Formerly the main banking area for Manchester and the North-West, King Street has the greatest concentration of bees on different buildings of anywhere within the city centre. Starting at the bottom where the road connects to Deansgate and facing uphill, the building on the left is the Grade II listed 53 King Street, formerly home to Lloyds Bank. Designed by Charles Heathcote, it opened in 1915. It’s the side of the building facing King Street that’s of interest, in particular the stained glass window on the corner. Best seen from the inside, clearly visible at the centre top of the design is a bee hive. This part of the building is now home to a Zizzi restaurant, which has been decorated with bee designs running along its walls, and hexagonal tiles around its bar area.
Walking up the street, other bees are visible outside Ship Canal House, as part of the coat of arms of the Manchester Ship Canal Company. The arms feature an amalgamation of elements from both Manchester’s and Salford’s coat of arms, with bees visible both flying over the globe and also in the lower left quadrant.
At the top of the street we find 53 Spring Gardens. Now home to Rosso Restaurant, the building was original built for Lancashire & Yorkshire Bank in 1890 by Heathcote & Rawle. Looking up on high, we can see the coat of arms of Salford featuring seven bees, though you need to be sharp-eyed to see them.
Finally, to the right is 100 King Street, formerly home to Midland Bank but now housing a Jamie Oliver’s Italian. Grade II listed, the building was designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1928 and constructed between 1933 and 1935. It’s the Spring Gardens side of the building that draws our attention, as above the entranceway to what is now Hotel Gotham are both the globe and seven bees from the Manchester coat of arms, and above that a beehive and three bees surrounded by flowers.
I’m curious about the appearance of beehives on two of these buildings. Where beehives appear on other buildings in the city, there’s been a link to either the Co-Operative movement or Oddfellows Friendly Society. However, there doesn’t appear to be one between the two groups and the banks that built the buildings. I haven’t found out the answer yet, but if you have information, I’d be interested to find out.