and around 1782 it was converted into two inns used for by those who worked in the market.
At the other end of what is now Cross Street lay Plungeon Meadow. It ran up to the hall and extended as far as Tib Lane.
The Plungeons were a famous Manchester family. William being Constable of the town during the civil war, his second wife Isabel was a member of the Mosley family.
William would play a part in the setting up of the Dissenters Cross Street Chapel. In 1656 he signed his name to an invitation sent by the parishioners to Henry Newcome,and his son William was to give the dissenters a part of the meadow for the establishment of their church.
Link to Cross Street Chapel
The original Cross Street was not the straight road that we see today but a series of narrow and winding passages. The Manchester writer Swindells reminds us that at the beginning of the nineteenth century it bore three names. From Market St to Chapel Folds, it was referred to as Pool Folds, then to King Street, it was known as Cross Street and for its remainder as Red Cross Street after which it became an irregular lane called Longworth’s Folly between what is now Albert Sq and where the Friends Meeting House stood.
The entrance from Market Street was a narrow and dingy affair through a covered passage from the Market Place, the passage ran underneath a bedroom connected to a two storey black and white building which was the Packhorse Tavern which can be seen in the sketch alongside
In 1828 the town commissioners decided to widen the street from its entire length from Market Street to Princess Street, mainly as a result of being able to access the first town hall which had opened on King Street. The work took some time but the first buildings to go would be those that made up the passage including the Packhorse Tavern and the bookshop of John Hopp, a Yorkshire man known for his eccentricity,once when his shop was closed due to ill health he left the following note on his door
Can’t come to my shop
Because I,John Hopp am ill
But I,John Hopp
Will come to my shop
When I,John Hopp am well
The street began to prosper when Parliament gave the go ahead for a New Exchange in 1866 and the new Guardian Offices
Cross Street indeed became during the nineteenth century, the pioneering street of Manchester’s newspaper industry.
From the old buildings where
the Guardian offices then stood came the War Telegraph one of the first of the penny dailies,It became the Manchester Daily Telegraph.It ran for just over a year from 1854-55 publishing wired Parliamentary debates at 5am the following morning.
The first addition of the Manchester City News came out of the same spot in Jan 1864 as did the first addition of the Manchester Evening News in 1868.The street also housed the Conservative club at the corner of St Ann’s St, it opened in Oct 1876.
With the completion of Albert Square and the New Town Hall, by the end of the nineteenth century, the street had become a busy thoroughfare.
Before the First World War, Cross Street was again widened with the remainder of the Cross Street Wall of the former Free Library on King Street being removed as well as the Portico and steps of the Royal Exchange. By the 1920’s it was the most expensive street in Manchester when it came to buying properties.
1928 saw the Manchester Guardian Offices expanding, Harry S.Fairhurst’s design extending the building back to Pall Mall
The Guardian began to turn its back on Manchester in 1961, setting up its London operation, three years later London was its main base and in 1970 it left Cross Street for good along with the Manchester Evening News as they relocated to Deansgate.
Fifty two thousand square feet were up for sale at No 3, The Arndale Centre was now being built and the building was demolished. Boots now stands on the site.
The Gothic Stone Haworth’s buildings are also no longer there while Commercial Buildings facade, the building dates from 1868, remains while work continues on converting the building behind to become a new 290 bedroom hotel on the street