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Manchester Piccadilly

Archive/Image Reference


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Enlargement of London Road Station Manchester

Did you know?

By the 1880s the goods warehouses underneath Manchester London Road were some of the busiest in the world. This vaulted undercroft is now the Manchester Piccadilly metrolink station.

Manchester was already at the heart of industrial revolution when the railway came to the city in 1830. The potential to link the city with other industrial towns and cities has made Manchester an important centre for railway investment.

The original temporary terminus on Travis Street was opened in June 1840 by the Manchester & Birmingham Railway when it opened its line as far as Stockport. In 1842 when the line was opened as far as Crewe, the Company extended its station to London Road. The station had two platforms, one for arrivals, the other for departures and housed the Manchester & Birmingham Railway’s offices in the station buildings. An agreement with the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lynne & Manchester Railway enabled that railway company to use the London Road premises for the terminus of their line to Sheffield.


London Road Expanded

By the 1860s the original station at London Road was becoming overcrowded, and relationships between the London North Western and the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire (as the SA&MR had become) was at an all time low. An agreement was reached in 1862 by the two companies to build a new station designed to be split in two; the LNWR occupied the south western side and the MS&L the north eastern side. To cope with increased traffic, London Road Station was expanded in 1881 with an additional two spans added to the train shed roof.

The Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway opened in August 1849 and built platforms for its services next to London Road. During the station enlargement in 1881 the ‘South Junction’ platforms were taken out, and an island platform on a bridge over Fairfield Street was erected, opening in May 1882. This island platform forms today’s platforms 13 and 14 for services running through Manchester.


Twentieth Century Improvements

After railway nationalisation in 1948, Manchester London Road was operated by the London Midland Region of British Railways (LMR) and the London Eastern Region of British Railways (LER). They continued to operate Manchester London Road as two separate stations.

On 12 September 1960, Manchester London Road changed its name to Manchester Piccadilly following major redevelopment undertaken by British Railways in the late 1950s. Station and office accommodation which served the railway companies from the 1860s were demolished and a new concourse with office accommodation was constructed in glass and steel.

Accommodation underneath Manchester Piccadilly had been used as a goods warehouse since the nineteenth century. In 1992, the vaults opened as a station for the city’s MetroLink service.

Between 1998 and 2002 Manchester Piccadilly was extensively modernised ready for the Commonwealth Games hosted by the city in 2002. the project greatly enhanced the facilities, layout and accessibility as well as the visual appearance of the station with new areas for shopping established, new glass entrances to the terminus platforms and a moving walkway to take passengers over to platforms 13 and 14.

Page first created: Monday, February 27, 2012
Page last updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012


June: a temporary terminus is opened by the Manchester & Birmingham Railway.



The station is extended to London Road with the opening of the line as far as Crewe.



The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lynne and Manchester Railway establishes their terminus in the London Road station, sharing the station with the Manchester and Birmingham Railway.



The Liverpool and Manchester, Grand Junction, Manchester and Birmingham and the London and Birmingham railways joined to form the London and North Western Railway



The station is renamed London Road



The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lynne and Manchester Railway becomes part of the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway



Platforms for the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway are built next to London Road.



Overcrowding and disagreements between the London and North Western and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire railways were making the situation at London Road difficult.



Agreement between the two railway companies saw London Road Station rebuilt.



Expansion at London Road Station added a further two spans to the train shed roof. The ‘South Junction’ platforms are rebuilt as an island platform on a bridge over Fairfield Street



Railway nationalisation: Manchester London Road was operated as two separate stations by the London Midland Region of British Railways and the Eastern Region of British Railways.



12 September: Manchester London Road changes its name to Manchester Piccadilly following major redevelopment of the concourse and office accommodation by British Railways in the late 1950s



Manchester Metrolink is opened with platforms in the undercroft of Manchester Piccadilly



Major improvements to Manchester Piccadilly are completed for the 2002 Commonwealth Games hosted by the city.

Comments & Suggestions (8)

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 Could you say it became part of LMS at Grouping in 1923 please. Do you want typos noted e.g. there are 3 here - 1845 joined for joint 1960 late for lat 1992 undercroft as one word I'm a natural pedant but this will be a brilliant web site in time and so is worth making as perfect as possible.

Posted by Martin Robertson, Friday, March 2, 2012.

What a super site this is and should grow into. Good, clean layout, excellent reproduction quality and from what I can see well informed. The country is littered with railway infrastructure both operative and redundant. So often it is built to a very high standard, using high quality materials and often designed by legends of the Victorian era. I look forward to seeing the database grow. I do hope the archives of the big four and BR are as intact as they should be. Good luck.

Posted by Elliot Atkinson, Friday, March 2, 2012.

 What a great shame that people in the planning department think that modern buildings added onto such buildings as Manchester London Road station and other such buildings of beauty looks good is beond me, just look at the drawing as above. Surely something in keeping with whats already there would be more appropriate.

Posted by Bigowle, Thursday, March 1, 2012.

 I think Eastern Region boundary was the Woodhead Tunnel. All the station signs at London Rd and stations to Woodhead were in the maroon colours of London Midland Region.

Posted by John Lawson, Friday, April 6, 2012.

 A great start to a website. Maybe it could include links to old photos as well - eg , or better still plans of the old offices at London Rd. I recall the MSJA electric trains stopping at buffer stops, rather than a through junction, which was reinstated when the line to Oxford Rd was converted to 25kv.

Posted by John Lawson, Friday, April 6, 2012.

 There is no reference to this being the western terminous for the first fully electrified main line in Britain, the Woodhead route !.

Posted by Tony West, Wednesday, May 14, 2014.

The under croft is used by more than Metro Link. Its usage includes staff carpark, retail store rooms, retail delivery area, taxi rank and drop-pick up area and short stay carpark. In short it is a busy if mainly hidden part of the station. Please do give this area the credit that is due to it.

Posted by Chris Gallagher, Friday, January 11, 2013.

Good story but there are some mistakes. The Eastern Region of BR was just that - ER, not London Eastern Region - LER.  The South Junction platforms survived until 1960 when they were demolished as part of the 25kV modernisation work. The bridge which supports platforms 13/14 is a remarkable design in itself, being a pre-stressed concrete cantilever quite delicately balanced. The unusual means of support is clear from Fairfield Street below. This could not possibly be an 1880s construction!

Posted by Jack Haythornthwaite, Tuesday, August 7, 2012.

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