Wednesday, December 08, 2010

ABC Wednesday:
U is for Upper Brook Street Unitarian Chapel

The Unitarian Chapel, Upper Brook Street, Manchester, a Grade II* listed building, was recently described by the Victorian Society as one of the ten most endangered Victorian buildings in England & Wales.

The former Unitarian Chapel has been owned by Manchester City Council since the 1970s. Opened in 1839 it is the first known example of a Gothic nonconformist chapel and believed to have been an early collaboration between Sir Charles Barry and AWN Pugin before they worked together on the Palace of Westminster. Yet despite its national significance, the chapel has been neglected for decades, resulting in 2005 in the removal of its roof. The chapel is now open to the elements and largely a ruin.

It was constructed between 1837 and 1839 out of sandstone, with a slate roof. It is in English neogothic style. The building has seven narrow bays, with buttresses and a lancet in each bay. The west end has a giant moulded archway, with an arched doorway at the ground floor with a window above. On the east end there is a rose window. The corners are square, with pinnacles. The inside of the chapel had galleries on three sides, and a ribbed, vaulted ceiling. The attached two-storey Sunday School is in the same style as the chapel, and has a triple-gabled north side, with large arched windows on the first floor. It also has a canted apse on the west end, and a lean-to porch.

The chapel was originally constructed for the Unitarians and was used for burial rites until at least 1857 (although the chapel has no graveyard), as well as baptisms until at least 1912, and marriages until at least 1916.

The chapel was sold in 1928 and subsequently used as a Welsh Baptist Chapel. It was then used as a Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall in the early 1970s. The most recent use of both the chapel and former Sunday School was for the Islamic Academy of Manchester between 1974 and 2006, when it was used as a mosque, teaching centre and for outreach work in the Asian community. The chapel is currently vacant, whilst the Islamic Academy still occupy the Sunday School.

Keith Williamson was there the same day as I but unbeknown to each other and took this view from the top floor of the Aquatics Centre Car Park.

More information and photos can be found on Wikipedia.

Visit ABC Wednesday for more U posts.


  1. That chapel certainly has been universal with its occupants,
    How sad the roof is gone and it is in serious decay.

  2. Fantastic Chapel!Thanks for all information and so beautiful pictures!

  3. very UPSCALE, high church cf w most of the Unitarian churches I see these days. lovely bldg.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  4. I drive past this building regularly on my way to Old Trafford and have noted for years that it has been disappearing bit by bit. Is this because it's a listed building and they think that by taking off a roof slate or removing a piece of stonework every couple of weeks or so no-one will notice that it's being gradually demolished?

  5. An interesting post about the history and sad neglect of this building.

  6. lovely buildings..
    well plotted u post.
    Happy Wednesday.

  7. Any building that is not used and inhabited quickly goes to ruin. I sure hope the community finds a way to restore this interesting piece of architecture.

  8. Excellent photos of the chapel! Restoration does work miracles.