A Refuge for Thrift and Industry

Thrift and IndustryAnother of my photos from downtown Manchester, this time a composite of two figures that you’ll find on the gates of the Palace Hotel.

Their names appear beneath each figure, although the one on the right is hard to make out. If you can’t be bothered to enlarge the image, I can tell you that these fine ladies are Thrift and Industry.

These aren’t qualities that you’d necessarily expect from a four star hotel that charges £160 plus for an overnight stay, certainly not thrift, but then it inherited these virtues.

The building began life in the 1890s as the home the Refuge Assurance Company. The terracotta building has been a fixture of the city ever since, particularly its clock tower which stands out on the skyline.

It was designed by the eminent Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse and within ten years of its opening in 1895, the company had outgrown it and he was summoned again to add to it, including the clock tower.

The company closed its doors in 1989 and in the 1990s Principal Hotels bought up the properties and turned them into a 252 bedroom hotel and conference centre, taking its name from its proximity to the Palace Theatre.

As for the Refuge Assurance Company, after various mergers it is now part of the Royal London Mutual Assurance Society, but the ladies on its gates are much in demand in these difficult economic times.

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2 comments… Add yours
  • Dumb Pudding 8th September 2012

    You neglected to inform your loyal readership as to the whereabouts of this place you call Manchester. Never heard of it. Is it somewhere in England? Also, where can I now get insurance for the corrugated iron anti-apocalypse refuge I have built in our garden?

  • Mr Parrot 8th September 2012

    I suppose I should have been more specific – ‘Manchester (not in Yorkshire)’ – to encourage more visitors!

    And don’t worry about your anti-apocalyptic refuge. Should it fail for whatever reason, I’m sure that B+Q will provide a replacement or refund.


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