The Portico Library

Charlotte Street/Mosley Street

Library from the age of industry with book and associated art displays


image of the-portico-library

Get there

Public transport: tram or bus to ‘St. Peter’s Square’ 4mins. Free bus (Pink line) passes outside. Private transport: Piccadilly Plaza and a few others (if you dare brave the dead centre) 1min. Library has a stairlift, but users will need courage.


The Portico Library could have been designed for our ‘Worth a Visit’ label. It’s a room at the top of a twisted back staircase behind a door on a backstreet (see the access image). But it’s a big room, with wooden bookshelves from floor to ceiling, and a cafe in the open area which serves local produce cooked to a homemade menu. And a small shop, packed with unusual prints and covers. What books these are, a collection started during the industrial revolution, then evolved; contributions by dissenters, scientists, craftsmen and politicians, from an age when books meant also illustration, art, maps and diagrams. While this library would need four floors of custom‐build display to unfold, the custodians do excellent work with decoration and a few cabinets. What you get on a casual visit (as opposed to academic reading or subscription) is public access to the front room and cafe. The library is probably of interest most to graphic designers, architecture and book‐lovers. Also, if you have been caught by the Bridgewater Canal or Elizabeth Gaskell’s house, this is a lost chapter, or the outer gallery.