St Ann's Church

weathering damage    St ann's varied faÁade    purple and red sandstone   
Replacement Stone    yellow and red sandstone    organic weathering
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St Annís Church, which gives its name to the square in which it sits, was completed in 1712 and is one of the oldest buildings in central Manchester. With the growth of Manchester in the 18th and 19th centuries, the most readily available stone was the purplish-red Binney sandstone found at Collyhurst a short distance from the present city centre. On this wooded hill were quarries from which stone was transported on barges or rafts via the River Medlock. Binney sandstone also formed the basis for the Roman Fort in Castlefield, as well as two other landmark Manchester buildings, the Cathedral and Chethamís Music School. Little remains of the cathedralís original sandstone because of piecemeal renovations to the exterior over the century although the school still possess much of this early building material. Because of its unsuitable character for building, much of the original stone in St Annís has been replaced by a mixture of replacement sandstones: from pale brown from Parbold in Lancashire, pinkish from Hollington in Staffordshire, yellow-grey from Darley Dale, and dark red from Runcorn. More recent repairs have also added St Bees sandstone and Kerridge sandstone from Macclesfield. Accordingly, St Annís is now an extraordinary mosaic of sandstones from the north and midlands of England. Thick air pollution in early industrial and Victorian Manchester assailed the surfaces of buildings throughout the city, coating them in soot and it is only since the emergence of a post-industrial era that the church has been cleaned and revealed to be made of multi-coloured stone.

Multiple agencies have assailed the building over the past three centuries, including human wear and tear, rain and ice, rising salt and moisture from the ground, air pollution, and biofilms comprising algae, fungi and other organisms. Repairs carried out by successive generations of architects and stonemasons have required replacement stone as well as numerous techniques, and these multiple attempts at maintenance cover the surface of St Annís. Some repairs have stabilised the churchís properties while others have exacerbated decay, such as the insertion of impermeable mortar and excessive stone cleansing.



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