Victoria Fruit Market, Manchester
Architect: E. Geldart (1868)
Drawing: E. Geldart (1868)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Drawings & Archives Collection
This drawing could easily be mistaken for some sort of fantasy. A high Gothic hall, graced by people dressed in Medieval costume, it appears to be an historical reconstruction.
Actually, this is a competition design of 1868, for a Manchester fruit market. The motto, ‘Ask counsel of both times, of the ancient time what is best, of the present time what is fittest’, gives some idea of the architect Geldart’s intentions. This building was to be well planned and constructed for modern use, but clothed in Gothic garb. Medieval cloisters are the basis for the arched corridors. Gothic arches and a rose window ensure that the hall is well lit, and the complex roof is inspired by Medieval carpentry.
Gothic architecture was much used in commercial buildings throughout the nineteenth century. This was due, in part, to fashion. However, the Gothic style also offered greater flexibility than Classical architecture. Perhaps, though, this design was especially personal. Geldart was ordained as a priest soon after this, concentrating thereafter on embroidery design. It may be that this drawing hints at Geldart’s change in career.