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Manchester Central Station. The Cheshire Lines Committee built the imposing central terminus in Manchester, although the Midland Railway also used it and contributed the imposing Midland Hotel opposite; this was built between 1898 and 1903. Despite the station enjoying a prestigious 'Blue Pullman' service from St. Pancras during the 1960s, the last trains departed on Saturday 3rd May 1969, after which the building was purchased by National Car Parks (NCP) and used as a car park – an indignity for a once major terminus. The building became very run down but, in 1978, Manchester City Council bought it, and five years later, in 1983, a Grade II* listing was awarded – presumably for the building's special architectural merit, i.e. the single span wrought iron truss structure used in its roof. After the listing, Manchester CC began to convert the building into an exhibition hall, which finally opened on 7th March 1986 as 'GMEX'. However, the building's historic name – Manchester Central – was restored in 2007, thus acknowledging the building's railway history. The photographs below were taken just before the club's 2014 Annual General Meeting, which was held nearby; the opportunity to visit this iconic station was too good to miss.

Above: This is the view of the restored station that greets anyone walking south along Manchester's Mount Street. The distinctive structure of the roof is obvious. 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Above: A view of the station from across the piazza which now fronts it. Some railway enthusiasts are not too keen on the projecting canopy, but it does at least afford some shelter to those queueing up for an event when the Mancunian weather is not quite so delightful as seen here. 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The interior of the train shed. The CLC's girder work must have made it easy to install all of the modern lighting gantries. 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A selection of ex-railway offices within the train shed, on the north side. Notable features are the attractive red brick, the brick patterns over the window arches, the trifoliate windows, and the stonework at the top of the ground floor. Was it worth preserving the building? We think so! 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: The years of dereliction. This was how Manchester Central looked just three years after its purchase by Manchester City Council, with the symmetrical rows of canopies still intact. Even allowing for the depradations of vandals, the building was till an impressive site. April 1981. (Ian Capper, used under the terms of the Creative Commons licence displayed at the foot of this page)
 
Above: The Midland Railway's grand Midland Hotel seen in context, with the south east corner of Manchester Central to the left. Railway passengers who were wealthy enough to afford a stay here did not have far to walk. 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: A closer view of the hotel. We would imagine that patronage of this establishment has increased markedly since the bad old days when the station opposite was a mouldering ruin facing an uncertain future. 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Left: The other end of the line – the Midland Railway's famous Gothic masterpiece, St. Pancras Hotel, in London. On the face of it, this picture doesn't have much to do with Manchester Central and the Manchester Midland Hotel – except that the two hotels were once linked by direct rail services. Any passenger able to afford a stay at both ends of the line must have been seriously wealthy! 22nd March 2014. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Rails once more. Thanks to Manchester's new Metrolink tram service, Manchester Central is again rail-connected, although the trams do not enter the train shed but skirt around it via Lower Mosley Street, the A5103. The restored station has its own tram stop, on the south side of the building, while the trams actually use the former CLC railway viaduct that once carried trains away to the west. Here, tram 3063 leads a working on the Eccles to Ashton-under-Lyne service; Manchester Central is immediately to the right of the viaduct, and parallel to it. 17th May 2014. (Jeff Vinter)