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8th September 2016
4 minutes

Look inside the 19th century warehouse

Look inside the 19th-century warehouse which you could live in – as a developer, Stephen Beech seeks permission to restore the warehouse from the industrial revolution’s golden age.

These images give a fascinating glimpse of a Grade II listed shipping warehouse that has lain largely untouched for nearly 70 years. Number 2 Waterloo Street in the city centre is one of three buildings which used to form Transact House, a factory and packing warehouse built-in 1880. Like a brick-built time machine, it allows an incredible insight into the golden age of the industrial revolution. On the upper floors, you can even still see the markings of clogs in the floorboards, left by the packers who toiled here.

Bulky trusses, an old carriage passenger lift with iron grates and mechanism, fireplaces, exposed ceilings, huge windows and brickwork forge the charm of this forgotten gem.

Developer Stephen Beech inside Number 2 Waterloo Street

Following the 1920s cotton slump, the warehouse, like many across the city and city centre, was left vacant. A Chinese accountant used the ground floor and basement as an office in the fifties, but access to the upper levels was sealed so the majority of the seven-tier site was left untouched – until now.

Number 2 Waterloo Street – how it used to look

Step in developer Stephen Beech, founder of Beech Holdings, plans to sympathetically restore the building after buying it for £890,000. Planning permission-permitting, he will invest £1.2m on its transformation into 15 affordable apartments – eight one-bed, three studios, two Duplex and four two-beds.

Stephen’s keen to emphasise that a bulk of that budget will go on restoration, in a bid to preserve its history for future generations.

Urmston -born Stephen, whose firm takes unloved buildings in prime Manchester locations and develops them into apartments, said: “If this building wasn’t bought now it would just be allowed to crumble and decay.

The imprints of clogs on the floor of Number 2 Waterloo Street

“I love the character of buildings like this – it’s about retaining them because once they are gone, they are gone.

“We lost a lot of these in the seventies and there are going to be less and less in the future.”

The building is also draughty and energy-inefficient – but Stephen will jump those hurdles with the latest technology to create carbon-neutral homes.

He added: “WE can marry the old and the new and the two can work in perfect harmony for future generations to be enjoyed.Number 2 Waterloo Street in Manchester

Stephen freely accepts this is also a business proposition, adding: “I’m a businessman, there’s a value associated with this and people will pay to live here.

“But I get a big buzz to know I’ve got my hands on this and I can preserve it for future generations.

“I think it’s a shame when some developers beat me to it and see it from a strictly commercial point of view. They cover up the history in a build that’s as cheap as possible to make a quick profit.

“The difference is I’m in it for the long game and by spending 30 per cent more than the traditional developer I will get that back in the long run.”

Artist’s impression of the redevelopment of Number 2 Waterloo Street

“The property will always be in demand because I’m preserving the heritage, making it attractive to tenants with tall ceilings and light.”

Stephen, who owns 17 significant Manchester city-centre buildings, and 100 across Greater Manchester, says there is already a waiting list.

The building is up for planning on August 25 with a goal to complete the renovation in 2017.

Artist’s impression of the redevelopment of Number 2 Waterloo Street

Last month the company submitted plans to marry two prominent Manchester city centre listed buildings together and create a 4,500 sq ft park on top.

Mindel House and neighbouring 11 Bloom Street are both Victorian brick-built former warehouses that have lain empty for a number of years. Beech holdings will convert them into 78 carbon-neutral apartments.

If plans are granted, a massive piece of street art of the late Tony Wilson and designed by a famous artist will feature on one side of Mindel House.

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