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.
- 1840: June, a temporary terminus is opened by the Manchester & Birmingham Railway.
- 1842: The station is extended to London Road with the opening of the line as far as Crewe.
- 1844: 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.
- 1845: The Liverpool and Manchester, Grand Junction, Manchester and Birmingham and the London and Birmingham railways joined to form the London and North Western Railway.
- 1847: The station is renamed London Road.
- 1849: The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lynne and Manchester Railway becomes part of the Manchester Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway.
- 1849: Platforms for the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway are built next to London Road.
- 1860: Overcrowding and disagreements between the London and North Western and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire railways were making the situation at London Road difficult.
- 1862: Agreement between the two railway companies saw London Road Station rebuilt.
- 1881: 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.
- 1948: 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.
- 1960: 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.
- 1992: Manchester Metrolink is opened with platforms in the undercroft of Manchester Piccadilly.
- 2002: Major improvements to Manchester Piccadilly are completed for the 2002 Commonwealth Games hosted by the city.
The original station
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.
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.