The Grade 2 listed Great Northern Warehouse is now a lively leisure and shopping development with bustling bars, cafes and restaurants and an elegant landscaped public square. But it was once a neglected Victorian landmark after being at the centre of Manchester’s Transport system for over half a century.
The Great Northern Warehouse and its environs was historically a transport interchange for the massive volume of goods arriving by rail at Central Station now Manchester Central
When building work began in 1885, the railways were booming. In order to build the Great Northern Warehouse - nine acres of streets, back-to-back houses, foundries, hotels, inns, a burial ground and a school were swept away.
The Warehouse was completed in August 1899 Inside was a spaghetti junction of rail lines with five platforms and twenty five cranes. To facilitate the movement of goods, wagon turntables were incorporated at the end of the lines to allow wagons to be turned round. The Manchester and Salford Junction canal, constructed in 1939, ran under the Warehouse, passing through a specially-built dock.
After several decades of decline in the railways and the fall of the Beeching axe, the Warehouse was closed for good in 1963. In disuse even before then, it effectively lay empty for 50 years before developers saw its enormous potential.
After long planning negotiations, work finally began on Great Northern's £100 million metamorphosis in 1998.