Richard Lane (architect)

Richard Lane (3 April 1795 – 25 May 1880)[1] was an English architect of the early and mid-19th century. Born in London and based in Manchester, he was known in great part for his restrained and austere Greek-inspired classicism. He also designed a few buildings – mainly churches – in the Gothic style.[2] He was also known for masterplanning and designing many of the houses in the exclusive Victoria Park estate.

Richard Lane
Friends Meeting House Manchester 01.10.2016.jpg
Friends Meeting House, Manchester
Born(1795-04-03)3 April 1795
London, England
Died25 May 1880(1880-05-25) (aged 85)
Ascot, Berkshire, England
Alma materÉcole des Beaux-Arts
PracticeRichard Lane & Peter B. Alley
BuildingsOld MRI Extension
Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum
ProjectsVictoria Park, Manchester

Early life and educationEdit

Not much is known about Lane's early life, but he was born and educated in London, was a Quaker[3] and in 1817, he began studying at the famous École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and was a pupil of the French architect, Achille Leclère,[4] who made a noted restoration of the Pantheon in 1813.[5]

Work and professional lifeEdit

After Paris, Lane moved to Manchester in 1821, set up practice and was appointed Land Surveyor to the Police Commissioners of Chorlton Row (as was).[6][7] Much of Lane's work was civic and governmental in nature, and he was commissioned to design a town hall just off Chapel St for the Salford local government in 1825.

Later, in 1830, the Chorlton Row Police Commissioners – essentially the administrative body of the Chorlton Row township – commissioned Lane to design them a town hall on Cavendish Street. The Chorlton Town Hall was built by David Bellhouse;[8] Lane and Bellhouse would later work together on other projects. Indeed, Lane had a close connection with the Bellhouse family, with Lane transferring his share in the Portico Library to David Bellhouse's son, Edward Taylor Bellhouse in 1834.[9] The old town hall is now used by Manchester Metropolitan University.

Lane's notable ecclesiastical structures include the Royal Chapel of St John the Baptist, St John's, Isle of Man—built after Lane's design won an architectural competition set up by the church authorities.[10] The chapel is the national church of the Isle of Man,[11][12] and functions as the seat of parliament for one day of the year;[13] St George's Church, Chester Road (with Francis Goodwin); the Church of St Mary with St Peter, Church Street, Oldham; and appropriately, the Friends' Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester.

Lane was one of the defendant architects in the landmark case Foss v Harbottle (1843) 67 ER 189, which established the precedent that where a wrong is alleged to have been done to a company, the proper claimant is the company itself.

Manchester Architectural SocietyEdit

By the 1830s, Richard Lane was undoubtedly Manchester's most prominent architect and in 1837, he was one of the founders – and was the first president of – the Manchester Architectural Society.[14] This was Manchester's first architectural learned society.


A number of distinguished students were apprenticed to the practice of Richard Lane and Peter B. Alley; the most notable and celebrated being fellow Quaker, Alfred Waterhouse, who was articled to Lane and Alley in 1845.[15][16] Other distinguished students to complete articles under Richard Lane include the architect, archaeologist, and writer Richard Popplewell Pullan;[17] and the theatre architect, amateur actor, writer, and a former vice-president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Alfred Darbyshire, who developed what was known as the 'Irving-Darbyshire Safety Theatre' with his friend, the actor Henry Irving.[18]

Later lifeEdit

Richard Lane died in Ascot, Berkshire on 25 May 1880, at the age of 85.

Notable projectsEdit


Governmental and civicEdit

  • Salford Town Hall – Bexley Square, Salford (1825–1827. Grade II listed. Formerly housing Salford Magistrates' Court, the building was sold and redeveloped as flats circa. 2010.)
  • Chorlton-on-Medlock Town Hall – Cavendish Street, Manchester (1830–1831. Grade II listed. Only the façade remains of the original building. Now the refectory of Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • Great Bolton Exchange and Library – Victoria Square, Bolton (1825–1829. Grade II listed. Has been a museum of natural history and is now offices and a branch of the Nationwide Building Society)



Didsbury College of Education


  • Victoria Park estate – Rusholme, Manchester (1830s 'gated community'. Lane laid out the roads and sewers and designed many of the residences. The area is still residential, but all of the mansions have now been converted to hotels, educational establishments and nursing homes)
  • Bowden Hall – Bowden Lane, Chapel-en-le-Frith (1844. Grade II listed. A country hall)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "DSA Architect Biography Report". [Dictionary of Scottish Architects]. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  2. ^ Manchester: An Architectural History, page 64. Manchester University Press. 2000. ISBN 9780719056062. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  3. ^ "A Short History of Mount Street Meeting House and Quakers in Manchester". [Manchester and Warrington Quakers]. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  4. ^ Manchester: An Architectural History, page 61. Manchester University Press. 2000. ISBN 9780719056062. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  5. ^ The Concise Dictionary of Architectural and Design History, page 260. Thomas Crisp Learning. 1992. ISBN 9781560520696. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  6. ^ "DSA Architect Biography Report". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  7. ^ Manchester: An Architectural History, page 61. Manchester University Press. 2000. ISBN 9780719056062. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  8. ^ "Bellhouse Family History Page – Chapter 3: Building, Contracting and Engineering, page 37" (PDF). [Dr. David R. Bellhouse]. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  9. ^ "Bellhouse Family History Page – Chapter 3: Building, Contracting and Engineering, page 68, note 34" (PDF). [Dr. David R. Bellhouse]. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
  10. ^ "From Manx Soc vol. 19 – OF THE NEW CHAPEL AT ST. JOHN'S". Manx Soc Publications. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  11. ^ "Isle of Man" (PDF). [Lynn Pearson]. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  12. ^ "Chapel of St John (Tynwald Church)". [Isle of Man Guide]. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  13. ^ "Isle of Man Family History Society Journal Volume ix no 3 Aug 1987 – THE ROYAL CHAPEL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, ST JOHN'S, ISLE OF MAN". Isle of Man Family History Society. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  14. ^ "MSA: A Brief History". [Manchester Society of Architects]. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  15. ^ Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, page 463. Liverpool University Press. January 2004. ISBN 9780853235675. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  16. ^ "MSA: A Brief History". [Manchester Society of Architects]. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  17. ^ "DSA Architect Biography Report". [Dictionary of Scottish Architects]. Retrieved 17 June 2008.
  18. ^ Manchester: An Architectural History, page 124. Manchester University Press. 2000. ISBN 9780719056062. Retrieved 7 July 2008.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Manchester Victorian Architects