March 1, 2013 (Source: Manchester Evening News) — Workers preparing a multi-million pound science facility have uncovered the remains of a Victorian club whose clients included Fredrich Engels.
Scientists hope the £61m National Graphene Institute will put Britain at the forefront of research into the new material. Now a team preparing the way at the Booth Street East site have discovered the foundations of the 19th Century Albert Club – which entertained the great and good across the city.
The government-funded centre will be the new home to Nobel prize winners Andre Geim and Kostya Noveselov, the Manchester University academics who pioneered graphene in 2004.
It will be built on land opposite the Manchester Aquatics centre.
Archaeologists carrying out preparation work uncovered a row of cellars from 1830s terraced houses and the remains of the club, named after Prince Albert and frequented by middle-class Germans.
Engels is known to have become a member in 1842, when he was dispatched to Manchester to manage his father’s textile factory. Appalled by poverty and slum conditions, he went on to write the Communist Manifesto with his friend Karl Marx.
Archaeologists say they have always known the location of the gentleman’s club underneath the site, previously known as Lawson Street.
But they were surprised by the surviving elements they were able to find, including fragments of ornate stone columns.
Professor Novoselov, who has salvaged an intact sink which he hopes to use in the new building, said he was immensely proud the pioneering centre would be built on the Industrial Revolution foundations.
He said: “We have been very careful to record these remnants of the Industrial Revolution and we will look to keep some artefacts for use in the new building or elsewhere.
“It is genuinely exciting to start work on such a significant research institute on such an important site.”
The archaeological team unearthed the cobbled streets as part of the building process for the new 7,600 sq m building.
Diana Hampson, the university’s director of estates, said: “We have been advised that the remains we have uncovered are not hugely significant in archaeological terms, but are fascinating nonetheless.”