The Manchester Hotel was a prominent landmark on Aldersgate Street, London, for more than six decades. It was built in 1879 by two textile businessmen, Henry Thomas Tubbs and Joseph Lewis, who wanted to provide a comfortable and convenient accommodation for their clients and visitors from the North of England . The hotel had 240 bedrooms, a spacious dining room, a billiard room, a bar and a lounge. It was also used by juries sitting on murder trials at the Old Bailey, who were locked up for the night under the supervision of the City ushers.
The Manchester Hotel: A Witness of History.
Opened in 1879, it was for years a rendezvous for buyers and sellers from the provinces, especially from the North; and for visitors who came to Town for football Cup finals.
The hotel witnessed many historical events during its existence. In 1888, it hosted a meeting of the Fabian Society, where George Bernard Shaw delivered a lecture on socialism. In 1908, it was the venue for a suffragette rally, where Emmeline Pankhurst and other women activists addressed a large crowd of supporters. In 1914, it closed its doors due to the outbreak of World War I and was commandeered by the government as a hostel for Jewish refugees from Belgium and Poland. It reopened in 1919 after undergoing extensive modernisation.
However, the hotel’s most dramatic moment came in December 1940, when it was attacked by German bombs during World War II. The hotel was gutted by fire and reduced to a heap of rubble. The photo below shows the aftermath of the bombing.
The Manchester Hotel was one of many buildings that were destroyed or damaged by the Blitz, which lasted from September 1940 to May 1941. The Blitz aimed to weaken Britain’s morale and economy by targeting its major cities and industrial centres. London suffered the most, with more than 20,000 civilians killed and over one million homes damaged or destroyed.
Manchester Hotel – Aldersgate Street London
The Manchester Hotel was more than just a place to stay. It was a witness of history that reflected London’s changing fortunes over time. It saw prosperity and poverty, peace and war, progress and destruction. It welcomed guests from all walks of life and hosted events that shaped Britain’s society and politics. It was part of London’s heritage that deserves to be remembered.
The Manchester Hotel felt the competition of new hotels in the West End before the last war, and in 1914 closed its doors. Commandeered then by the Government, it was a hostel for a time for Jewish refugees from Belgium and Poland.
The site of the Manchester Hotel remained vacant for many years after the war. It was eventually redeveloped as part of the Barbican estate, a complex of residential towers, cultural venues and public spaces that opened in 1982. Today, nothing remains of the hotel except some memories and photos.
Images from East London showing the destruction from German bombs during World War Two. Images scanned from a genuine copy of The London Evening news magazine, handed down to me from my grandfather.