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Manchester Central railway station is a former railway station in Manchester City Centremarker, Englandmarker. One of Manchestermarker's main railway terminals between 1880 and 1969, it now houses an exhibition and conference centre named Manchester Centralmarker.


The station was built between 1875 and 1880 by the Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC), and was officially opened on 1 July 1880. The architect was Sir John Fowler and the engineers were Richard Johnson, Andrew Johnston and Charles Sacré for the three companies which formed the CLC.

While the main station was being built a temporary facility called Manchester Free Trade Hall Station (after a landmark buildingmarker nearby) was in use from 9 September 1877. This consisted of two wooden platforms serving four tracks. When Central opened the temporary station was converted to become Manchester Central Goods.

Construction details

The train shed is covered by a huge wrought-iron single-span arched roof, spanning , long and high at the highest point. It was constructed by Andrew Handyside and Co.. The substructure and masonry partition were provided by Robert Neill and Sons of Manchester. The roof was originally covered with a mixture of slate and glass. Underneath the train shed there is a large brick undercroft with intersecting tunnel vaults. This was used for storage and was connected to the adjacent goods sidings by a carriage lift.

A wooden building was erected at the front of the station, housing ticket offices, waiting rooms and so on. This was planned to be a temporary structure, to be replaced by a grander edifice, for example a hotel and railway offices as at London St Pancrasmarker, but the provisional construction remained in use until the station closed. The Midland Hotelmarker was built by the Midland Railway in 1898-1903 on an adjacent site.

Railway usage

Manchester railways 1910
Midland lines
The Midland Railway, one of the CLC's partners, at last had a secure Manchester terminus for its services, including its expresses to London St Pancrasmarker. Beginning in 1938, it ran two prestige expresses, The Palatine and the Peaks, the former stopping en routeat Chinleymarker, Millers Dalemarker, Matlockmarker, Derbymarker and Leicestermarker.

Between 1960 and 15 April 1966, during the electrification of the West Coast Main Linemarker, Central Station was the terminus for the Midland Pullman, a streamlined blue six-coach diesel multiple unit. This stopped only at Cheadle Heathmarker (now closed), before running fast to St Pancras.

Services through Millers Dale finished in 1968 when the line was closed. The station continued to provide local services for a while, but finally closed to passengers on 5 May 1969, when remaining services were switched to Manchester Piccadilly stationmarker.

Post-railway era

Dereliction and redevelopment

Central Station car park (1980)

For over a decade, Central Station fell into a dilapidated state and was used as a car park. The property was eventually acquired by Greater Manchester Council and in 1982 work began on converting the abandoned building into an exhibition centre, which opened in 1986 as the Greater Manchester Exhibition and Conference Centre ("G-Mex") (later renamed Manchester Central in honour of its railway history). The undercroft was converted into a car park, serving also Bridgewater Hallmarker nearby.

The advent of light rail

A Metrolink tram (1992)
The opening in 1992 of the Metrolink light rail system has seen the conversion of suburban heavy rail lines such as the former Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway to Altrincham, and there are further proposals to re-open the disused Cheshire Lines Committee route via Didsburymarker. With the introduction of Metrolink, rail services from south Manchester run once more to Central Station. However, instead of trains running into the Central Station arch, light rail vehicles now cross the railway viaduct and stop at G-Mex Metrolink stationmarker. They then run down a ramp which runs parallel to Lower Mosley Street, alongside the south-eastern side of the former train shed, before reaching street level where they operate as trams and head towards St Peter's Squaremarker.


Image:Manchester Central Station 1.jpg|Derelict station in 1981Image:Manchester Central Station 2.jpg|Derelict platformsImage:Manchester Central Station 3.jpg|Platform detailImage:Manchester Central Station 4.jpg|Inside the derelict stationImage:Manchester Central Station 5.jpg|Looking towards the platformsImage:Manchester Central Station 6.jpg|GMEX Centre in 2007File:Manchester central 1894.jpg|1894 map showing the location of Central Station

See also


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