The John Rylands Library is a Victorian neo-gothic building on Deansgate in Manchester, incongruously juxtaposed by the ultra modern glass and steel Armani shop on one side and the overbearing 125 Deansgate opposite.
John Rylands is an experience in itself. You can escape the bustle of the city centre for true calm inside, amongst the ornate internal architecture, as well as soaking up the beautiful exhibitions and respectful silence.
John Rylands was a Victorian textile industrialist, and Manchester’s first multi-millionaire.He moved to Manchester in 1834 as Manchester was the centre for the cotton industry at the time. He was the embodiment of ‘King Cotton’, when Manchester was the richest city in the world.
His widow bequested the building of the library as a memorial to her husband. She bought the collection of the 2nd Earl Spencer, which consisted of 43,000 books, including many old Bibles. The libary opened in 1899.
The architecture was very much the expression of the wealth of Manchester, with its ornate neo-gothic style, in many ways protesting the importance of the city compared to London.
The library was the first building in Manchester to be lit by electricity, which was originally generated within the building.
The library has merged with the University of Manchester, and although still a functioning library with reading rooms, also serves as a museum.