In 2012 the CIS tower celebrated it’s 50th year (as well as it being the international year of the Co-Op) and this year the new headquarters at Angel Place will open. In tribute and celebration Skyliner presents an exclusive look at the 1962 commemorative brochure.
Thank you to S.L. Scott for the beautiful artwork in the image above and to the Co-Operative for allowing reproduction of the brochure.
"The Directors of the C.I.S have pleasure in enclosing Commemorative Booklet of that great occasion on 22nd October, 1962, when H.R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T., so graciously opened the new building in the presence of a large number of guests from Home and Overseas.
It is hoped much pleasure will be derived from the contents of this souvenir booklet and that the typescript of what was said on that notable occasion will recall many happy memories.”
"New Head Office premises of the Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd, Miller Street, Manchester, England"
"To the applause of a large crowd that had gathered in Miller Street, Prince Philip, accompanied by Rt. Hon. The Earl of Derby, M.C., Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, walks to entrance where he was greeted by Messrs. Wild and Dinnage, who accompanied him on his tour of the building."
"(Top right) The first visit is 60 feet below ground to the Control Room where Mr. R.J. Browness, the Premises Controllers, explains the workings of the air-conditioning systems and other features. (Bottom left) On the fourth floor Mr. Donald Stott describes the uses of the electronic computer."
"After having lunch in the Main Dining Hall with nearly 300 guests, a happy Prince Philip bids farewell."
"Mr. Albert Wild, J.P. (Chairman)"
Excerpts of Albert Wild’s speech from the day:
"It was in 1875 that we moved into the city buildings, and they still stand; and then we moved into our late Chief Office in 1895, following on a period in Long Millgate opposite the old Manchester Grammar School. Then, in 1908 we had built that wonderful bit of architecture you see at the end of Corporation Street, our Head Office prior to this; and I think when it was noticed was regarded quite seriously as an architectural gem - probably in keeping with the Manchester Town Hall - and since we strayed from Rochdale in those far-off days we have never strayed far from this particular corner of Manchester, which I fear we dominated and I think we own most of it…
Our 2,500 employees were scattered in ten different buildings throughout Manchester, and I think all are agreed that does not promote the highest efficiency or the best understanding with regard to staff relations. This is the history of the C.I.S., and makes clear the need for this new Head Office which we are honoured by His Royal Highness in opening today…
At the outset, of course, we had to make an estimate of the sort of space we should require, not only for the present need but for the future growth; but having made that estimate, our first feelings and our first reactions were to plan a building that would provide the maximum of comfort and efficiency for the staff themselves, in other words a place in which it would be a pleasure to work. A tremendous amount of thought has, of course, been given to layout and the floor space, the air conditioning and ventilation and all the rest. You see most of our staff sit most of the day so we decided to have desks suitable for their particular sedentary occupation, and we had prototypes of these made and tested by the staff themselves prior to coming into the new building and placing the order for the various types of equipment. We soon made a big leap forward in the office buildings themselves by deciding on full air conditioning which, despite the fact that we do not suffer the extremes of heat and cold as some countries do, nevertheless, in spite of all the wonderful efforts of the Manchester and Salford Corporations I think it will be observed when you look from the roof of this building that the air of MAnchester is really not fit to breathe even yet. As you see, we have no opening windows and therefore we have no problems in the offices, as all you who have worked in an office will know, that whether the windows should be open or closed can create a major disturbance and have vast repercussions…
The key note in the building has been simplicity, and yet we have not neglected the arts.
We have many pictures, many painting, and these have been done by contemporary artists. We hope that we may have struck a few winners, but that remains for the years ahead, but as you leave I would like you to examine that beautiful mural in the main entrance hall. This has been done by Griffiths & Mitchell.
As you look around youI am sure that you will agree with the provision of the most attractive cafeteria for the staff and the recreation room on the fifth floor that we have provided; but we do intend and have already decided to commence a new building entirely for the parking of cars, for a gymnasium and for all indoor sports…
I have been studying with some interest the statistics of the building - for instance I notice, apart from anything else, it has also been weighed at some 100.000 tons. I can only figure that the designs are to distract one from the cost which is not mentioned! In fact all the physical statistics are most impressive indeed, as tehy should be if they are to reflect the financial statistics of the Society, for instance I notice that the total of claims paid out in 161 was over £34,000,000 - it is almost as good as the football pools - yet I notice that the Society’s assets are even more impressive, from just over half-a-million in 1913 they’ve grown to nearly £300,000,000 in 1961, and this can’t be entirely due to inflation. The facts are te new building accurately reflects the size and standing of the Society and the very considerable success it has achieved in its 95 years. The mere fact that it can begin to pay for a building like this proves that it must be doing reasonably well, and I am quite sure that this headquarters will also play an important part in encouraging other countries who have yet to see the co-operative light - one look at this place and they are bound to say ‘Oh yes, we will have one of those!’.”
"These are the first views that meet the visitor’s eye when entering the building from Miller Street. The Entrance Hall has aroused much favourable comment, and Mr. N. Keith Scott, M.Arch (MIT), MA, B.Arch (Hone /Pool), Dip.CD, ARIBA, AMTPI, chartered architect and planning consultant, in an article in ‘The Architect and Building News’ of 16th January, 1963, made the comments:
(The William Mitchell mural above, and below as it looks today)
"…The entrance hall sets the standard for the internal spaces, and though not all rooms quite live up to it, one would be hard pressed to name another building in the country of a superior quality of interior design. Indeed, the foyer is one of the best I have ever seen. The rough granite floor, the white Sicilian marble walls, the white plastic troughed ceiling, the black, metal-sheathed columns combine to give a foundation of monastic calm and severity. This quality is relieved by a long wall of warm timber veneer leading off into the bowels of the building, then some judiciously placed exotic foliage and a really brilliant 30ft. by 12ft 6in. mural by George [sic] Mitchell. This comprises an abstract design in bronzed fibreglass cast against a polystyrene mound and then sensitively dashed with ammonia to give soft green highlights, whose effect is heightened by spotlights which give further emphasis to its deep relief. It brings life and sparkel to the entire space, and for at least one visitor it is worth it’s weight in gold…"
"Deep in the basement an engineer sits at the control panel which is the nerve centre of the entire building."
"Two typical office scenes. The desks, constructed in metal and nylon, are specially adapted to meet individual requirements, as are the chairs.
Top-floor office for two secretaries, with general manager’s office beyond.”
"Left: The Board Room. Top Right: Reception area on 23rd floor. Bottom Right: An example of office partitioning."
"Top left: A committee room on the Executive floor (23rd). Bottom left: The officials’ dining room. Top right: Visitors’ dining room. Bottom right: Reception area on 23rd floor."
"Much thought and attention has been given to the welfare of the staff. The cafeteria in the basement is capable of serving 3,000 meals over the space of two hours, and after meals staff can enjoy the luxury of a well-appointed coffee lounge or dance to recorded music in the recreation room. Others may find more peaceful relaxation on the Observation Floor on the top of the building where, on a fine day, many fine panoramic views can be seen. There is also a well-equipped welfare department with trained nurses in attendance, and much provision has been made for sports and social activities.
Centre top: Cafeteria serving counters. Centre bottom: A skilled nurses attends to a patient. Right: The Cafeteria.”
"Top left: A section of the cafeteria. Bottom Left: The recreation room with sprung dance floor. Top right: The recreation room converted into a Conference Hall. Bottom right: Staff are taught golf in their spare time bu a local professional."
"The Observation Floor at the top of the building. The windows are of a special optical glass which does not distort viewing and heating is by means of under-floor electric cables."
"The story of Britain’s tallest office block , towering 400 feet above street level and weighing roughly 100,000 tons, is really one of statistics: - 10,000 tons of reinforced concrete for foundations. 2,500 tons of steel for the tower block, starting with stanchions at ground level that weighed 19 tons each. 635,000 feet of tubular scaffolding and 157,000 feet of scaffold boarding. A 456 ft. tower-crane - tallest in Europe and a walkie-talke set to talk to the operator! 25,000,000 tiny pieces of mosaic. 3.2000 welded aluminium sub-frames measuring 13ft. by 14ft 9in. 250,000 square feet of glass weighing 300 tons. 14 air conditioning plants supplying a total volume of 650,000 cubic feet of conditioned air every minute. 20,000 yards of special screened cable to convey temperatures to the control room from 200 different points. Four oil-fired 10,000000 B.Th.U/hour hight pressure corner tube boilers.”
"Three 500 ton centrifugal compressors equivalent to making 1,500 tons of ice every day. Cooling tower with capacity of 283,100 gallons every hour. 4,000 air0conditioning grilles requiring 48 miles of rolled steel strip; 14 miles of mild steel bar, and 7.5 miles of extruded aluminium. 16,000 lighting fittings housing 18,000 lamps with a load of 1,750,000 watts. 80 miles of cable and 600 telephone extensions. Flexible PVC tiles on 550,000 square feet of floor. 63,000 glazed wall tiles. 27,000 square feet of vitreous floor tiles. 500,000 square feet of ceiling trays filled with insulation material. For office partitioning more than nine miles of aluminium were required with 42,000 square feet of panelling and 9,000 square feet of plate glass. 3,000 desks and 3,000 chairs. 850 teak plywood chairs for cafeteria. 170 dining tables. 16,800 pieces of cutlery. 21,000 pieces of specially designed crockery."
“Left: coating the back of mosaics Centre: A Special adhesive cement is put on the wall. Right: The mosaics are firmly embedded and the paper surface is torn off.
Each piece of mosaic is roughly one inch square and there are 25,000,000 of them throughout the building. There are 14 million on the service tower alone and were stuck to the walls in sheets of 196 at a time using a special adhesive cement. Each piece is kept separate from its neighbour and adheres by its surface to a piece of paper. Once the backs have been cemented and then stuck to the wall, the paper surface is torn off leaving 196 pieces individually in the cement, making a clean, lustrous, weatherproof finish.”
“Top left and above: Special cable carrying channels were put down at regular intervals so that all desks would have electrical and telephone points readily available if required. This completely eliminates unsightly cables. Left: Lines that carry the window cleaning rig are carefully grouted in, as much weight and stress involved when the cleaning gondola is let over the side of the building.”
“On Wednesday, 13th July, 1960, Mr. S. Leonard Kassell, who was then Chairman, formally laid the foundation stone. He used a mallet which had been bequeathed to John Laing Construction td., by their first foreman mason (1879-1922).”
"On Tuesday 12th September, 1961, Mr. S. Leonard Kassell performed the official ‘topping-out’ ceremony. The ceremony, which is of great antiquity, usually consists of the hoisting of flags; a young fir tree; a sheaf of corn; or even a brush, when the highest part of the building is reached. On this occasion Mr. Kassell manipulated the skip handle which poured 25 cwts. of cement into the wooden shuttering that formed the mould of the final section of wall on the service tower."
“Above: Mr. Kassell proposes the toast to a fine building. Top left: Employees of John Laing Construction Ltd., willingly respond. Bottom left: Mr. R Dinnage (centre), enjoys a joke with the contractors. Below: Mr. Kassell with Mr. W. Kirby Laing who made the opening address at the ‘topping out’ ceremony.”
The William Mitchell Mural, the control room, the recreation room all remain as shown in these images though the recreation room is occupied as office space.
There’s also a wonderful publicity shot for local DJ Kevin Lane showing him, larger than life, leaning on the tower.
These images are exclusive to Skyliner via the Co-Operative, please do not reproduce without referencing these sources.