Architect: Thomas Mitchell
Published in The Building News, July 19, 1878: “This building, which we illustrate, was opened last week. The architect is Mr. T. Mitchell, F.R.I. B. A., of Manchester and Oldham. The winter gardens, pavilion, and skatingrinks were commenced about two years ago. The style adopted is Italian. The entrance in Church, street is surmounted by a glass dome 120ft. in height, and 12Gft. in circumference. In the vestibule formed beneath is a fountain, surrounded by ferns, tropical shrubs, and statuary. From this vestibule access is gained to the floral hall, an apartment 176ft. in length, 44ft. wide, and 25ft. high. The grand promenade is a continuation of the floral hall, and is carried round the pavilion, which is the main feature of the buildings. The promenade is of equal width with the floral hall, and its length is 423ft., with a height of 25ft. Flowers and shrubs are its chief adornments, but there is a large array of sculpture, including some finely- executed allegorical representations of the Four Seasons, and copies from Canova, Gibson, Duret, Donatello, and other artists. There are also some busts of members of the Royal family, and of eminent musicians. The grand pavilion length is 155ft., the width being 75ft., and the height 6Oft. The floor is somewhat lower than that of the grand promenade, which surrounds and overlooks it, and, by an arrangement of revolving shutters, it can be entirely shut off, with a view to musical and theatrical performances, for which purpose a spacious proscenium has been constructed. The pavilion is surrounded by a gallery, and at night is lighted by three gasaliers of 150 lights each.
The mural decorations and the painting of the ceiling have not yet been commenced. The general dimensions of the structures are as follows : — Church-street entrance, 32ft. long, 22ft. wide, 25ft. 6in. high; statuary hall or dome, 42ft. diameter, 120ft. high; lavatories and cloak- rooms ; promenade (including dome, floral hall, &c.), 780ft. or 2fiO yards ; pavilion and concert hall, 133ft. 6in. long, 72ffe.3in. wide, 54ft. high, six dressing – rooms attached thereto ; grand vestibule to Victoria-street, 107ft. long, 3Gft. wide, and upper room ; ferneries, lOOtt., average width, 24tt. ; indoor skating rink, 135ft. long, SSft. wide, 40ft. high, 11,880 sup. feet ; outdoor skating-rink, IGOft. long, IGOtt. wide, 23,200 sup. feet, total 35,0S0 sup. feet ; rink refreshment room, 42ft. by 30ft. ; dining-room. 73£t. by 30ft., with the necessary kitchens ; two refreshment-rooms, each 50ft. by 30tt. The whole of the space under the pavilion is cellared, and to be used as storage, or for bowling allies, shooting galleries, and other amusements. A house for the propagation of plants has also been provided, 160ft. long by 22ft. wide. Messrs. Cardwell and Sutcliffe. Fielding and Son. and Curwen and Swain, were respectively the contractors for the brickwork, masonry, and joinery work ; Messrs. Braby and Co. for the zinc work, and Messrs. Minton, HoUins, and Co. supplied the tiles. The floor area of the building exceeds two acres. More than three million bricks have been used in the building, and the total weight of material handled in construction was nearly 18,000 tons. The glazing of the whole of the Winter Gardens has been done on Rendle’s patent sys- tem. The dome is about 120ft. in height, and can be seen 15 or 30 miles at sea. It has a very light appearance, and has stood well against some of the fiercest gales that have ever swept over the Atlantic. The mode of fixing the glass is very simple— light cross-bearers, or purlins are fixed horizontally to the main prin- cipals of the roof, and to these are fixed zinc or copper grooved bars, in which the glass slides, and is lapped vertically, or a small bar is inserted between the glass. “