Manchester Central Convention Complex

  (Redirected from G-Mex Centre)

Manchester Central Convention Complex (commonly known as Manchester Central) is an exhibition and conference centre converted from the former Manchester Central railway station in Manchester, England.

Manchester Central Convention Complex
Manchester Central Arena.jpg
Former namesGreater Manchester Exhibition Centre (1986–2006)
General information
StatusGrade II*[1]
Architectural style19th Century railway terminus, cast iron and red brick
LocationManchester City Centre
AddressWindmill Street
Manchester M2 3GX
Coordinates53°28′34″N 2°14′51″W / 53.476132°N 2.247369°W / 53.476132; -2.247369Coordinates: 53°28′34″N 2°14′51″W / 53.476132°N 2.247369°W / 53.476132; -2.247369
Construction started1982
Opened21 March 1986
Cost£20 million
Renovation cost£30 million
OwnerManchester City Council
Height90 feet (27 m)
Other dimensionsArch span: 210 feet (64 m)
Hall length: 550 feet (168 m) long
Technical details
Structural system2-storey brick building with single-span segmental iron and glass arched roof
Design and construction
Architecture firmEGS Design
Main contractorAlfred McAlpine
Renovating team
Renovating firmStephenson Bell
Venue Website
Manchester Central Convention Complex
OperatorManchester Central Convention Complex Ltd.
Banquet/ballroom1,200 (Exchange Hall)
Theatre seating
10,900[2] (Central Hall)
804 (Exchange Auditorium)
Enclosed space
 • Total space17,776.71 m2 (191,346.9 sq ft)
 • Exhibit hall floor11,834.56 m2 (127,386.1 sq ft)
 • Breakout/meeting2,820.15 m2 (30,355.8 sq ft)

The building has a distinctive arched roof with a 64-metre span - the second-largest railway station roof span in the United Kingdom,[3] and was granted Grade II* listed building status in 1963.

After 89 years as a railway terminus, it closed to passengers in May 1969. It was renovated as an exhibition centre formerly known as the G-Mex Centre in 1982 and was Manchester's primary music concert venue until the construction of the Manchester Arena. After renovation the venue reverted to its former name Manchester Central in 2007.


Manchester Central railway stationEdit

An illustrative image of the old Manchester Central railway station, dated 1905.

The complex was originally Manchester Central railway station, one of the city's main railway terminals.[4]

Designed by Sir John Fowler, the station was opened in July 1880 by the Cheshire Lines Committee. The station served as the terminus for Midland Railway express trains to London St Pancras. The station's large arched roof – a huge wrought-iron single-span arched roof, spanning 210 feet (64 m), 550 feet (168 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) high – was a noted piece of railway engineering and is the widest unsupported iron arch in Britain after the Barlow train shed at London St Pancras.[5]

At its height, in the 1930s, more than 400 trains passed through the station every day.[6] The station operated for 89 years, before closing in May 1969.[7]

G-Mex CentreEdit

The interior of the derelict station before its renovation in 1982.

In 1978, the structure was acquired by the Greater Manchester County Council to redevelop as a concert venue. In 1982 construction work undertaken by Alfred McAlpine[8] It was the centrepiece of the regeneration plan for the area and wider Castlefield district. The hall covered 10,000 square metres and could be partitioned into various sized units for different exhibitions.[9] Initial construction work concentrated on repairing the derelict structure and re-pointing brickwork which took 18 months.[8] The Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre or G-Mex Centre was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986 after four years of renovation.[10]

In 2001, the Manchester International Convention Centre (MICC) was added, comprising an 804-seat auditorium and breakout rooms and the Great Northern Hall. In 2005, the company running the complex was bought by Manchester City Council. G-Mex was Manchester's primary concert venue from 1986 to 1995. Its position as a concert venue diminished after the opening of the Manchester (then NYNEX) Arena in 1995.[11]

Manchester CentralEdit

In January 2007 it was renamed Manchester Central, evoking the memory of the former station[12][13] and converted into an exhibition and conference centre. The building was renovated at a cost of £30 million in 2008 by Manchester-based architects, Stephenson Bell. The first phase to create a foyer took from February to November 2008.[14]

The second phase, completed towards the end of 2009, included an extended foyer to the Grade ll listed Central Hall. The old smoked-glass structure was demolished and replaced by a flat-roofed, clear-glazed structure exposing more of the original architecture.[5] The final phase, completed in September 2010, focused on the rear of the building. New event spaces were built and rooms refurbished to increase the venue's range and size of meeting and banqueting spaces.[15]


During its days as the G-MEX Centre, the venue was used for hosting rock concerts. Not long after its official opening, Factory Records used the venue for their Festival of the Tenth Summer in July 1986 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Punk In The City, and included appearances by The Smiths, and Factory Records stalwarts New Order. James appeared in 1990, U2 in June 1992, Metallica in November 1992 on their The Black Album tour and The Cure in November 1992. G-Mex had a seating capacity of 9,500 for end stage concerts and 12,500 for standing events and stopped hosting concerts in 1997, with the last gig by Oasis in December. G-Mex was also the 2002 Commonwealth Games venue for gymnastics, weightlifting, judo and wrestling.[16]

After a nine-year break, it was again used for concerts by Snow Patrol in December 2006 with Morrissey, The Verve. Marilyn Manson, Franz Ferdinand, Manic Street Preachers, Arctic Monkeys,[17] Bloc Party and Hard-Fi holding concerts in 2007. Status Quo have performed there multiple times. The venue hosted concerts by Placebo in December 2009, Arcade Fire, Biffy Clyro, Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Taste of Chaos Tour 2010, deadmau5,[18] Pendulum in December 2010 and The Eighth Plague Tour. In 2011, it hosted The Girls' Day Out Show.[19]

In 2009 and 2010, it played host to the Manchester audition stages of the ITV programme The X Factor and in December 2012, the hosted the finals of series 9 of The X Factor.[20]

In September 2006, the Labour Party moved from traditional seaside venues to hold its annual party conference at the complex, returning to the venue in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. It has also hosted conferences for the Confederation of British Industry, ECOFIN, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party. Conservatives in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.[21][22]

The venue is also the filming location of Ninja Warrior UK.[23]


Located in the heart of the city, Manchester Central is served by two Metrolink tram stops - Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop and St Peter's Square tram stop both of which are under a five-minute walk from the venue. National Rail local train services serve Deansgate railway station whilst Manchester Piccadilly is a twenty-minute walk away.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Historic England. "G-Mex (1270514)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Central Hall 1 & 2 Combined". Manchester Central. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Manchester Central Station (G-Mex) roof". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  4. ^ "About Manchester Central". Manchester Central Convention Complex. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  5. ^ a b Lashley, Brian (5 May 2009). "Manchester Central marks milestone". Manchester Evening News. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  6. ^ Parkinson-Bailey, p. 212
  7. ^ "What happened to England's forgotten railway stations?". BBC. 11 January 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  8. ^ a b Gray p. 137
  9. ^ Parkinson-Bailey, p. 213
  10. ^ Parkinson-Bailey, p. 214
  11. ^ Watson, Janine (25 July 1995). "Arena ready for Wets sell-out". Manchester Evening News.
  12. ^ Burdett, Jill (25 June 2009). "This is just the start ..." Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Morrissey plays last 'G-Mex' gig". BBC News. 22 December 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  14. ^ "Manchester Central". Stephenson Studio. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Manchester Central - The redevelopment". Manchester Central. 13 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  16. ^ "G-Mex". BBC. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Arctic Monkeys @ Manchester Central". Citylife. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Deadmau5 - Review". Citylife. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  19. ^ Attention all females girls day out in Manchester Archived 2 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "'X Factor' series nine final to be held in Manchester". Digital Spy. 13 August 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Conservatives will return to Manchester for 2013 and 2015 party conferences". Manchester Evening News. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  22. ^ "Manchester to host Labour Party Conference in 2012 and 2014". Archived from the original on 28 December 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  23. ^ "ITV brings world renowned television game show to Manchester Central". Manchester Central. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Manchester Piccadilly". Engineering Times. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  • Gray, Tony (1987). The Road to Success: Alfred McAlpine 1935–1985. Rainbird Publishing.
  • Hartwell, Clare (2001). Pevsner Architectural Guide: Manchester. Penguin.
  • Parkinson-Bailey, John (2000). Manchester: An architectural history. Manchester University Press.
  • Radford, Brian (1988). Midland through the Peak. Unicorn. ISBN 978-1-85241-001-8.

External linksEdit