Manchester Wellbeing

Have you noticed these unusual things around campus?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Last week we asked you to take notice of the various things that were put up around campus to raise awareness of the Six Ways to Wellbeing. This week, we’ve been having a look at some of the more unusual things around campus or stuff that tends to go unnoticed as we see it every day (plus a lot of us at Student News love a bit of Manchester history). So here’s a somewhat short history of things around campus you may have missed.

1.The University Coat of Arms

We start with a bit of a long one, but we thought the history of the coat of arms was too interesting to shorten, so please bear with us. (The following information is taken from the University Archives).

In 2014 the Victoria University of Manchester merged with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), and the new coat of arms was created from the old two institutions crest which can still be seen across campus.

Victoria University of Manchester – Coat of Arms

This crest can be found on the side of the Christie Building outside in the Old Quad, and in a mosaic in the floors of the old visitor centre (if you turn right underneath the Whitworth archway). The coat of arms is made up of a shield of white with a green knotted serpent; the top portion of the shield is blue, with a rising sun of gold. Above the shield is a helmet proper to impersonal arms with decorative mantling. The helmet is surmounted by a crest which consists of two laurel branches in front of a palm tree, from which hangs a white shield with a red rearing lion.

The origin of the serpent has become something of a mystery over the years (and no, it’s not because the founder of the University was Salazar Slytherin). It’s generally regarded as the symbol of wisdom; however the real origin of the serpent was taken from the crest of the Duke of Devonshire, the first President of Owens College which became the Victorian University. The sun in the shield is reflects the students aspirations to enlightenment – rising above the clouds of ignorance.

The two branches and palm tree in the crest are taken as tokens of the honoured memory of John Owens, and the palm tree is a homage to Owens’ career as a merchant.

UMIST – Coat of Arms

This crest shows a shield of red with three gold bandlets corresponding to the city of Manchester arms. Above the bandlets is a blue chief with a book with gold bees either side. The book symbolises study and theory and the bees signify industry as in the city crest. The chief thus indicates the alliance of theory and practice in science and industry. Above the shield is the closed helm in proper arms, with its decorative mantling in the Manchester colours, red and gold. From a crown of Lancastrian roses rises the gold lion, supporter of the city arms.

The University of Manchester – Coat of Arms

Created in 2004 the new University of Manchester crest merged the old crests of the two previous institutions. The new coat of arms includes elements from the two legacy universities. As in the UMIST crest there is a lion rising from a crown with roses. A sun appearing on blue is taken from the Victoria University shield and symbolises growing enlightenment. The bees on the new shield mark the University’s connection to the city, and the present University’s colours of Manchester purple and yellow are used throughout.

2. The Glacial Giant

The large boulder weighing over 20 tonnes is a glacial boulder. It was found 28 feet underground, just south of the University at the  site that is now the junction of Oxford Road and Devas Street. It was found during an excavation that was probably for a tramway or sewer installation around 1900. The boulder is composed of andesite from Borrowdale in the Lake District and was carried to Manchester by the last glacial period to affect this region about 20,000 years ago.

3. Brick by Brick

The Schunk Building was originally built in Kersal, Salford but was relocated onto the University campus when it was left to the University by its owner Dr. Henry Edward Schunk a noted chemist. The laboratory was moved carefully demolished and rebuilt on the University site, and flipped to be a mirror image of itself. Rumour has it; it was moved brick by brick.

4. The German Church

Located on the Grass Quad, between the Samuel Alexander Building and the Main Library the Stephen Joseph Studio was once a German place of worship, to cater for Manchester’s large German population in the 19th Century. The site in which the church stands was originally the property of the Dutch Protestant Church. The German Church was founded in 1855 and was popular place of worship, as it was similar to many English Protestant Churches. In 1871 The German Church purchased the building as a permanent place of worship and it remained an important centre for the German Church in Britain. However, during the outbreak of war in 1914, the pastor Mr Kramer was called back to Germany and the remaining congregation of around 300-350 regular worshipers dispersed. The church never fully recovered for wartime disruption. It’s now used for seminars and a rehearsal spot for drama students.

5. Going green

The living wall, on the side of the Schuster Building covers a space 50m2 and uses a mix of colourful and hardy perennial plants – some of which have been specifically chosen to attract pollinating insects. This eye-catching living wall is the first to be installed on campus and is made up of a supporting structure, growing material and an irrigation system to allow plants to flourish.

6. Walkways

Ever noticed the glass square in the side of the Kilburn Building on Oxford Road? There used to be a walkway there connecting the Kilburn Building to the old Maths tower, where University Place now sits. There were actually many pedestrian walkways planned connecting campus buildings along Oxford Road, however these plans to build them were scrapped. To think Manchester could have had its very own New York style High Line.

7. Disappearing rivers

We all know Manchester has a lot of canals, but did you know there River Medlock disappears at the John Garside Building? The river ran through the site which is now North Campus. It used to be one of Manchester’s most important industrial sites, housing a large amount of high density buildings. To access more water, tunnels were built underground so residents could take advantage of the high water board levels. The University built North Campus on top of the river, meaning the river runs underneath the University and is cut off on Google Maps.

8. The swimming pool that never was

*Disclaimer – so we can’t actually verify this one, but apparently the gym in the Sackville Street Building was originally supposed house a swimming pool. Rumour has it a pool was planned for the top floor but, after worries that the weight of water might cause structural issues it was instead used as a gymnasium and in more recent years as an examination hall.

(Oh, the irony that the engineers for the engineering building forgot about the weight of water!)

9. Legendary Trees

Up in North Campus there are six apple trees that are scions of the “Flower of Kent” tree at Grantham under which Sir Issac Newton is said to have conceived his Theory of Gravitation. So maybe this semester if you’re looking for your Eurkea! moment go hang out under the trees.

So that’s our history of the unusual things around campus we don’t always notice. There are plenty of other interesting heritage stories of the campus, including a trail of commemorative plaques on buildings across campus – which can be found in the back (page 36-37) of the “Portraits from our past” publication. This semester remember to take the time to notice your surroundings and the unusual things around campus. What’s your favourite thing about the University that may go unnoticed?

To find out more about Take Notice and the Universities Six Ways to Wellbeing look on the Student Support website.