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Refuge Assurance office building, Oxford Road Manchester,

Refuge Assurance office building, Oxford Road Manchester, Stock Photo

Image details


Tony Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

Image ID:


File size:

46.2 MB (3.1 MB Compressed download)


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3432 x 4704 px | 29.1 x 39.8 cm | 11.4 x 15.7 inches | 300dpi

Date taken:

9 August 2016


Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA

More information:

The Principal Manchester, originally known as the Refuge Assurance Building or Refuge Building after the insurance company stands at the corner of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street in Manchester, England. The building was previously known as the Palace Hotel. The first phase of this Grade II* listed red brick and terracotta building was designed for the Refuge Assurance Company by Alfred Waterhouse and built 1891–1895. The inside was of Burmantofts faience and glazed brick. The ground floor was one enormous open business hall. It was extended, with a striking 217-foot (66 m) tower, along Oxford Street by his son Paul Waterhouse in 1910–1912. It was further extended along Whitworth Street by Stanley Birkett in 1932. After occupying the building as offices for nearly a century, the Refuge Assurance Company departed the building for a new purpose site in the grounds of Fulshaw Hall, Cheshire on Friday 6 November 1987. The Refuge Assurance company had discussed converting the building into a new home for the Hallé Orchestra with one of Manchester's cultural patrons Sir Bob Scott for over a year. The £3 million funding required for the project did not materialise and the Halle subsequently moved from the Free Trade Hall to the new Bridgewater Hall upon opening in 1996. Local architecture critic John Parkinson-Bailey noted that "one of the most prestigious and expensive buildings in Manchester lay forlorn and empty except for a caretaker and the ghost on its staircase". It was converted to a hotel by Richard Newman in 1996 at a cost of £7 million, and was named the Palace Hotel, owned and operated by the Principal Hotel Company. The hotel is purported to be haunted. The hotel was rebranded 'The Principal Manchester' in November 2016. The building is also now home to restaurant and bar 'The Refuge by Volta' which sits on the corner of Oxford Street and Whitworth Street. Developed in collaboration with DJs-turned-restaurateurs Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford of the a