Manchester city centre

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Coordinates: 53°28′45″N 2°14′39″W / 53.479167°N 2.244167°W / 53.479167; -2.244167

Manchester city centre
Manchester from the Sky, 2008.jpg
Aerial view of Manchester city centre
Manchester city centre is located in Greater Manchester
Manchester city centre
Manchester city centre
 Manchester city centre shown within Greater Manchester
OS grid reference SJ839980
    - London  163 mi (262 km) SE 
Metropolitan borough Manchester
Metropolitan county Greater Manchester
Region North West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district M1 - M4
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament Manchester Central
List of places
Greater Manchester

Manchester city centre is the central business district of Manchester in North West England.

Manchester city centre lies within the boundaries of Market Street, the River Irwell, Peter Street and Portland Street.[1]

Manchester city centre evolved from the civilian vicus of the Roman fort of Mamucium, on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell.[2] This became the township of Manchester during the Middle Ages, and was the site of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.[3] Manchester was granted city status in 1853, after the Industrial Revolution, from which the city centre emerged as the global centre of the cotton trade which encouraged its "splendidly imposing commercial architecture" during the Victorian era,[4] such as the Royal Exchange, the Corn Exchange, the Free Trade Hall, and the Great Northern Warehouse.[3] After the decline of the cotton trade and the Manchester Blitz, the city centre suffered economic decline during the mid-20th century,[5] but the CIS Tower ranked as the tallest building in the UK when completed in 1962.[6]

The 1996 Manchester bombing provided the impetus for the redevelopment of the city centre,[7] fostering an upturn in retail, leisure, offices and urban living.[8][9][10]


Main article: History of Manchester
One of the boundary signs of the former township of Manchester on the banks of the Medlock

Manchester evolved from the civilian vicus associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium, which was established c. AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell, in a position defensible from the Brigantes.[2] Once the Romans had abandoned Britain, the focus of settlement shifted to the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Irk.[11] During the Dark Ages which followed – and persisted until the Norman Conquest – the settlement was in the territory of several different petty kingdoms.[12] In the Middle Ages, what is now the city centre was the township of Manchester.

Manchester Castle – a medieval fortification, probably taking the form of a ringwork – was located on a bluff where the rivers Irk and Irwell meet.[13] The castle was first mentioned in 1184 and recorded in 1215 as belonging to the barons of Manchester, the Grelley family.[14] It has been described as "of no political or military importance".[15] The Grelleys replaced the castle with a fortified manor house, which in turn was replaced by a college of priests (founded in 1421).[16] In 1547 the college was dissolved and the property acquired by the Earl of Derby and early in the reign of King Charles II it was sold to the governors who had been appointed in the will of Humphrey Chetham. By royal charter in 1665 Chetham's Hospital was established and this became Chetham's School of Music.[17]

Proposed changes[edit]

One Angel Square, the centrepiece of the NOMA development.
One St Peter's under construction in October 2012.

Manchester city centre is the commercial and cultural hub for 2.5 million people in the Greater Manchester region and new developments are forthcoming.

  • St Peters Square regeneration - St Peter's Square, home of Manchester Central Library, is set to undergo massive multi-million pound redevelopment which will include pedestrianising the square, redeveloping Elizabeth House (the current empty building opposite the Central Library), creation of a contemporary memorial to the 1819 Peterloo Massacre and refurbishing the Library.[18] A competition has been held to decide upon the new design of the square.[19] It has recently been suggested that the Cenotaph should be moved to make room for a further tram line.[20]
  • Manchester Victoria station - Manchester's second station after Piccadilly - it has been rated as one of the worst stations in the United Kingdom and known for its damaged roof since 1996. The station will undergo a modernisation program from 2013. A new ETFE roof covering the whole station will be constructed at a cost of £20 million while historical elements of the interior such as the tiled wall will be cleaned and preserved.
  • NOMA - The Co-op has embarked on one of its most challenging projects to date, as it aims to transform a 20-acre (81,000 m2) section of Manchester into a new retail, office and residential quarter, where its own new headquarters will be housed. The site will be branded "NOMA 53" in reference to "NOrth MAnchester" and the locations co-ordinates. The City Building will become the luxurious Hotel Indigo, which will include a Marco Pierre White restaurant and is set to open in autumn 2012. Two buildings on the corner of Corporation Street and Balloon Street to be converted into 106,000 sq ft (9,800 m2) of grade A office accommodation. Completion by second half of 2013.[21]
  • River Street Tower - a new 125 metre skyscraper, approved in October 2012 and designed by Ian Simpson. Construction is expected to start in 2013 and will become the second tallest building outside of London after the Beetham Tower - also in Manchester.

As of 2013, there are proposals to develop and extend the city centre northwards in an arc between Victoria and Piccadilly stations.[22]


Piccadilly Gardens, a green space in the city (view towards Market Street)

The city centre is variously called Central Manchester, the City Centre[23] or, as an electoral ward, Manchester Central.[24] It has also been defined as those parts of the city within the Manchester Inner Ring Road,[25] or else the entire area within Manchester's Inner Ring Road, thereby encompassing a part of the administratively separate City of Salford,[26] and an area of Oxford Road to the south.[27] Political and economic ties between the city centre and neighbouring Salford and Trafford have strengthened with the shift from town and district centres to metropolitan-level centres in England.[26][28] Manchester city centre is the commercial heart of Greater Manchester,[27][8][29] and with the adjoining parts of Salford and Trafford, is defined as Greater Manchester's "Regional Centre" for purposes of urban planning and public transport.[27][29][28][30][31]

  • The Northern Quarter is in the northwest (east of Victoria Station and northwest of Piccadilly Gardens) and is known as a hub for alternate and bohemian culture in Manchester.
  • The Central Retail District, which has been extensively redeveloped after the IRA bomb of 1996, contains Manchester Cathedral, Shambles Square, Exchange Square, Cathedral Gardens as well as shopping streets Market Street and King Street.
  • Spinningfields is an area in the west adjoining the middle part of Deansgate and the main financial district of the city.
  • Castlefield is an area in the extreme southwest between Deansgate and the River Irwell with the sites of the Roman fort and Liverpool Road Railway Station.
  • Piccadilly: the largest public square in the centre and the most important transport interchange. The area known as Piccadilly runs eastwards from the end of Market Street to a point where London Road begins: to the south of this are the gardens and paved areas.
  • Chinatown is an area to the south of Piccadilly Gardens with many oriental restaurants and other facilities of a far eastern character.
  • The Gay Village, based around Canal Street, is a part of the centre east of Portland Street and west of Whitworth Street through which runs the Rochdale Canal; it contains many bars, clubs and other facilities for the gay community.
  • Oxford Street is the main road running into the city centre from the south and home to both the cities Universities as well as a host of other cultural sites.


Central compared
2001 UK census Central[32] City of Manchester[33] England
Total population 11,689 392,819 49,138,831
White 82.0% 81.0% 91.0%
Asian 4.3% 9.1% 4.6%
Black 2.8% 4.5% 2.3%
Chinese or other 8.0% 2.7% 0.9%
Mixed 2.8% 3.2% 1.3%

At the 2001 UK census, the political ward of "Central", which covers an area of 2.14 square miles (5.54 km2), had a population of 11,689 with a population density of 5,460 inhabitants per square mile (2,108 /km2). While this was lower than the population density for the whole city (8,798 inhabitants per square mile (3,397 /km2)), the proportion of land dedicated to domestic buildings was lower in the ward than in the whole city (6.7% compared to 8.0%).[34] There was a female-to-male ratio of 100 to 113, much higher than the 100 to 95 ratio for all England.[35] Of those over 16 years old, 65.7% were single (never married), 13.7% married, and 8.7% divorced; this was significantly different from the national figures of 30.2% single, 43.5% married, and 8.2% divorced.[36] The ward's 6,188 households included 61.1% one-person, 8.6% married couples living together, 9.0% were co-habiting couples, and 12.4% single parents with their children; compared to national figures, there was a high proportion of single person households, and a low proportion of married couples living together.[37] Of those aged 16–74, 30.5% had no academic qualifications, lower than the figure for the City of Manchester (34.0%) but slightly above that of the whole of England (28.9%).[35] The ward had a significantly higher percentage of adults with a diploma or degree than the city or England as a whole. Of the ward's residents aged 16–74, 26.3% had an educational qualification such as first degree, higher degree, qualified teacher status, qualified medical doctor, qualified dentist, qualified nurse, midwife, or health visitor, compared to 21.4% in Manchester and 19.9% nationwide.[35]


Main article: Economy of Manchester
Manchester City Centre Skyline Christmas Eve 2010

Deansgate and Market Street are the centre's principal retail streets and King Street (with high-class shops) and St Ann's Square are known for their specialist fashion and other shops. There is also a large indoor shopping mall called the Manchester Arndale Centre. Manchester city centre has several large department stores including Marks and Spencer and Debenhams on Market Street, House of Fraser on Deansgate, Harvey Nichols on New Cathedral Street and Selfridges in Exchange Square. There are many leisure facilities in the city centre including the Printworks, a large facility containing a cinema (including an IMAX screen), numerous bars, clubs and restaurants and also Manchester's first Hard Rock Cafe. The Northern Quarter, centred around Oldham Street, is known for its Bohemian atmosphere and independent shops and cafes. The landscaping of the city centre has provided several public spaces including the newly developed Piccadilly Gardens, which incorporates fountains, green spaces, a concrete wall, and a Metrolink station (it has not been improved by the construction of an office block to the east). Exchange Square is located near Urbis, formerly an exhibition centre focusing on city life but now closed and due to re-open in mid-2011 as the National Football Museum. Both Piccadilly and Exchange Square are used for screening public events. Two of the city centre's oldest buildings, The Old Wellington Inn and Sinclair's Oyster Bar, were dismantled, moved 300 yards and re-erected in 1999 to create the new Shambles Square adjacent to Manchester Cathedral.[38]

There are other museums in Manchester city centre including the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefield which includes many hands-on exhibits and the People's History Museum.

There are a great variety of restaurants in the city centre including a number owned by Paul Heathcote the chef. There is also a good stock of hotels in the city centre which include the Midland, Jarvis Piccadilly and Ramada Renaissance.


Manchester city centre has many nightclubs, many of which follow in the footsteps of the Haçienda nightclub which has now closed; the site has been redeveloped as a housing complex. There is a gay village around the Canal Street area in the east of the city centre, which plays host to an annual Gay Pride Festival, and a large Chinatown with numerous far eastern style restaurants. The area to the west which is bisected by Deansgate and crossed by Peter Street is also well-provided with bars and some clubs (e.g. The Moon under Water and Ampersand). Rafters was a nightclub located in St James's Buildings. A number of reputable bands played concerts at Rafters in the 1970s and 1980s. Rafters closed in 1983. In its final years the DJ was Mike Shaft who appeared on Piccadilly Radio with Takin' Care of Business. After that the club was renamed as Jilly's which existed to 1993, after which the club was called MusicBox.[39]

The city centre also has many bars, mostly located in the Northern Quarter, regarded by some as the central district's creative hub. The quarter is well-provided with bars of various sizes; these include 'TV 21', 'Bar Fringe', the cocktail bar 'Apotheca' and 'Trof'. Live music venues may also be found here, including the well-known 'Night & Day Cafe', newcomer 'MOHO Live' and jazz bar 'Matt & Phred's'.

There are two theatres in the city centre, the Palace Theatre, mainly used as a venue for touring productions, and the Royal Exchange, a nationally known theatre company which specialising in new productions of the classics. The Cornerhouse, at the top of Oxford Road and opposite the Palace, is a venue for the visual arts and contains several cinemas which show mainly art house films.



Manchester City Centre has five train stations - four of which are in the Manchester station group: Piccadilly, Victoria, Oxford Road and Deansgate.

  • Manchester Piccadilly station is the largest station in the City with 14 platforms plus 2 Metrolink tram platforms, located on the southeast side of the city centre not far from Piccadilly Gardens, the Gay Village, and the Northern Quarter. The main access is from Piccadilly, which continues towards Ardwick as London Road.
  • Manchester Victoria station is the main terminus for services from the north and west of Greater Manchester and includes both rail and Metrolink platforms. It is currently[when?] under a multi-million pound refurbishment programme to bring it up to date and prepare it for a major increase of services, for both train and Metrolink. Victoria is located in the northwest of the city centre near the northern end of Deansgate, Corporation Street and Exchange Square and is connected to the Manchester Arena.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station serves the southern corridor of the city centre where both the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University are located, as well as the Central Manchester Hospitals, Palace Theatre, and Cornerhouse.
  • Deansgate station is located in the southwest, between Deansgate locks and nearby Castlefield at the southern end of Deansgate (which is over a mile long). It is also a short walk away from Beetham Tower, as well as the Great Northern complex, housing an AMC Cinema, bars and leisure attractions. It is connected via a link bridge to Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink station.
  • Salford Central station is in Salford, about 100 m west of the River Irwell, and serves the Spinningfields, Bridge Street, Chapel Street, Trinity Way and central Deansgate districts.


Metrolink is the light rail tram service that operates in Central Manchester. The services are usually 6 mins in the peak and 12 mins off-peak to most destinations, all of which are within Greater Manchester. There are currently (2012) 5 lines operating, however between 2012 and 2016 the network will see new lines connecting the city centre with Droylsden and Ashton-Under-Lyne, Oldham & Rochdale, East Didsbury, and Manchester Airport as well as a new line through the city centre with a new stop at Exchange Square. Metrolink stations/stops in the city centre currently are:

  • Piccadilly - Located beneath the main concourse, with services to Altrincham, Bury, Eccles & MediaCityUK as well as city centre stations/stops. Piccadilly will also handle services to Droylsden and Ashton-Under-Lyne once the line is complete.
  • Piccadilly Gardens - Located in the busiest bus/tram interchange in the city centre with services to Altrincham, Bury, Eccles & MediaCityUK as well as other city stations including Victoria and Piccadilly.
  • Deansgate-Castlefield - Services to Altrincham, Eccles, MediaCityUK and St Werburgh's Road (Chorlton) as well as future services to East Didsbury & Manchester Airport operate/will operate from this station.
  • Market Street - located in one of the main shopping streets and close the Arndale Centre, serving passengers on the Altrincham, Bury, & St Werberghs Road lines.
  • Mosley Street - Outbound platform only for services to Altrincham, Eccles, MediaCityUK & St Werburgh's Road situated west of Piccadilly Gardens.
  • Shudehill - an interchange station similar to Piccadilly Gardens located near the Northern Quarter, Printworks and Shudehill bus station. Services to Altrincham, Bury and St Werburgh's Road operate from this interchange.
  • St Peter's Square - Soon to be extended with the second city crossing, it serves the Altrincham, Bury, Eccles, MediaCityUK and St Werburgh's Road lines. It is located close to the central library, town hall and Oxford Street.
  • Victoria - Services to Altrincham, Bury & St Werburgh's Road currently operate from this station, however once expansion of the network is complete it will see new services from Oldham & Rochdale as well as East Didsbury and Manchester Airport.


There are also 2 major bus interchanges located in the city centre; Piccadilly Gardens bus station and Shudehill Interchange which all serve local bus services to areas in the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, as well as some from the surrounding counties of Cheshire and Lancashire.

Chorlton Street coach station provides long distance coach services operated by National Express to cities across Great Britain.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Manchester City Centre Office Market Report" (PDF). GVA Grimley. Spring 2008. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  2. ^ a b Gregory 2007, pp. 1-3.
  3. ^ a b "Industrial heritage in the Manchester region". International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine. 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  4. ^ "City Centre". Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  5. ^ Kellie 2010, p. 26.
  6. ^ "Green light for high living". BBC News. 27 October 2003. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  7. ^ Kellie 2010, pp. 56-61.
  8. ^ a b Ravetz 2000, p. 50.
  9. ^ Kellie 2010, pp. 142, 153.
  10. ^ "The rush to turn offices into flats". BBC News. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  11. ^ Hylton (2003), pp. 3, 8.
  12. ^ Hylton (2003), p. 7.
  13. ^ Newman (2006), p. 141.
  14. ^ Nevell (2008), p. 41.
  15. ^ Kidd (1996), p. 13.
  16. ^ Nevell (2008), p. 42.
  17. ^ McKechnie (1915), pp. 54–55.
  18. ^ Thame, David (29 January 2008). "Plans for St Peter's Square". M.E.N. Media. 
  19. ^[dead link]
  20. ^ Keegan, Mike (8 March 2011). "Manchester's Cenotaph to be moved to make way for Metrolink tram line". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). 
  21. ^ Jupp, Adam (7 July 2011). "Exciting times for the Co-op - it even flourishes in hard times". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). 
  22. ^ Williams, Jennifer (20 June 2013). "The future's northern: Booming city looks north with plan for 55,000 new homes". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  23. ^ Ordnance Survey. "Source data - 1:25,000 Scale Colour Raster; Grid reference at centre - SJ 837 981 GB Grid". Retrieved 7 November 2008. 
  24. ^ Central (Key Figures), URL accessed March 20, 2007.
  25. ^ "City Centre Map" (PDF). 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  26. ^ a b Kellie 2010, pp. 4-5, 243.
  27. ^ a b c Manchester City Council (11 July 2012). "Manchester's Local Development Framework: Core Strategy Development Plan Document" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-16. "Part of the City Centre is in Salford and both the Regional Centre and Inner Areas cover areas of Manchester, Salford and Trafford... Manchester City Centre is defined as the area inside the Inner Relief Route and extends to the south to encompass the Oxford Road Corridor. The City Centre also extends to Chapel Street, within the administrative boundary of Salford City Council." 
  28. ^ a b "Greater Manchester councils plan "unique" town centre investment strategy". 19 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  29. ^ a b Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (August 2009). "Prosperity for all: The Greater Manchester Strategy". Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  30. ^ Manchester City Council (1995), Manchester Unitary Development Plan, p. 105 
  31. ^ TfGM; GMCA (2011). Greater Manchester's third Local Transport Plan 2011/12 – 2015/16 (PDF). Transport for Greater Manchester. 
  32. ^ "Central (ward): Ethnic group". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  33. ^ "Manchester (local authority): Ethnic group". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  34. ^ "Central (ward): Key figures for physical environment". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  35. ^ a b c "Central (ward): Key statistics". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  36. ^ "Central (ward): Marital status". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  37. ^ "Central (ward): Household composition". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  38. ^ Greater Manchester County Records Office: Wellington Inn
  39. ^ "Our history". Jilly's Rockworld - home of Manchester's rock & alternative community. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  • Gregory, Richard (ed) (2007). Roman Manchester: The University of Manchester's Excavations within the Vicus 2001–5. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN 978-1-84217-271-1. 
  • Hylton, Stuart (2003). A History of Manchester. Chichester: Phillimore and co. Ltd. ISBN 1-86077-240-4. 
  • Kellie, Euan (2010). Rebuilding Manchester. Derby: Derby Books. ISBN 978-1-85983-786-3. 
  • Kidd, Alan ([1996] 1993). Manchester. Keele: Keele University Press. ISBN 1-85331-028-X. 
  • McKechnie, H. M., ed. (1915). Manchester in Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen. Manchester: University of Manchester Press. 
  • Nevell, Mike (2008). Manchester: The Hidden History. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4704-9. 
  • Newman, Caron (2006). "Medieval Period Resource Assessment". Archaeology North West 8: 115–144. ISSN 0962-4201. 
  • Ravetz, Joe (2000). City-Region 2020. Earthscan. ISBN 978-1-85383-606-0. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Atkins, Philip (1976). Guide Across Manchester. Manchester: Civic Trust for the North West. ISBN 0-901347-29-9. 
  • Bradshaw, L. D. (1985). Origins of Street Names in the City of Manchester. Radcliffe: Neil Richardson. ISBN 0-907511-87-2. 

External links[edit]