The Station Agent's House

Liverpool Road, Manchester


At the dawn of the Railway Age in 1830, Liverpool Road Station opened as the world’s first purpose-built, inter-city passenger railway terminus. This building stood at its heart.

During a time of industrial revolution, this handsome property in the heart of Manchester became home to the Station Agent of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station. We are now carefully restoring The Station Agent’s House into accessible, environmentally sustainable holiday accommodation for eight guests.

Work began in May 2023, led by Landmark’s senior surveyor Linda Lockett and architect Andrew Wiles of Wiles and Maguire Ltd, with Manchester based, family-run contractors Walker Conservation Specialists Ltd. So far we have commenced critical work to the roof, saving and reusing original slates wherever possible, and commenced external repointing. Inside we are reflecting the late Georgian origins of the building, respecting the changes that it has undergone over the years yet introducing comfortable forward-looking living arrangements.

A black and white illustration of an industrial brick building

We are still seeking the final £23,000 needed to complete the transformation. With your help, we hope to open the Station Agent’s House in 2024.

Donate to secure the Station Agent’s House


The beginning of train travel

In 1828, this property’s site was identified by the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (under the initial supervision of Engineer George Stephenson) as being well placed for what would be Liverpool Road Station. The house became the dwelling of the first Station Agent, Joseph Green. The Station Agent’s House was the hub around which Liverpool Road Station was developed. Here, so much that would characterise train travel was first seen: waiting rooms, signals, tickets, ticket offices, and the station agent’s (later master's) house.

The small station at Liverpool Road couldn’t keep up with the huge popularity of passenger travel and the line was soon extended. By 1844 it existed solely as a goods and freight station and later simply a goods depot. When the station closed in 1975, the significance of the site was already understood and in 1983 it was converted into the Science and Industry Museum as part of a globally significant industrial heritage site. Station Agent’s House became museum offices.

Now, in partnership with the Science & Industry Museum, our project to make The Station Agent’s House accessible to the public and be used as a residence for the first time in over 100 years, will mark a key milestone in the Museum’s plans to enable visitors to experience every part of the globally significant industrial heritage site’s seven acre footprint.

Looking to the future

Today it is part of a new nexus of forward-looking innovation and technology in this exciting and vibrant city. Our project for a Landmark here will meet the latest standards for environmental sustainability and meet Visit England standards for accessibility. It will provide essential new use and access to the building, which marks the very birthplace of the world’s passenger railways.

We are incredibly grateful to all those who have supported us so far. Thanks to significant contributions from the late Anthony Calvert and the HB Allen Charitable Trust, along with 9 project Guardians, we have just £23,000 left to raise. Work has begun and, with help, we hope to open as a Landmark in 2024. 

Support the transformation of this extraordinary property in the world's first industrial city.

Donate to The Station Agent's House restoration


Making connections and transport links

The Station Agent’s House lies within Castlefield Conservation Area of Manchester, named after the four Roman forts built here because of an intersection of roads and the Rivers Irwell and the Medlock. It was this very transport connectivity that attracted both the Romans and the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (LMR) to the area. Prior to the railway, in the 18th century Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, his land agent John Gilbert and his millwright James Brindley, built the first modern canal, the Bridgewater Canal, through to Castlefield. The area became a major transhipment point and a variety of industrial premises developed along the canals and rivers.

SAH illustration 600x400.jpg

The coming of the Railway

Through the industrial revolution one of the persistent challenges was transporting imported raw cotton from the docks at Liverpool to the weaving mills of Lancashire and then back to Liverpool to re-export around the world. Travel was by canal, smooth but slow, and hard to manage at scale. To this conundrum the engineers and entrepreneurs applied themselves and in 1826 the world’s first purpose-built passenger and freight line, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, was authorised by Act of Parliament.

By the early 1820s, the only substantial nearby vacant land included just two small developments, one of which was 41 Liverpool Road, a house built in 1808 for John Rothwell, who was a partner in the nearby Rothwell & Harrison dyeworks. The newly formed Liverpool & Manchester Railway began planning the railway route in the early 1820s, under the initial supervision of engineer George Stephenson who spotted this plot’s potential.

John Rothwell’s well-placed, simple but handsome house (today known as The Station Agent’s House) at the corner of Liverpool Road and Water Street became the dwelling of the first Station Agent, Joseph Green. It was, and still is, the anchoring ‘pin’ around which all the rest of the railway station fanned out. During 1830, a viaduct and bridge were built by George Stephenson behind Station Agent’s House to bring the track to the arrivals platform. The world’s first railway warehouse – the 1830 Warehouse – was built opposite and Coach Offices next door. Although the house came to be known as Station Master’s House in the 20th century, in 1830 the role of Station Master had yet to be defined. Joseph Green was known as the Station Agent and the 1841 and 1851 censuses record the inhabitant as ‘station agent’. By 1861 this had become ‘station manager’ and the house had also been subdivided into tenements. We have re-adopted ‘Station Agent’s House’ as the most historically accurate name for the earliest days of the railway.

“Flying through the country”

The Liverpool & Manchester Railway opened on 15 September 1830, with a prestigious guest list, including the Duke of Wellington, then the Prime Minister. A cavalcade of eight locomotives that set out from Liverpool included Northumbrian leading the way, driven by George Stephenson, followed by Phoenix driven by his son Robert, North Star driven by his brother Robert and Rocket driven by assistant engineer Joseph Locke.

Large crowds thronged the route, but the celebrations turned sour midway through the day when William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool, met with a fatal accident when the trains stopped to take on water. Huskisson had alighted and was standing on the track talking to the Duke of Wellington, who remained in his carriage, when he was struck and injured by Rocket approaching along the adjacent track. When the delayed convoy eventually reached the Liverpool Road station, a further blight was cast on the proceedings by the crowd’s hostile reaction to the Duke of Wellington.

Within months passenger traffic on the railway was exceeding expectations and within just four years, travelling by rail had put local stagecoaches and mail coaches out of business. One traveller, known only as EWS commented that, “We then began to find that our progress was increased by every succeeding stroke of the engine; so that in a very few minutes we were flying through the country at the rate of twenty five miles an hour.”

The instant success of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway made railways an appealing prospect to investors and encouraged the revival of a number of railway schemes. This included adding a new stretch of track to reach what is now Manchester Victoria station and once that had completed, Liverpool Road Station operated solely as a goods station. This major freight depot serviced the Manchester cotton and other industries with commodities, and transported away the factories’ products. Decline set in only after the Second World War.

The use of The Station Agent’s House in the decades after 1845 has yet to be fully discovered; by the 20th century it was fitted out as a shop, passing through various businesses and selling at various times sausages, automobile parts and no doubt other goods too.

After the Station Closure

In September 1975, British Rail closed Liverpool Road Station. However, recognising the site’s significance, talks had begun to save the site with Manchester City Council as a heritage and museum centre.

In 1978, the whole site became what is now known as the Science and Industry Museum and The Station Agent’s House was renovated as the first offices for Museum staff, but now it is no longer needed. Standing empty and in need of repair, it urgently needs a new use.

Now it’s our turn to give this house a new lease of life.

For the last 200 years at least, The Station Agent’s House has pragmatically evolved, shape-shifted and adapted to meet the needs of the time. It has been a crucible for pioneering technological and engineering experimentation. Our involvement is a thrilling opportunity for the Landmark Trust to be right at the heart of the next chapter for this modest building that played such a pivotal role in the history of the railway.

Our Plans

Working closely with architects Wiles & Maguire Ltd, our plan is to create a contemporary Landmark property to accommodate 8 people, setting a new standard for environmental sustainability and meeting Visit England standards for accessibility. We will preserve the building’s external appearance and internally create two accessible ground floor bedrooms and an accessible bathroom. A lift to the first floor will take guests to a more open living area. There will be two further bedrooms on the second floor, which will also provide access to the historic passenger platform. Inside we plan to reflect the late Georgian origins of the building and respect the changes that it has undergone over the years. Station Agent’s House will be a wonderful place to stay right at the heart of a vibrant, innovative and cultural city.

Take a look at our proposed floor plans

Station Agent's House proposed floor plan.jpg



Supporters of The Station Agent’s House

We are pleased to have started work on site, bringing The Station Agent’s House alive. We are very grateful to the following individuals and organisations who have so generously supported the repair and refurbishment of this revolutionary home.

Guardians of The Station Agent’s House and other lead supporters

Richard Broyd OBE, Dr John and Mrs Judy Bull, Alan Dean and the late Carol Dean (née Slide), Dr Conrad Guettler, Marc and Carole Seale, Michael Simms, Susan Simms, Paul Ticer, Keith White.

Patrons and other generous individuals

Nicholas Atkinson, Brian Foord, Fiona Grimshaw, Sue Hands, David Holberton, Vanessa Knapp OBE, Mrs E de Longh, Sally MacDonald, Keith Stephenson.

Legacies and gifts in memory

The late Anthony Calvert.

Trusts, foundations and organisations

H B Allen Charitable Trust, Big Yellow Self Storage

We are also grateful to the generous Guardians, Patrons and supporters who have chosen to remain anonymous and to more than 400 others who have already supported the appeal.