The Bossa Nova Club

What and where?

City Buildings, the old Cathedral Day School and the Cathedral Female Charity School. An island site of three distinct buildings behind Urbis, next to Victoria Station and bounded by the tramlines, Corporation Street, Long Millgate and Todd Street.

What's the condition?

A right mess; part demolished following a fire and completely abandoned. The site is owned by Maghull Developments from Liverpool, which doesn't have two brass coins to rub together and has caused controversy with schemes in our architecturally rich near-neighbour. A plan to demolish and replace with a mix of car park, retail, offices and residential uses seems dead in the water.and residential uses seems dead in the water.

When was the building put up ?

Hard to say exactly. The ruin on Todd Street, now consisting of a low wall surmounted by hoardings, is the only one where the architect seems traceable. This was the Cathedral Day School for boys and built by the Church of England to provide education for a small fee to the male kids in what was becoming a grossly over crowded slum area.

It was finished in 1832 by Richard Lane. Lane also designed the Friends Meeting House on Mount Street and the Town Halls at Chorlton-on-Medlock (All Saints, now part of the MMU) and at Salford (now the Magistrates Court). He was also the man who tutored Alfred Waterhouse, the architect of Manchester Town Hall. The smaller brick building, more recently a post office, was the Cathedral Female Charity School from around 1835, and also by Lane (probably), in a similar Tudor Gothic style to the first building. It performed the same function for girls as the earlier school. The curriculum would no doubt have been different, preparing those girls for wifedom and motherhood.

And City buildings?

Puzzle this one. The architectural guides all ignore it; God alone knows why it deserves this, it's not that bad. The main architectural guide by Clare Hartwell in the Pevsner Architectural Series completely cold shoulders it. Others say it's late Victorian and built as offices and shops. I agree with latter but given the style would probably put it 1860s, 1870s, in a vaguely French Gothic style, especially where it turns the corner and has the fancy metalwork and the clock gable. The architect is elusive. Given the solid stone if uncompromising design it looks like City Buildings should be in a West Yorkshire town, Halifax or Huddersfield, rather than Manchester. Appropriately Victoria Station was operated by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Did a Yorkshire architect have an away day in Manchester?

There's a nice bit of streetscape looking down Todd Street towards Victoria Station with the empty clock of City Building echoed by the still functioning clock of the station.

What have been the subsequent uses of the building ?

All sort of mad stuff has gone on here. The Cathedral Day School on Todd Street for instance hosted Club El Bossa Nova in the fifties and sixties featuring 'Victor Bullock's Broadcasting Quartet' and 'Spanish roulette'. It also housed one of the very first Chinese restaurants in the city, the Chung Ying.

Following Club El Bossa Nova, came the Top Cat Club. As a sixteen year old on the hunt for an illegal drink I can remember getting some gassy ale there with some mates on the way back to Rochdale. It was a shocker with sticky carpets and that rank smell of damp. We'd gone in not just for the drink but for the advertised stripper - turned out she wasn't on that afternoon. Not sure the original owners, the Cathedral, would have approved of such entertainments. If the stripper had been on we'd probably have run a mile.

Rats and Filth?

Ah yes, a bit of historical continuity. There's a notice on the buildings, pictured here from the City telling the owners, said Maghull Developments, to clean the place up to get rid of the rats and mice. This is 2009 calling. Look in the old Court Leet records from October 1552 and we get this. "A burgess who has a field in Toad Lane (the old name for Todd Street) has allowed the ditch to become unpleasant, and he is therefore admonished to sklannse (clean) it". Plus can change across four hundred and fifty two years. Genius. Todd Street is one of the oldest streets in Manchester, with Long Millgate, Cateaton Street, Fennel Street, Hunt's Bank, Hanging Ditch and Deansgate. So the graffiti is very fitting.

Graffiti ?

The Banksy style-stencil on City Buildings shown below. 'Forever Temporary'. A particularly apt tag given the millennium-plus human occupation of this site and the changes its witnessed. This is graffiti as art, carrying a meaning far deeper than that on the surface. Someone put it in an art gallery.

All information and gratitude to Jonathan Schofield c/o Manchesterconfidential

Don Patric Albert Chic Taylor

I thought Chick Taylor was the owner of the Bossa Nova and Top Cat Club, are you him or his son. My mates and I worked at the CIS when we left school, and I thought it was great round there with all the old buildings. A lady called Barbara (maybe Chick's wife) also owned/managed the club.

I also remember Ralph's Records and a brilliant arcade of old interesting stalls somewhere close (or even attached) to Victoria Station.


June Hulstone

Went there in the sixties and seventies a few times - great strippers and Gary Nash - good pal and great singer still working the clubs - he parks his zimmer outside.

Stuart Brown aka Wilson

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Comments (9)

Topic: The Bossa Nova Club
Paul Ross says...
We used to go to Chicos about 1972 as we went to Stoneground on Hyde Road first to watch some rock bands then end up at Chicos about 12 or 1 to check the strippers out. It was highly amusing as many time we saw a srtipper with a boa constricted ... Read More
1st April 2014 9:54pm
al showman says...
I used to book strippers and other acts at the Bossa Nova in the 60s, plus appearing there myself. The owner was Benny Sternbergh who was related to Herman (Peter Noon), Chick was the bouncer, we were very close even shared the dock at court when ... Read More
17th July 2014 1:51pm
george says...
Hi my dad worked the door there do u remember him. He also was called George a stocky fella from wythenshawe. Get baking in touch please thanks George
24th November 2014 4:45am
Tim says...
Oh yes, I remember El Bosa Nova! Owned by Graham Bramley it was an 'interesting place'! I was an out of work DJ and was lucky enough to work there as a dealer in 1966, mainly on the 3 card Brog table. I was paid 7/6d a night plus a shilling ... Read More
3rd August 2014 8:15pm
Alan Crossley says...
I vaguely remember going to the Bossa Nova Club with my father Don Crossley one Saturday morning, around 1961 - 1962, when I was eleven or twelve years old. I remember lobster pots and netting on the ceiling. Another name I seem to remember is a guy ... Read More
1st December 2014 9:50pm
Don Patric Albert ChicTaylor says...
Hi again, Yes i am Chic's Son, Don,Or should i say one of them as i have other siblings Brothers and Sisters,Just thought i jot a quick message relating to My Dad and if he was or was'nt the owner of the Club Known as, El Bossa Nova,Or The ... Read More
1st September 2015 7:45am
Justme says...
A touching account of your experiences as father and son. Cherish those memories spent with your father, you are very lucky. not every child is so fortunate
20th September 2015 11:10am
Tammy Tushingham nee Bramley (Peterborough) says...
Hi Just to say I a Graham Bramley's daughter and I remember v clearly everyone talking about Chic and how fabulous he was. My father was very fond of him. Unfortunately Graham recently died on 24th Aug 2017 at Stepping Hill Hospital - so ... Read More
6th September 2017 5:51am

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