last week i was invited along to a very special launch event by wallpaper* magazine, who have teamed up with allied london, developers of the london road fire station in manchester, to create the house of london road. working in collaboration with london-based interior architecture and design practice amos and amos, the wallpaper* composed team transformed three interior spaces in the old coroner’s court to reflect the proposed working and living spaces of the new house of london road, using a palette of contemporary colours and styling that is indicative of the design and branding that will be adopted for the future workspaces and residential apartments in the building.

for those of you unfamiliar with manchester, the london road fire station is an iconic former fire station situated across the road from manchester’s piccadilly station, and steeped in local heritage. built between 1904 and 1906 by j. gerrard and sons of swinton, the red brick and terracotta façade was designed in edwardian baroque style and has been a grade II listed building since 1974. the site served as the headquarters for manchester’s fire brigade, but in addition to being just a fire station, the building also housed a police station, ambulance station, bank, coroner’s court, and gas-meter testing station, as well as housing for the firemen and their families. the fire station closed in 1986 and since then has been largely unused, despite several unsuccessful redevelopment proposals. allied london’s redevelopment of the london road fire station promises to create a new institution for the people of manchester to come together and create music, literature, art and film, offering a place to work, relax and enjoy life in utilitarian, purposefully designed surroundings.

we wanted to trigger a feeling at the house of london road that felt true to the roots of this building, but also expanded on what it means as a destination as the development progresses. to use, london road is a perfect space that needs little added to restore its beauty. we chose to work with the world’s most respected designers and curators to create a private exhibition space for our future community. ~ michael ingall, chief executive of allied london. 

it was such a wonderful experience to take a peek inside the magnificent old coroner’s court; a celebration in mahogany and stained glass which provided the perfect setting for an acoustic performance by california-born manchester-dwelling singer-songwriter jesca hoop, who stood up at the judge’s bench and held everyone captive with her finger-picked guitar and swooping vocals that reverberated around the music hall. the vision for this space is as an intimate music venue for stripped back performances with ‘no wires, no speakers’ and if this performance was anything to go by it will be a truly magical and evocative place to enjoy one of manchester’s most beloved pastimes.

the house of london road will be a social meeting, film and music hall where people from all walks of life can come together to talk, meet, play, learn and entertain. it is a place for the simple enjoyment of speech, motion and music. ~ allied london

the origin and design of the space at the new house of london road is influenced by the shaker movement which was established by ann lee, a blacksmith’s daughter and mill hand, in manchester in 1747. the shaker lifestyle was known for its simplicity – whether in design, architecture or practices – and also featured an emphasis on musical performances and dances, making it a perfectly aligned inspiration for the reimagining of this beloved space in the centre of the city.

the wallpaper* composed team embraced the ethos of the shaker lifestyle in their styling of the old coroner’s court for the launch event, creating staged settings that reflected both the heritage of the building and the needs of modern lifestyle. my favourite piece was definitely the russell pinch drinks cabinet, liberally stocked with gin, which took up an imposing position on the balcony above the coroner’s court..

frans drinks cabinet, russell pinch; otis champagne flutes, cocktail glasses and tumblers, lsa international; plum cocktail shaker & tongs and tank low ball glasses, tom dixon. 

i was also incredibly enamoured with the workroom, set up to showcase what the working office spaces in the building will offer when they open next year. i can certainly see myself happily working away in a set-up such as this..

caché lamp, le klint; family no. 3 chair and mini step ladder, design house stockholm; uncino chair, ronan & erwan bouroullec for mattiazzi; planks table, max fraser for benchmark; settle 446 bench, ilse crawford for de la espada; emma companion set, eldvarm; koppa tool box and magazine rack, verso design; kitchen scissors, hay; plant pots, nomad letter tray, pen holder and tray, skagerak; pegrail, shaker of malvern; notebooks and coloured pencils set, monograph. 

lastly, a living space had been styled by the composed team to showcase a pared-down, shaker-inspired social meeting space – i can certainly see myself relaxing and catching up with friends here, maybe enjoying a poetry reading or lecture..

mayor sofa, &tradition; rodan coffee table, russell pinch; 3° regal mini shelving unit, zeitraum; j16 rocker chair, fredericia; la lampe floor lamp, friends & founders; isolde throw, aiayu; eclectic cushion and kutter candleholder, hay; emma lantern, eldvarm; edge brass plate, skagerak; de bysance candle, mad et len; funghi bowl, applicata; nappula candleholder, iittala; kora vase, studiopepe for atipico; white vase, karakter, dancing handles vases, th manufacture; bespoke rug, crucial trading

the house of london road will be open for events, performances and shows over the next year as london road’s transformation continues; you can sign up for updates or share your thoughts on what you’d like to see in the venue at londonroadmcr.com.

all photography © fabric of my life. 


  1. lucy

    21 July

    Oh I wish I lived closer this sounds amazing. I can enjoy your photos though. You visit some great events X

  2. Rachel

    22 July

    I’ve heard lots about this project before, so it’s great to read more about it and see inside. It sounds like a lovely launch event.

  3. Oh it’s so good to read your post – I wish I could have made the event myself! The building is absolutely stunning and I love their ideas for it – especially the acoustic music venue portion. I had no idea the building had so many uses in the past. A really fascinating post, Kate – thanks so much for sharing xx

  4. Stephanie

    24 July

    That building is stunning and full of so much character. Great event to attend

  5. Gorgeous architecture images and good-looking pictures where you get good ideas

  6. This place looks absolutely amazing and what a great insight into its past and future uses. I really like that drinks cabinet too!

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