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David Bellhouse

David Bellhouse

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David Bellhouse was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 who did much to shape Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, both physically and socially.

Born in Leeds
Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

, Bellhouse received no formal education. An autodidact, he taught himself to read and write and the elements of arithmetic and technical drawing
Technical drawing
Technical drawing, also known as drafting or draughting, is the act and discipline of composing plans that visually communicate how something functions or has to be constructed.Drafting is the language of industry....

. In 1786, he moved to Manchester where he married Mary Wainwright and took up employment as a joiner
A joiner differs from a carpenter in that joiners cut and fit joints in wood that do not use nails. Joiners usually work in a workshop since the formation of various joints generally requires non-portable machinery. A carpenter normally works on site...

 with the building firm of Thomas Sharp. Sharp died in 1803 and his family had little appetite for the business so it was acquired by Bellhouse.

During the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 there was a mass movement of workers towards Manchester to take up employment in the cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

Spinning (textiles)
Spinning is a major industry. It is part of the textile manufacturing process where three types of fibre are converted into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. The textiles are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts. There are three industrial processes available to spin yarn, and a...

 and textile industry
Textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution changed the nature of work and society. Opinion varies as to the exact date, but it is estimated that the First Industrial Revolution took place between 1750 and 1850, and the second phase or Second Industrial Revolution between 1860 and 1900. The three key drivers in...

. This created a demand for cheap housing and Bellhouse and his partners were among several tradesmen builders who made their fortunes in property speculation. From the early nineteenth century, Bellhouse expanded into the construction of complete factories
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 and into work as a surveyor and valuer.

His firm enjoyed the sole contracts for the erection of several public buildings including the Portico Library
Portico Library
The Portico Library on Mosley Street, Manchester is a subscription library built in the Greek Revival style between 1802-1806. It is a Grade II* listed building as at 25 February 1952....

 and the old Town Hall in King Street.

Bellhouse was active in Manchester cultural life being a founder member of the Portico Library and the Royal Manchester Institution
Royal Manchester Institution
The Royal Manchester Institution was an English learned society founded on 1 October 1823 at a public meeting held in the Exchange Room by Manchester merchants, local artists and others keen to dispel the image of Manchester as a city lacking in culture and taste.The Institution was housed in a...

, now the Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester Art Gallery is a publicly-owned art gallery in Manchester, England. It was formerly known as Manchester City Art Gallery.The gallery was opened in 1824 and today occupies three buildings, the oldest of which - designed by Sir Charles Barry - is Grade I listed and was originally home to...

. Bellhouse and his wife supported many social and charitable causes, especially for workers' education, and Bellhouse was one of the founders of the Manchester Mechanics' Institute (fore-runner of UMIST
The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology was a university based in the centre of the city of Manchester in England. It specialised in technical and scientific subjects and was a major centre for research...


In 1824, he was elected one of the Police Commissioners who comprised Manchester's local government, making use of the office in furthering his building enterprise. He held the post until 1832.

Bellhouse and his wife had five sons who continued the family building trade.

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