Manchester Academy

The Manchester Academy is composed of four concert venues, located on the campus of the University of Manchester, in Manchester, England. The four venues are: Academy 1, 2 and 3 and Club Academy. Utilized by the Students' Union, the venues are housed in two buildings, the original Students' Union built in 1957 and the Academy, built in 1990. In 2004, after the merging of the universities, the venues carried the "Academy" moniker.

Manchester Academy
Manchester Academy 3.jpg
Exterior view of 'Academy 1' (c.2009)
AddressOxford Rd
Manchester M13 9PL
Coordinates53°27′49″N 2°13′54″W / 53.46361°N 2.23167°W / 53.46361; -2.23167Coordinates: 53°27′49″N 2°13′54″W / 53.46361°N 2.23167°W / 53.46361; -2.23167
OwnerUniversity of Manchester
OperatorSJM Concerts
Capacity2,600 (Academy 1)
950 (Academy 2)
650 (Club Academy)
470 (Academy 3)
Opened18 October 1990 (1990-10-18)
Renovated2005, 2007–08, 2016
Construction cost£1.2 million
(£3.01 million in 2019 dollars[1])
Venue Website


The original Students' Union building, 2010

Known as Victoria University, the Student Union building was erected in 1957. It began hosting concerts in 1963. The venue hosted many jazz artists in its early dates. The first performance was by Humphrey Lyttelton and His Band, 16 November 1963. The main building housed three of its original venues: the "Main Debating Hall" (now "Academy 2"), the "Hop and Grape" (later became known as "Solem Bar" and now "Academy 3") and "The Cellar" (also known as "Cellar Disco" and now "Club Academy"). Other music venues on campus were Whitworth Hall and "The Squat". While the Main Debating Hall hosting jazz artist, The Squat was becoming popular among international acts. After operating for eight years, the building was demolished and became a carpark. With the music scene expanding in Manchester, there was a need for a larger capacity venue on the campus, in 1984, a proposal was submitted for building a concert venue, adjacent to the original Student Union.

It opened on 18 October 1990 and was first performed in by Buzzcocks. It was closed completely between March and October 2007 when a major refurbishment and rebuilding programme began, completed in early 2008.[2] It had had a capacity of 2000 and hosted about 50 gigs a year prior to closure, the capacity was increased to around 2,300 with the expansion and further increased to 2,600 in September 2013.[3]


  • Academy 1: Opening in 1990 with a capacity of 1,500. At that time, it was considered the third largest concert venue in Manchester. In 2013, the capacity was increased to 2,600. Unlike the other venues, Academy 1 is in a standalone building, south of the original Students' Union. The venue is often just referred to as "Manchester Academy"
  • Academy 2: Located on the first floor in the original Student Union building, the venue was known as the "Main Debating Hall". It began to host jazz musicians in 1963. Its capacity is 950.
  • Academy 3: Known as the "Hop and Grape", the venue is located on the first floor of the original building. Sometime in the 1980s, it was called the "Solem Bar". Of the four venues, it is the smallest, housing 470 guests.
  • Club Academy: The third largest venue is located in the basement of the original building. Originally known as "The Cellar" and the "Cellar Disco", the venue grew in popularity after the demolition of The Squat. It can hold up to 650 guests.


The following list is composed of musicians performing at either the old or new buildings, from 1963-present.[4]


Following the re-opening of Academy 1 in October 2007, University of Manchester Students' Union came under much criticism for large parts of the refurbishment being incomplete. Customers originally had to use portable toilet facilities outside, suffered long queues for the one small bar and had no access to a cloakroom.[citation needed] These problems were eventually rectified with the opening of the completely rebuilt foyer, which included a sizeable bar and VIP balcony and lounge (also open to customers with disabilities).[citation needed]


Manchester Academy has attracted positive publicity after being referred to as the UK's "greenest venue" with a third of the £3.5 million refurbishment budget going towards minimising the environmental impact and improving the sustainability of the reconstructed venue, as well as making substantial accommodation for disabled music fans.[5] It also received the title of "Best Entertainment Venue" in the 2007 MCR Awards.[6]


  1. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  2. ^ Acad refurb Archived 14 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Manchester Academy - VMS Live". Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "The green Academy". Manchester Evening News. 18 April 2010. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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