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Co-Operative Hanover Building, Manchester

 

Tweek has this one covered 100%. So I’ll let him roll this one out too ya!

 

The photograph above and one below are mine. The rest under the line, along with the words are from T.

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‘A few years ago now, Gone and I tailgated our way in through the front doors of the Dantzic Building, one of the many buildings owned and operated by the Co-Operative Group at their Manchester headquarters. We darted straight past a confused receptionist on the front desk and started descending the first staircase we could see. The echo of the woman’s voice followed us, “has anybody seen two little boys run through here?”. Despite her obvious error in referring to two 6ft-bearded-20-somethings as ‘little boys’, she had at least done her job of seeing us and flagging the security breach. We knew we were on borrowed time, but it didn’t prove to matter much, as once we’d made it to the basement level of the beautifully-tiled staircase, we were met with a locked door that required a fob to continue.

Some rather suspect mumblings were uttered once we reconvened with the lady at reception, claiming we were lost and looking for a different insurance and banking-related building… i’m sure very convincing given how dishevelled we both looked in trainers and jeans. We didn’t realise we’d need a pass to get out! Thankfully, a Co-Operative employee put his pass up to the doors to exit and we could finish spouting rubbish excuses at her and scarper before a rather more daunting security encounter took place.

“We’re just looking for the Hanover building… on Dantzic Street?”

“Well this is Dantzic Street, but this is the Dantzic Building. There is no Hanover Building on Dantzic Street. The Hanover Building is on Hanover Street.”

“Yeah, kinda makes sense, well, it’s not this one anyway, so, erm, bye then”

We were clearly jumping the gun attempting to access the tunnels that interconnect the various Co-Op owned buildings when the premises were still occupied. But the glimpse of those tiles always peaked our interest. I’ve spent more time than I care to mention trying to access various parts of the Co-Op; sidestepping closer to the smokers outside Federation trying to tailgate into the clocktower stairwell; watching the hefty cameras track NickUK’s every movement as he tried to climb down into some service areas; listening to some of fb’s ludicrous plans on surmounting the CIS Tower (which he’ll probably end up doing), and one afternoon; with a fire engine pulling up alongside us, trying to talk Gone out of following firemen into the ground level of the same building.

“What you on about, man? What’s wrong with you?”, is what HE said to ME!

In 2013, the Co-operative Group colleagues started the migration to former SNC-playground One Angel Square, and Hanover now belongs to the NOMA regeneration scheme. As part of the plans, Hanover Building is the first of the listed buildings to be renovated.

Attempts were made recently by Gone and some others to get down and finally spy these tunnels while the Hanover building was scaffed with many windows left open. Access was very simple, but getting down past the ground floor required passing PIRs situated at the bottom of each staircase, and after setting them off and hearing sirens, that particular attempt ended abruptly.

A short-while later, Gone spoke to fb and myself about going again with a slightly more refined plan. We went for a nosey without Gone and had a similar experience, but crafted some potential solutions. One very simple method ended up working.

We’d spent so much time and thought on just getting down to the basements, that when we actually made it, we were hideously unprepared. Before we got down, we didn’t armour ourselves by revising even the crudest of plans of the tunnels that are available, which made locating where they ought to be quite difficult. Do your research kids, save yourself time. There are reportedly 6 tunnels connecting the basements of Old Bank, Hanover, Dantzic, Federation, E Block and the CIS Tower. Probably the two most notable, the tunnel between Dantzic and the CIS Tower and the tunnel that connects Hanover to Old Bank (and subsequently New Century Hall) we failed to locate. We managed to pass from the Hanover/E Block basements under Federation Street and into the basement of the Federation and Dantzic Buildings, from there we found filled in tunnels and blocked off areas behind padlocked doors that alluded to tunnels. Many areas were sealed off for asbestos removal and obviously we didn’t go interfering with those. It’s quite hard to retrospectively work out what you checked and what you didn’t, trying to position yourself on a map from your memories of when you turned left or right, etc. We were fairly thorough, but there is always potential for opportunities to go unnoticed, or even for the work to open up new areas as time goes on. In that sense, this report can be viewed as a lead. Especially if some of the other buildings open up from above ground’.

‘Hanover is forged from two original buildings, E Block, a Co-operative Wholesale Society Drapery warehouse constructed in 1904 and Hanover, added in 1909 to create office and additional warehouse space. It was designed by Co-operative Wholesale Society architect F. E. L. Harris and was built using over 1.5 million bricks and the newest construction techniques of its time. The building was listed as a Grade II building in 1988.


Originally, there was another floor which housed the Mitchell Memorial Hall – named after John Thomas Whitehead Mitchell, the third CWS President. The grand, top floor meeting hall was well known to Co-operators in its day, but was destroyed in the Manchester Blitz of 1940 and never rebuilt’.

 

Credit to Tweek, a don of film photography and a write-up king. G.

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