Former Grape Street railway bonded warehouse


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3JE.


Ordnance survey map of Former Grape Street railway bonded warehouse
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3JE.
Manchester (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former railway bonded warehouse, built 1867 to 1868 for the London and North Western Railway; it underwent internal modifications in the C20 and early C21.

Reasons for Designation

The former Grape Street bonded warehouse, Quay Street, Manchester, constructed between 1867 and 1868, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * it has a sophisticated multi-level design, and an impressive, well-detailed external appearance that includes good polychromatic brick work and ashlar decoration; * it is relatively little altered externally, and retains distinctive features relating to its original use including substantial ground-floor goods doors, and a regular arrangement of windows and taking-in doors; * despite the late-C20 and early-C21 internal subdivisions and modifications, it is understood that the principal original internal structure survives well, including cast-iron columns, jack-arch and timber floors, and a queen-post roof with the remains of hoists.

Historic interest: * it forms part of the legacy of C19 large-scale railway warehouses in Manchester, and is a good illustration of the transport heritage of one of the country’s most important industrial cities.

Group value: * it is part of an important group of listed railway structures including Liverpool Road Station (Grade I), the world’s first large-scale railway warehouse (Grade I), two further warehouses and stores to the south-east (both Grade II) and various listed railway bridges and viaducts.


The former Grape Street bonded warehouse was constructed between 1867 and 1868 between Liverpool Road Station and Grape Street (originally known as Charles Street), as part of a complex of goods warehousing associated with the former Liverpool Road Station (listed Grade I). The station was built in 1830 (the oldest surviving terminal railway passenger station in the world) along with a warehouse opposite (the world's first large urban railway warehouse; listed Grade I). In 1844, following the opening of Manchester’s Victoria Station, Liverpool Road Station became a goods depot under the ownership of London and North Western Railway. By 1851 two cotton stores had been built to the north-east of the station and in around 1855 a goods shed was built on the corner of Liverpool Road and Lower Byrom Street (listed Grade II). In 1866 a fire destroyed the cotton stores, which were replaced by the former Grape Street bonded railway goods warehouse. A further warehouse was built on Lower Byrom Street in 1888 (listed Grade II).

The former Grape Street bonded warehouse was a secure building where goods were stored in advance of any duty payments being made. The building is marked on historical late-C19 and C20 Ordnance Survey Maps as both a goods shed and warehouse and it is unclear whether it was used as a general goods store before it officially became a bonded warehouse. Originally goods were brought in by rail tracks, carried on a brick-vaulted viaduct which ran in front of the warehouse’s south elevation; some of the viaduct arches in front of the warehouse were used as bonded stores. There were three turntables in front of the large doors on the south elevation that directed the tracks into the building. Three further turntables were located within the warehouse, linked to an internal railway track network. This included a track which ran through openings in the east and west elevations and along the south end. The ground floor on the north side of the building was at a lower street level. In the late C19 a timber yard was established on the east side of the warehouse, and between 1890 and 1908 was replaced by two parallel rectangular buildings containing stables, stalls and a harnessing room. The warehouse remained in operation as part of the wider railway goods complex until 1975, after which the building was sold.

In the mid-C20 Granada Television Centre was established on the north side of Grape Street and by the 1980s it had expanded south to incorporate part of the former goods depot. The bonded warehouse was retained and converted to form part of the television studios which included the insertion of lifts, staircases, WC facilities and associated plant. The adjoining stables were also retained and converted into an experimental theatre with a performance space and a bar. New buildings were added to the site including those constructed above adjacent viaduct. The exterior television set for the soap opera Coronation Street was also built to the east side of the stables in 1982. In 1989 the basement and ground-floor levels of the bonded warehouse were further remodelled internally when the building was converted for use as part of the Granada Tours Scheme (the tours ended in 1999). Part of the single-storey stable range was converted to create a copy of the Coronation Street's Rover's Return, including a replica facade, to provide tour customers with a place to drink. Granada left the site in 2007. Since then parts of the warehouse have been reused on a temporary basis. The building is currently (2018) subject to internal and external refurbishment.


Former railway bonded warehouse, built 1867 to 1868 for the London and North Western Railway; it underwent internal modifications in the C20 and early C21.

MATERIALS: red-brick construction with blue-engineering-brick detailing including banding and quoins, with Welsh-slate roof coverings.

PLAN: the warehouse has a rectangular footprint and is orientated east-west. There are six floors including a lower and upper ground floor.

EXTERIOR: five-and-a-half storeys, with four storeys to the south side where the ground level is higher, beneath hipped roofs of slate. All windows have segmental heads, brick voussoirs, blue-brick keystones and reveals, ashlar springers and cills, and are fitted with metal multi-pane casements. Taking-in doors are timber with glazed uppers. Ground floor entrances are fitted with double battened timber doors.

The 12-bay north elevation has six loading bays arranged in three pairs, with taking-in doors to the first to fourth floors, and the remains of brackets for the hoists above. The ground floors of the loading bays have small window openings. The other bays have tall, wide, arched entrances to the ground floor, and arched windows to the upper floors. The six-bay west elevation has two loading bays with taking-in doors and three lower ground-floor doors. The ground level at the southern end of this elevation is higher and there is another door at first-floor level (formerly access for an internal railway line). The 12-bay south elevation has three large first-floor doors where the railway tracks would have originally entered the warehouse. The remainder of this elevation has a similar arrangement to the north elevation, but has three single loading bays. The east elevation is largely blind, with a regular arrangement of arched recesses and there is a first-floor door to the higher south end (similar to that on the west elevation). Part of the east elevation’s lower floors is obscured by the attached former stable block. The building has a dentilled parapet. At the top of the west elevation is a painted sign reading BONDED WAREHOUSE. Behind the parapet is the twin-hipped roof housing some C20 plant.

INTERIOR: it was not possible to gain access to the buildings, and the following description is based on other available information. All of the floors are supported by cast-iron cruciform and circular-hollow columns. The lower and upper ground-floor levels are also supported by substantial brick piers, some of which have blue-brick quoins and chamfer detailing to the corners. Along the southern edge of the lower ground-floor are sections of brick arches. The three lower floors are fire-proof constructions with wrought-iron girders and brick-jack arch ceilings. The upper three levels have timber floors. Most of the ceilings are covered in modern ceiling tiles. The lower four floors are subdivided by C20 and C21 plasterboard and concrete-block partitions to form office and studio spaces, and there are several C20 and C21 inserted stairs and lift shafts, particularly on the north side of the building. The upper two floors remain as large open spaces. The top floor is open to the roof and is topped by a twin queen-post roof structure, within which there are the remains of the original hoist machinery.


Books and journals
Minnis, J, Hickman, S, The Railway Goods Shed and Warehouse in England, (2016), 69
Oxford Archaeology North, Bonded Warehouse Water Street Manchester Archaeological Desk-based Assessment (2015)
Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture , Bonded Warehouse Manchester Heritage Statement (2015)
University of Salford, Central Village and T1 Site St John's Manchester Archaeological Desk-based Assement Report (2016)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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