Papers of the Manchester Reform Club

  • Reference
      GB 133 MRC
  • Dates of Creation
      1886-1987
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English
  • Physical Description
      7.4 li.m.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

The archives of the Manchester Reform Club have been arranged into six subgroups: committee records, 1886-1981 (MRC1); financial papers, 1904-1979 (MRC2); membership records, 1887-1983 (MRC3); records relating to the Reform Club building, 1910-1972 (MRC4); other records, 1887-1953 (MRC5); and papers of the Manchester Club, successor to the Manchester Reform Club, 1971-1987 (EMC).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Manchester Reform Club was established in 1867 with the object of providing a place of resort for Liberal politicians and supporters of the Liberal cause in the Manchester area. It was not a political club in the strictest sense, though its members were undoubtedly politically active in the cause of Liberalism, and Liberal views were a pre-requisite of membership. Rather, it was a club for Liberal gentlemen (women were not admitted as members until the 1980s). Its original home was in three rented rooms above the warehouse of John Bright & Brothers in Spring Gardens, but it soon became apparent that these premises were inadequate for the rapidly growing membership. Within a year of its establishment the Manchester Reform Club Building Company had been formed to establish a permanent home for the new Club. A site was purchased in King Street and a local architect, Edward Salomons, appointed to design the building. Work progressed rapidly and the building was completed in October 1871, opening shortly afterwards.

In many ways the history of the Manchester Reform Club reflects that of the Liberal Party at large. For example the splits in the Liberal Party caused by Gladstone's support for Irish Home Rule in 1886 and those between Asquithian Liberals and Lloyd George Coalition Liberals were reflected in the membership, as can be seen in the Clubs General and Political Committee minute books. However, despite the divisions which from time to time affected the Liberal Party, the Manchester Reform Club continued strongly in its primary function, that of a place of resort for those of Liberal views. The situation began to change however soon after the end of the Second World War.

In many ways the history of the Manchester Reform Club reflects that of the Liberal Party at large. For example the splits in the Liberal Party caused by Gladstone's support for Irish Home Rule in 1886 and those between Asquithian Liberals and Lloyd George Coalition Liberals were reflected in the membership, as can be seen in the Clubs General and Political Committee minute books. However, despite the divisions which from time to time affected the Liberal Party, the Manchester Reform Club continued strongly in its primary function, that of a place of resort for those of Liberal views. The situation began to change however soon after the end of the Second World War.The Manchester Reform Club was essentially a gentleman's club founded in the age of Victoria and in this respect it changed little over the years, while the outside world moved on, and such clubs began to fall from fashion. Membership started to fall, slowly at first, but by the late 1950s membership had declined to such an extent that the Club was facing the real prospect of closure. In an attempt to avoid this, in 1967 the Manchester Reform Club merged with another Manchester gentleman's club, the Engineers Club, to form the Manchester Club, losing much of its political nature in the process. However it proved to be too little too late, membership continued to decline while running costs rose and with insufficient income from its membership the Club became financially unviable, and was finally forced to close its doors in 1987.

Access Information

MRC2/6/7 is closed until the end of 2023.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3EH.

Bibliography

For more information on the foundation and early years of the Club see W.H. Mills (ed.) The Manchester Reform Club 1871-1921: a survey of Fifty Years' History (Manchester:1922) [R130436].

Corporate Names

Geographical Names