Papers of the Manchester Reform Club

Archive Collection

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.

Conditions Governing Access

MRC2/6/5-7 and MRC3/2/3 are not available to the public until dates given in the catalogue.

This finding aid may contain personal or sensitive personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The John Rylands University Library (JRUL) has the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately, according to the Data Protection Principles.

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