John Rylands

Manchester Travel Blog

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I found myself in Manchester for the day, after driving up the previous evening.  It was my turn to jump city and see the other half, and so I did.  After a slow morning, we had to make our way into the city centre as Dora had to go to work for a little while.  We had a quick cup of coffee on Deansgate, and I found myself with an hour and a half to kill.  Normal use of ninety minutes usually equates to watching football, however, mid-Wednesday afternoon is not exactly show-time.  Instead I wondered further up Deansgate and into the John Rylands library.  I've been passed the impressive building thousands of times without actually going inside, so this time I was determined to see the interior.

 With free-entry, it wasn't exactly going to be a waste of money, and quite the contrary, I quite enjoyed being inside one of Manchester's landmarks.  

There was 'The Life Of Objects' exhibition going on, which didn't particularly excite me, so I made my way into the Spencer and Crawford rooms instead, to see some of the oldest books in the library.  On to the Rylands Gallery, I found the very proud portion of an original new testament, and then it was time for a brief stop in the Victorian lavatories.  

I enjoyed staring at the entrance doors, and the statues and decorations around them, before climbing the historic staircase to the Historic Reading Room.  Now this is certainly the showpiece of the library.  It is here the statues of several of histories greatest characters are found, and of course, Mr and Mrs Ryland facing each other from opposite sides of the room.

 Joh Ryland was famed for his cotton industry in Manchester, and became a very wealthy man.  It was his final wife (who was previously his and a former wife's maid...) who built the library in his memory.  He was several decades older than her, however, she felt he needed to be remember for his achievement, and so built something lasting.  

It's certainly worth a visit to the reading room if nothing else.  They have tried to incorporate some fun elements into the visit, but it is a very pretty room on its own.  Even if it is just a a rushed, kill time, twenty minutes, you will learn a lot about Manchester's history from a visit to the Rylands.

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photo by: klaaRA