Newly renovated Ancoats Dispensary officially opens

Jeremy Hartley, Group Chief Executive, and Eric Wright Construction MD, John Hartnett joined Leader of Manchester City Council, Cllr Bev Craig and client, Great Places Housing Group to mark the official opening of the affordable housing development at the newly renovated Ancoats Dispensary building close to Manchester city centre.

The foundation stone, originally laid by HRH Prince Albert Victor (Queen Victoria’s grandson) in 1888 was unveiled to mark the occasion. The stone was recovered during the redevelopment of the building and now takes pride of place at the entrance to the Dispensary.

Eric Wright Construction has redeveloped the iconic Grade II listed building into 39 new homes for affordable rent. Completed in early February 2024, the Dispensary includes a mix of 25 one-bed and 14 two-bed apartments.

Built in 1874, the local landmark was in use as a hospital until 1989 then remained vacant until we began remedial work on the site in January 2022. With our client, we have worked closely with local stakeholders and Buttress Architects to preserve as much of the original building as possible. This included two sides of the historic façade and the painstaking restoration of the iconic clock tower.

In keeping with the importance of preserving the Dispensary’s rich history, partners on the project have supported Manchester-based author and photographer, Len Grant, to document the story of the building’s 150-year history in a book which will be published shortly.

Speaking at the opening, Jeremy Hartley said: “Eric Wright Construction is proud to have delivered 39 new apartments for our client Great Places Housing, and to have played a part in marking the start of an exciting new chapter in the life of the Ancoats Dispensary. This project was undoubtedly ambitious and presented some unique challenges along the way, the skill and diligence that went into every other aspect of restoring this incredible building is something we are all very proud of. As part of Ancoats redevelopment, we’ve seen many of the changes unfold as we’ve been fortunate to be involved in the delivery of over 700 homes in the area.”

Commenting on the completion of the project, Matthew Harrison, Chief Executive at Great Places, said:  “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to show Cllr Craig and guests around the completed Dispensary that heralds a new era for one of Ancoats’ most cherished landmarks as well as providing 39 high-quality much needed affordable homes in the area. We couldn’t have done this without the support and input of a variety of partners and would in particular like to thank Manchester City Council, Historic England and the Ancoats Dispensary Trust whose feedback was invaluable in helping us to develop a design that will provide modern affordable homes whilst acknowledging the site’s rich historic past by preserving as much of this iconic building as possible.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, added: “It’s a momentous occasion to be able to visit and walk around the former Ancoats Dispensary, when only a few years ago this building was only a shell and could’ve very easily been lost to time. This phase is a continuation of coordinated regeneration and development across the neighbourhood in recent years. The programme has seen Ancoats transform from an area characterised by dilapidated buildings, vacant premises and deprivation into an attractive and vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood and extension of the city centre.

Other guests supporting the official opening were Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, Cllr Gavin White, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Housing & Development, and Cllrs Alan Good and Irene Robinson, ward councillors for Ancoats and Beswick.

(L-R: Linda Carver; Jeremy Hartley, Cllr Bev Craig, Paul Nelson, Lucy Powell MP, Matt Harrison, Cllr Irene Robinson, Helen Spencer and Cllr Gavin White)

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