It’s the largest single site university in the UK, home to 39,000 students; commonly rated as one of the UK’s top universities behind the world famous Oxford and Cambridge; and ranks as one of the top 25 research facilities in the world. But if all that doesn’t convince you to pay a visit to the University of Manchester campus, a glimpse of the stunning Victorian architecture will surely lure you in.
Although the institution has roots stretching back to 1824, the University of Manchester was only amalgamated back in 2004, when the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology joined forces. Today, the main University sites are located in central Manchester with buildings split between the Sackville Street Campus and Oxford Road Campus.
Visitors to the campus can enjoy free admission to the grounds and landmark buildings, as well as free guided tours each Wednesday afternoon. Start your tour by exploring the 19th-century gothic-style buildings that make up the Old Quandrangle, designed by father and son team Alfred and Paul Waterhouse, and leave time for a visit to the renowned Manchester Museum, owned and run by the University and housing an enormous collection of artifacts behind its dramatic turreted façade. Also worth a visit are the imposing John Owens building, constructed in 1873; the grand Grade II listed building of Whitworth Hall and the old Christie library, now home to the elegant Christie Bistro. The John Ryland’s University Library is also a popular site, one of the biggest in the country, housing over 4 million books, as is the unique Contact Theatre, a modernist fortress that looms over Devas Street.
Not all of Manchester University’s building are in the city though; the Jodrell Bank Observatory, home to the Lovell Telescope (the 3rd largest in the world), lies in Goostrey, rural Manchester and the Chancellors Hotel and conference center, a mid-19th century mansion once owned by Sir Joseph Whitworth, is located just outside the city. The impressive buildings are both open to the public.