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Train shed and undercroft at Manchester Piccadilly Station

A Grade II Listed Building in City Centre, Manchester

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Latitude: 53.477 / 53°28'37"N

Longitude: -2.2289 / 2°13'44"W

OS Eastings: 384903

OS Northings: 397827

OS Grid: SJ849978

Mapcode National: GBR DNJ.1L

Mapcode Global: WHB9G.QVTW

Plus Code: 9C5VFQGC+QC

Entry Name: Train shed and undercroft at Manchester Piccadilly Station

Listing Date: 6 June 1994

Last Amended: 19 July 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1283014

English Heritage Legacy ID: 388289

Location: Piccadilly, Manchester, M1

County: Manchester

Electoral Ward/Division: City Centre

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Manchester

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Manchester St Ann

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

Tagged with: Train shed

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Train shed set above a rail-served undercroft, 1866, extended 1883 with significant remodelling 1958-1966 and 1998-2002.


Train shed set above a rail-served undercroft, 1866, extended 1883 with significant remodelling 1958-1966 and 1998-2002.

LAYOUT: the passenger platforms are set above the general surrounding street level (this upper level is referred to in this description as platform level), within a Victorian train shed which forms a rail terminus approached from the east.

Beneath the station, set at the level of the surrounding streets, is an extensive undecroft, including a cast-iron colonnade which supports a former unenclosed goods yard deck to the north side of the train shed. The undercroft extends between Store Street, Sheffield Street, Travis Street, Fairfield Street, and the separately listed goods office on London Road (listed Grade II).

Attached to the west side of the train shed is the 1998-2002 concourse range (incorporating a reclad 1960s tower block), to the east are C21 gull-wing shelters covering the external part of platforms 1-12, and to the south-east is an early-C21 mezzanine-level satellite lounge on concrete and brick pillars linked by a footbridge to an island platform (platforms 13 and 14) set on a pre-stressed concrete bridge over Fairfield Street; all of these additions* (excluding the train shed) are not of special architectural and historic interest and are not included in the listing. To the north of the train shed, above the undercroft, are detached C20 and C21 railway maintenance buildings*, prefabricated office buildings*, as well as car-park infrastructure* and the car-park surface* which are not of special architectural or historic interest and are not included in the listing.


PLAN: the train shed has a roughly rectangular plan which is staggered at the east end, with side walls to the north (built mainly 1866) and south (mainly 1883), and is open to the approaching railway lines to the east.

MATERIALS: the side walls are built of polychrome brickwork including moulded brick and stone ashlar dressings. The roof has a modern covering supported by wrought-iron roof trusses set on cast-iron pillars.

EXTERIOR: the four-span train shed has two long multi-window brick elevations to the north and south. The northern 1866 English-bond red-brick elevation has a brick plinth with ashlar capstones. The windows are divided by flat brick pilasters. Each recessed window bay consists of a painted, round-headed, six-pane cast-iron window topped by a brick-voussoir arch with an over-sized keystone, and a stone sill below. Above each window are stepped brick corbels supporting a parapet decorated by two stone platbands. One of the window bays near the wall's east end has been blocked and refaced in brick with a vent above. A blue-engineering brick pilaster finishes the elevation's east end. The southern 1883 Flemish-bond yellow-brick elevation has a similar arrangement with matching metal windows and stone detailing; however, this elevation also utilises polychromatic, blue- and red-brick decoration to the banding, voussoirs, and corbels.

The roof is clad in toughened glass and each span is topped by long pitched-roof vents. At the east end, three of the spans are open below the trusses.

INTERIOR: the internal elevations of the train shed’s brick-walls are both yellow-brick with polychromatic brick decoration and chamfered detailing. The interior faces of the cast-iron window frames each incorporate a slender central ironwork column. The northern wall incorporates a red-marble water fountain inscribed ‘1865'. The southern wall has internal painted cast-iron-clad buttresses. The southern wall extends west beyond the end of the train shed roof (which was shortened in the mid-C20) and into the 1998-2002 concourse building (the C19 wall is included in the listing).

The four-span train shed roof is supported by rows of cast-iron columns. There is a row along each of the side walls and there are further rows of columns located along the centre of the station platforms: two single rows and one double row which marks the original south side of the train shed. The columns (repainted in the early 2000s in the original paint scheme) have foliate-decorated bases, composite capitals and are topped by pairs of large brackets with decorative spandrels. The columns support the roof's longitudinal-lattice girders. Each of the four roof spans has a series of curved wrought-iron trusses with ties and cast-iron struts.

The 1960s footbridge at the south end replaces an earlier one in a similar location. It is clad in large panels, and, to the south-east, it is covered with a curved late-C20 awning; the C19 cast-iron columns that rise through the middle of the bridge have lost their decorative brackets. The platform lamps were added in the late C20. At the southern end of the train shed are C21 moving walkways which lead up to the satellite lounge. The platform tiles are understood to have been relaid during the 1998-2002 refurbishment although some fragments of C19 platforms may survive below within the train shed.


PLAN: below the passenger concourse and train shed is an extensive undercroft originally including railway sidings and facilities for the unloading, movement and storage of goods. The undercroft is roughly split into two sections either side of a skewed underground railway tunnel (now part of the Metrolink route) which originally ran north-east to the south-west under the station. The WESTERN UNDERCROFT mainly sits below the concourse building, and the western end of the train shed; it is enclosed by retaining walls to the south-west and west, otherwise it is open. The EASTERN UNDERCROFT consists of interlinking partitioned bays which mostly run north to south, and is enclosed by retaining walls to the north, west, and south.

EXTERIOR: the retaining walls to the WESTERN UNDERCROFT run along London Road (south-west) and Store Street (west). The London Road wall includes a brick pier with ashlar detailing and a section of C19 brick retaining wall. The wall consists of a large rounded arch with a rusticated-ashlar entablature, boarded fanlight and a late-C20 shop front (disused); above is a section of decorative cast-iron railing. Further east are two, late-C20 masonry flat arches which were inserted as part of the Metrolink station are not included in the listing*. The Store Street retaining wall extends under a bridge; it contains evidence of further blocked arches, including one at the southern end which is thought to be the original mid-C19 street level access to the station above. The northern end of this elevation has been partially rebuilt at parapet level in blue-engineering brick.

The undercrofts that run beneath the train shed are mainly open along Sheffield Street (north) and Fairfield Street (south).

The EASTERN UNDERCROFT is mostly enclosed by retaining brick walls. The Sheffield Street (north) elevation incorporates a flat-arch former goods tunnel which is now part of the route of the Metrolink line. The rest of the elevation is articulated by a regular arrangement of rounded arches; most of which have been reused in the C20 as the entrances to business units; although at least one arch retains its original brick and glazed façade and another retains a set of metal gates that provide access to the undercroft. The retaining wall along Travis Street (east) has further blocked arches. The east end of the Fairfield Street undercroft arches is open. Further west the undercroft is enclosed by a yellow brick retaining wall which incorporates a set of 1960s metal gates decorated with lettering reading ‘MANCHESTER PICCADILLY STATION' in front of a partially-glazed door that leads into a disused lobby, and a broad set of timber-plank doors which provide access to the undercroft.

INTERIOR: part of the WESTERN UNDERCROFT lies under the concourse building, and includes a former C19 railway staff dining and refreshment area. Some of the arches in this area have been removed to create foundations for the various phases of 1998-2002 concourse rebuilding, and contemporary partitions and lift shafts have been inserted to create service areas; this C20 and C21 building fabric* is not of special interest.

Under the train shed the undercroft is mostly open. On the north side (visible from Sheffield Street), are the remains of two rows of large red- and white-painted cast-iron columns supporting an iron-girder and metal-plate that lies under the former goods yard deck (since the late-C20 the deck above has been a car park). A section of the original iron-girder parapet walls survives to the east end of the deck. Other parts of the deck’s parapet walls have been replaced in concrete and blue-engineering brick.

Beyond the painted cast-iron columns is the brick undercroft that lies beneath the 1860s train-shed phase. It is constructed of brick-vault arches on brick piers (a few of which are rusticated). Most of the brick rows are open, apart from the two most easterly rows which have blocked triple-arches supported by small cast-iron columns at the north end. This undercroft area is used for car parking. There are blocked gaps in the brick vaulting which are interpreted as the former shafts for goods hoists.
To the south is the 1880s train-shed undercroft which consists of three rows of large cast-iron columns supporting a brick jack-arch roof set on riveted girders. Within the part of the 1880s cast-iron undercroft, late-C20/ early-C21 modifications have been made relating to the 1998-2002 concourse building and the Metrolink station (including the insertion of mezzanine levels, partitions, escalators, stairs and lift shafts track, siding and associated plant); this late-C20 and early-C21 building fabric* is not of special interest. Some of the original cast-iron columns have been encased in concrete.
The EASTERN UNDERCROFT retains most of its original layout as well as several sidings, former stairways, cast-iron columns, some timber rolling doors and shutters, and sections of rail track and cobbles. Several tunnels have been subdivided by concrete-block partitions, particularly at their northern end to create business units; the concrete partitions* and the interiors of the business units* are not of special interest.

*Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that certain features not of special architectural or historic interest.

For clarity, in addition the following features are not of special architectural or historic interest**.

**The north-west end of the former northern colonnaded goods yard deck which has been rebuilt in concrete (the north of the train shed); the late-C20 Metrolink double-flat arch section of retaining wall on London Road; the sections of the 1998-2002 concourse building and satellite lounge on Fairfield Street which have been built beyond the extent of the C19 undercroft; and the brick wall to a former private goods yard at the corner of Fairfield Street and Travis Street are not special interest and are not included in the mapped extent of the listing.

**Within the mapped area at platform level, the 1998-2002 concourse building (and the incorporated reclad 1960s tower block); the external platforms to platforms 1-12 and their C21 shelters attached to the east side of the train shed; the C21 satellite-lounge structure attached to the east end of the southern train-shed span; the part of the C20 station footbridge which lies beyond the extent of the C19 train shed; the platform island known as platforms 13 and 14, its 1960s concrete platform bridge and the linking covered footbridges; and the C20 and C21 maintenance buildings, prefabricated offices, car park infrastructure and car park surface above the undercroft to the north side of the train shed are not of special architectural or historic interest.

**Within the mapped area at undercroft level the C20/early-C21 building fabric beneath the 1998-2002 concourse building and the infrastructure relating to the Metrolink station (including mezzanine levels, partitions, escalators, stairs and lift shafts, track, sidings and associated plant); and the C20 and C21 partitions and interiors of the business units in the Eastern Undercroft are not of special architectural or historic interest.


The listed part of the station is on two levels with the train shed above and the undercroft below. The mapped extent of the listing largely relates to the extent of this undercroft at street level.


The station name - Manchester Piccadilly - dates from 1960, but there has been a railway station in the vicinity since 1840 when the Manchester and Birmingham Railway (later the London and North Western Railway (LNWR)) established a temporary terminus station at Travis Street. In 1842 a permanent terminus was built a little to the north facing Store Street, on the site of the current station complex. Shortly afterward the station became a joint terminus with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MSLR). Between 1846 and 1849 a through platform was built near the south-east corner of Store Street Station along with its associated viaduct, both of which were designed by David Bellhouse for the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJAR). In 1847 the station name was changed to London Road Station.

In the 1860s, due to overcrowding and the acrimony between the joint operators LNWR and MSLR, the decision was made to build a larger station in the same location which would be divided between both companies. Construction occurred between 1862 and 1866 and included a new main concourse building at the top of a ramped road and, to the east, a 200m long iron and glass train shed consisting of two, 29m wide arch spans covering the terminal platforms. The northern platform was used by MSLR and the southern by LNWR.

Below the passenger station, at street level, an extensive undercroft was established and contained a goods depot which facilitated the movement and storage of goods. It was likely that there was an undercroft beneath the 1840s station; however, this area was heavily extended in the 1860s with the creation of the new station. The undercroft, which included a goods rail network and sidings, also extended westwards under the station approach lines and northwards beneath a rail goods yard to the north of the station’s train shed. The undercroft was mostly open at the western end, the eastern end being partitioned to form store rooms. In the northern part there were originally four hydraulic hoists which allowed the transfer of goods freight cars (vans) between the undercroft and the open goods yard deck above. On the south side of the undercroft, facing London Road, a goods office was built in around the 1850s/ 1860s (this is separately listed Grade II).

London Road Station was expanded between 1880 and 1883: the train shed was extended to the south by LNWR with the addition of two 21m wide arch spans accommodating new platforms and lines, with the undercroft below being extended with a cast-iron structure. At a similar time the MSJAR platform was rebuilt as an island platform (in the location of the current platforms 13 and 14) carried on a new girder bridge spanning Fairfield Street and linked to the main station by a footbridge, this being opened in 1882. There is some discrepancy over the attribution of the engineers responsible for the train shed's two phases with some sources suggesting the 1860s spans were designed by William Baker and the 1880s spans by Lewis Henry Moorsom (1880s). However, R and J Rankin have also been suggested as responsible for the earlier phase and the original drawings for the later spans are signed by William Baker.

Between 1958 and 1966, London Road Station underwent another significant phase of rebuilding as part of a mid-C20 railway modernisation scheme. The C19 entrance building was completely replaced at platform level by a new concourse building, as well as a 10-storey tower block which became offices for British Rail. The train shed structure was left relatively unaltered, although the 1880s spans were shortened at the concourse (west) end and the platform arrangement was also reconfigured, including extending the platforms eastwards, beyond cover of the train shed. The MSJAR bridge with its island platform over Fairfield Street (platforms 13 and 14) was rebuilt in pre-stressed concrete. On 12 September 1960, the station was renamed Manchester Piccadilly.

In 1989, platforms 13 and 14 were lengthened. In 1990, the Manchester Metrolink terminus station was established within the 1880s undercroft, below the train shed. The train shed roof, originally clad in slate with some integral glazing and then later in boarded felt and glass, was refurbished in 1997 and reclad in toughened glass.

Between 1998 and 2002, in advance of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, the station underwent another major redevelopment. The 1960s entrance building was replaced by a new concourse building; a multi-award winning design by Building Design Partnership which included ticket offices, shops, and a mezzanine restaurant level. The 1960s tower block was reclad and refurbished and a new glazed side entrance was built facing Fairfield Street to provide access to a new taxi rank. A satellite lounge was built against the east end of the southern-most train-shed span; it was developed to provide a waiting area for passengers using platforms 13 and 14 at a raised level and linked to the main platform level by a series of moving walkways within the train shed.

Reasons for Listing

The C19 train shed and undercroft at Piccadilly Station is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a good example of C19 railway engineering;
* for the aesthetic quality of the train shed’s design including the polychromatic brick elevations and the substantial decorated columns that support the large metal frame;
* for the extensive brick-vaulted and cast-iron former goods depot undercroft which survives well below platform level, and includes the remains of C19 sidings and track.

Historic interest:

* as one of Manchester’s principal railway stations;
* as an illustration of the dual importance of passenger and freight rail transport to the city and its C19 economic development.

Group value:

* as part of a strong group of C19 railway structures including the attached former goods offices to Piccadilly Station, London Warehouse to the north, and the MSJAR viaduct to the south (all listed Grade II)

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