I was delighted to read the news this week that planning permission has been granted to turn the Royal Insurance Building on the corner of Dale Street and North John Street into a luxury hotel. Of course, planning permission does not guarantee action but it seems as if this is a genuine application.
The building is one of the city centre’s neglected gems. It has stood empty for well over a decade and has begun to look tired and neglected. The architect J Francis Doyle worked closely with his friend and colleague Norman Shaw (architect of the White Star Building). The building is a particularly early example of steel frame construction in this country, further proof, if any was needed, of the innovative architecture taking place in the city.
I have a couple of contemporary photographs from the building’s opening in 1903. The first is of the Board Room, which has all the grandeur that an international company required. The last photograph is of a rain butt, which shows again the attention to detail now so sadly lacking in most of today’s buildings.