CIBSE Lifts Group

Manchester Central Library & Town Hall Project

John Bentley

ANSA Elevators Ltd


Manchester Town Hall and Central Library complex comprises three of Manchester’s most iconic buildings situated in the heart of the bustling city centre, providing a stunning juxtaposition of eclectic architectural genres comprising the Grade 1 listed Victorian neo-gothic Town Hall, designed by Alfred Waterhouse & completed in 1877 subsequently complemented by  E Vincent Harris's combined undertaking of the Classical Rome Pantheon inspired circular Central Public Library opened in 1934 followed by the dramatic neo-gothic Town Hall Extension finished in 1938 serving as Manchester City Council’s municipal headquarters.


In 2011, following circa 80 years of demanding Mancunian public service,  the Town Hall Extension & Central Library were closed in preparation for a £100M+  extensive 3 year  ‘transformation ‘ programme designed to sympathetically modernise and re-orientate two of Manchester's most historic landmark building’s to provide its users and the community with a vibrant multi-functional customer service centre, exhibition/entertainment area, cafes, bistros, conventional library -


Aside from all of the grand history and world class knowledge banks housed within the gracious interior lay one less well known fact and a point of great civic pride. The original Central Library lifts (two passenger and six book hoists) were all designed and
installed by Etchells Congden and Muir of Ancoats, Manchester.

The company were prolific in lift engineering throughout the world and supplied and installed lifts as far afield as Russia, Peru and Venezuela. Derivatives of the original passenger lifts were finally removed as part of the current transformation however, although now out of commission, the original book hoists remain in situ.

After a rigorous tender process it was fitting that 80 years on from the original commission ANSA Elevators, who have very strong roots and ties with Etchells, Congden and Muir, were successful in being appointed to design, build and install the lifts in the soon to be transformed Library complex.
The appointment pays tribute to the commitment of Manchester City Council and Laing O'Rourke in utilising strong local skills on such a complex and prestigious project.

The contract required detailed traffic analysis, design and engineering input from the outset. The strict requirements of Manchester City Councils 'Design for Access' (DFA2) criteria demanding high levels of functionality for all users coupled to a strict aesthetic brief from the architects. ANSA were able to meet all of these requirements in house.

The whole of the project which involved 16 lifts in total, ran in phases over a 3 year period during which the building itself went through a major transformation, adding additional floors and creating a new lower ground link from the City's Town Hall to the Library complex.

The resulting vertical transportation within the building is highlighted by the two 16 person 1.6m/s scenic passenger lifts set within the Central Circulation Core. The subtle radius of the shafts provided an engineering challenge which was readily met by ANSA working with our key supply partners at Wittur.

The project enabled ANSA to demonstrate not just our engineering capabilities but also our commitment to the lift industry, local economy and our own corporate social responsibility. We engaged two modern apprentices on the project who worked on all aspects of the design and build process. Our apprentice training is a mainstay within the company.

The opportunity to contribute to the Manchester Central Library Trust 'Time Capsule' with both financial support and a cultural input was a particular highlight of the project.

As one part of our sponsorship role ANSA commissioned a local artist to create a mosaic in the image of the Manchester Bee (signifying the city's industrious heritage) which now forms part of the time capsule exhibit.
The Scenic Lifts are in MRL format with the Kollmorgen control system installed remote from the shafts in order to meet the strict 'clean line' requirement of the architect.

The finished result delivers a solution which will meet the high traffic demands in a building which now provides Manchester with a world class information resource, performance spaces and cultural reference points for the 21st century.


Library Complex


The Duplex passenger lifts featured in this article are;

  1. AC-PM gearless MRL traction 1275kg/ 17 person MRL traction passenger lifts
  2. WITTUR W Line format, bespoke feature framed glass cars
  3. 2 newly formed purpose built 33 metre high free standing glazed and steel shaft structures set to follow same radial profile of building external elevation.
  4. 1.6m/s contract speed, 26 metre travel serving 6 floors via single car entry arrangement
  5. SELCOM AC-VF belt driven Vector controlled MIDI Plus door operating systems with Hydra series brushed satin stainless steel framed glass panels.
  6. SAD WSG Servo-gearless AC synchronous permanent magnet machines
  7. Kollmorgen MPK400 DPC4 SERIAL microprocessor control systems
  8. High resolution TFT display systems and Dewhurst LED dual illuminate micro movement Jumbo series control fixtures

Further to the above The entire Library and Town Hall project required ANSA to deliver a comprehensive
BTG refurbishment and modernisation of ;


1 x Simplex 1000Kg, 8 stop Goods Lift, 13 person, 1.0m/s complete with conversion to new configuration incorporating 180º dual car entry arrangement inclusive of all requisite works to facilitate designated evacuation use under BS9999 and EN81-72.

1 x Bespoke access platform

Town Hall


3 x Duplex pairs of 10 stops, 10 person, 2.5m/s passenger lifts complete with bespoke car interiors meeting English Heritage specified criteria.

1 x Simplex 10 stop, 10 person, 2.5m/s passenger lift complete with bespoke car interiors meeting
English Heritage specified criteria.

1 x Simplex 1000Kg Goods Lift, 13 person, 1.0m/s complete with conversion to Selcom Hydra Plus

2 x New installations of 17 person twin ram hydraulic passenger lifts serving 3 levels linking the Town
Hall to the City Library Complex.

2 x Bespoke Access Platforms to accommodate barrier free access throughout the rear of house facilities.




The entire 16 lift contract completed on time and on budget and serves to secure a first class state of the building transportation service within the confines of a Grade 2 listed building.

With continued National expansion  ANSA Elevators are proud to have followed in the footsteps of Etchells  Congden & Muir. We wonder  whether the future generations  of Manchester Lift Engineers will have the privilege  of working on such  a prestigious projects 80 years from now?


Biographical Details


John Bentley is managing director and founder of ANSA Elevators Ltd. (In 1996).  He has spent 36 years in the lift industry and also worked with Etchells Congdon & Muir, Hammond & Champnes and States of Jersey.  He served as a lift engineer and is a NEBOSH Qualified Tech IOSH.  Bentley has also presented to and been an active member of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineer Lift Group for several years.