Few places symbolise the true character and spirit of Manchester more than Ancoats Dispensary. It’s not a stately home or a concert hall or a grand municipal building.
It’s a former hospital that served the people living in and around Ancoats, the first industrial suburb in the world.
It was mentioned in Elizabeth Gaskell’s book Mary Barton, and painted by LS Lowry in 1952.
In the nineteenth century, the poverty and illness endured by local people were unimaginable to us today.
Ancoats Dispensary helped those communities for 115 years until it closed in 1989.
It stood derelict and was almost demolished until a group of committed local people intervened, with the aim of saving it.
They managed to secure support from a wide range of people and organisations.
I went to their ‘Sharing the Vision’ event in February 2015 and was impressed with their determination and professionalism. It was held at Hallé St Peters, a building that demonstrates the massive power and potential of regenerating forgotten buildings.
They ran a crowdfunding campaign on Spacehive under the title The Beating Heart of Ancoats and thank goodness, they achieved their target.
So it seems the future looks promising for Ancoats Dispensary. Another determined group of campaigners took a stand, and against the odds, they won.
This article is adapted from one that appeared in the Manchester Evening News in late 2014.