Inside the Toast Rack – Manchester landmark time forgotten

On Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield, there are only a few buildings that really stand out. While the tower may sway in the wind, The Toast Rack certainly catches more attention.

For Matthew Holmes, The Derelict Explorer, the building was to be examined.

The Hollings Campus – or Toast Rack building, so named because of the extensive arches of its distinctive appearance, has been part of the South Manchester skyline since 1960.

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The toast stand was designed by Leonard Cecil Howitt and was originally built for Domestic Trades College before it became part of Manchester Polytechnic, now Manchester Metropolitan University.

The building has been listed in Class II since 1998 and has been under development since it was closed by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2013.

This year, on a hot, sunny day in June, Matthew was allowed to explore Toast Rack and photograph the crumbs left over.

Light rays heat up the abandoned corridors

His photographs have led him to follow on social media, where fans of the work commemorate and discuss memories from the heyday of the featured building.

When talking about why he explores abandoned buildings, Matthew said:

“For me, it is the story of it, it is the building itself that is important.

“So if I can highlight and showcase the building in the best way I can, then more people can be remembered.

“It can connect to more people, and I think, especially at a time when so many people have memory loss and Alzheimer’s and that kind of problem, if I can just bring a memory back to one of those people, then have I really did my job. “

Despite usually focusing on buildings that are before World War II, Matthew was attracted to the Toast Rack building because of its iconic shape.

He said: “It was really a little weird, because normally I would go to before World War II, you know, going back from the 1940s in terms of building age and architecture and design.

“But there was just something about Toast Rack that stood out. It was a very unique design, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

A disused laboratory that reflects the iconic arches
A disused laboratory that reflects the iconic arches

Matthews photographs of Toast Rack have garnered more than 600 comments on Facebook with people remembering their time spent studying in the iconic building.

Matthew says that the response and memories that people have about the buildings he photographs are the driving force behind his explorations.

“That’s a big part of why I explore,” he said. “It’s one thing to go to the building and experience it, but it’s another thing to hear [people’s] experiences because it tells the story.

“I do so much research, it probably takes about a week and a half to research the history of each building, so when I stand in there, I know, or I have an idea of ​​what this space could have been, or what the use of The building was.

“It just brings me a little bit closer, so when I upload the exploration and people tell me their stories, their families’ stories, maybe their grandparents work there, or they went there as a kid at some point, the story fills up. that building a little bit more.

“It brings it all together. It’s the biggest buzz I get from exploring.”

A commenter on Facebook said: “Wonderful building. Fantastic memories of doing my catering courses there.”

Another said, “I read Hotel and Catering Management here. We were HotCats. It is such an iconic building.

“The egg yolk housed the training and we served meals to people who got a great deal.

“Good memories. It’s so unfortunate that it’s no longer in use. Thank God for being listed,” they said, adding, “I left in 1990. The lab kitchens were so flooded with natural light. A great place to work. . “

The iconic bows, ready to keep your toast buttery
The iconic arches of the Toast Rack building

The poached egg section of the toast rack was once the library on Hollings Campus and then the kitchens and canteen.

It now houses The Gym Fallowfield and opened in March 2018.

Matthew experienced a completely different feeling when walking around the Toast Rack than he has in other abandoned buildings he has explored.

“The windows there are floor to ceiling in most rooms and it was just such a warm performance to go through it. It was such a soothing, lovely, lovely exploration,” he said.

“But with the toast stand, it was just that the sun was just shining through the window on every single floor, and that was the one thing I remember when I got away and thought it was one of the most wonderful explorations I have. done because there was just so much heat in the building.

“It felt like it was still open in a way.”

Matthew’s favorite photograph from this collection is one of an empty lecture hall.

An empty lecture where many learned their subjects
An empty lecture where many learned their subjects

“The about 10 rows of empty chairs in a lecture hall, you know for me that I don’t just see empty seats, I see the seats people sat in, and people learned their subjects, and they learned what they were studying.

“Even though it collects dust, it’s a very echo space that was once filled with noise and people and a teacher who gave a lecture and all the happy moments and emotions that we all take away from university and take away from college and school.

“A lot of people experienced it in one room, and you know, today it’s just completely empty – lifeless.”

The toast rack and the associated buildings are to be converted into homes, with the potential for shops included in the proposed development.

The rest of Matthew’s photos of Toast Rack and other iconic buildings can be seen on his Facebook page: The abandoned explorer.

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