The Station Agent’s House

Liverpool Road, Manchester

Overview

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. The home of its Station Agent has become environmentally sustainable and accessible holiday accommodation in the heart of Manchester.

Extensive remodelling in the 1980s significantly compromised its original character and interiors, so our furnishings evoke the spirit of 1930s and golden age of steam. 

  • CotCot
  • BathBath
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • ShowerShower

Beds 2 Double, 2 Twin

Sleeps
8
4 nights from
£780 equivalent to £24.38 per person, per night

The beginning of train travel

In 1828, the 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.

World’s oldest surviving passenger railway station

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 as 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 and the Station Agent’s House became museum offices.

In partnership with the Science & Industry Museum, our restoration project makes the Station Agent’s House accessible to the public for the first time ever, marking a key milestone in the Museum’s plan to enable visitors to experience every part of the globally significant industrial heritage site’s seven acre footprint.

Today it is part of a new nexus of forward-looking innovation and technology in this exciting and vibrant city. The Grade I building meets the latest standards for environmental sustainability and incorporates features to aid those with limited mobility, including a lift between principal floors.

There's a lot to love about this Manchester Landmark. Delve further into the house's history, notable architectural features and our approach to furnishing it in our recent blog posts, below.

Furnishing the Station Agent's House

Five special things about the Station Agent's House

 

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Situated in the heart of Castlefield, the Station Agent’s House is an ideal spot for exploring everything that Manchester has to offer. Along the same street, you’ll find our partners the Science and Industry Museum, who are devoted to inspiring visitors through ideas that change the world, from the Industrial Revolution to today and beyond. Just around the corner is Aviva Studios, home of Factory International, a cultural space showcasing exhibitions and performances throughout the year. Two streets away is the National Trust Castlefield Viaduct, a striking Victorian-era steel viaduct, hoping to become a green ‘sky garden’ over the next few years

If soaking up the culture is the first thing on your Manchester to-do list, the city and its surrounding areas are jam-packed with an array museums and galleries to suit all tastes, ranging from The National Football Museum to the Silk Museum. From escape rooms to spas, distillery tours to Go-Karting, you won’t be stuck for fun activity ideas either.

A cocktail or afternoon tea at Cloud23 is a real treat, with sweeping views across the city’s skyline. Almost every cuisine imaginable can be found for a tasty lunch or dinner, to get you started, here’s Time Out’s 25 best restaurants around the city. 

For more information and ideas of things to do during your stay, check out Rick Stein's Food Stories in Manchester episode or see our Pinterest Map.

Clear directions
History

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.

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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 the finished goods back to Liverpool to re-export around the world. Travel was by canal, smooth but slow, and hard to manage at scale. Engineers and entrepreneurs applied themselves to this conundrum and in 1826 construction of the world’s first purpose-built passenger and freight line, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, was authorised by Act of Parliament.

The newly formed Railway Company began planning the railway route in the early 1820s, under the initial supervision of engineer George Stephenson. The only available plot for a Manchester passenger terminus was a house at the corner of Liverpool Road and Water Street, built in 1808 for John Rothwell, who was a partner in the nearby Rothwell & Harrison dyeworks. George Stephenson spotted this plot’s potential and it was duly bought by the Railway Company.

This well-placed, simple but handsome house 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 station’s infrastructure then radiated. In 1830, a viaduct and bridge were built by George Stephenson behind the Station Agent’s House to bring the track to the departures platform. The world’s first railway warehouse – the 1830 Warehouse – was built opposite, and then the Coach Offices (soon called the Passenger Building) next door. Other Agents followed on from Joseph Green and by 1861, Thomas Kay was known as ‘station manager’. 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.

Large crowds thronged the route, but the celebrations turned sour midway through the inaugural journey after William Huskisson, MP for Liverpool, met with a fatal accident. When the trains stopped to take on water., Huskisson got out and was standing on the track talking to the Duke of Wellington, still in his carriage. Amid the noise, he failed to notice the steam engine Rocket approaching along the adjacent track. It struck Huskisson, who died later that day. When the delayed convoy eventually reached the Liverpool Road station, a further shadow was cast on the proceedings by the crowd’s hostility to the Duke of Wellington, no longer as a popular prime minister, and he declined to leave his carriage.

Of course, the railway became a roaring success. 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 delighted that, “in a very few minutes we were flying through the country at the rate of twenty five miles an hour.”

Soon, the track was extended to what is now Manchester Victoria station nearer the centre of the city. Liverpool Road Station then became a major freight depot, servicing the Manchester cotton and other industries with commodities, and transporting away the factories’ products.

By the 1870s, the Station Agent’s House had been divided into flats for multiple occupants. In the mid-20th century, the ground floor was converted and fitted out as a shop, selling at various times sausages, automobile parts and no doubt other goods too. But by now, the railway was in decline.

After the Station Closure

In September 1975, British Rail closed Liverpool Road Station. However, recognising the site’s significance, talks had already begun with Manchester City Council to preserve the site as a heritage and museum centre.
In 1978, the whole site became what is now known as the Science and Industry Museum. The Station Agent’s House was restored as the first offices for Museum staff, but as the rest of the site was brought back into use, it was no longer needed, and the Museum turned to Landmark for help. The wider site around it has again seen great change in recent decades, host now to an awarding-winning museum complex and a vibrant new arts arena, the Aviva Studios, home of Factory International. Landmark’s involvement here is a thrilling opportunity to stay at the heart of the next chapter for this modest building that played such a pivotal role in the history of the railway and now lies at the heart of Manchester’s forward-looking ambitions.

For a short history of the Station Agent's House, please click here.

To read the full history album for the Station Agent's House please click here.

Restoration

After decades of later tenement and shop use, the Station Agent’s House was largely returned to its original form in the 1980s by the Science and Industry Museum (SIM). They removed the mid-20th century shop fronts and recreated the original fenestration and doorcase (the blind windows seem always to have been so). As a result, the exterior of the building now looks much as it did in the early 1800s, something Landmark was keen to respect. The interiors, however, SIM fitted out for office rather than domestic use and this had to be reversed.

Externally, the only substantial change Landmark made is to the rear beneath the railway arches, where a new disabled access has been created, linking to an easy access bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor. A lift has also been installed, ensuring everyone has access to the large first floor living space and second floor access to the former railway platform. Internally, there have been many changes over the years. SIM adapted the first-floor rooms as an open plan office in the 1980s, and were pragmatic in their use of materials in reinstating partitions and fireplaces. Landmark therefore took on a serviceable but very run down building that needed to be refreshed and upgraded for 21st-century residential use as a holiday let.

Energy efficiency is a major consideration, and working with the Manchester-based, family-run firm Walker Conservation Specialists Ltd and architect Andrew Wiles, we have done everything possible to make this Regency brick building efficiently warm. We installed an air source heat pump for hot water for heating and use and the draughty 1980s single-glazed sash windows have been replaced with bespoke spring-operated, double-glazed sash frames. Each window frame took Walkers’ joiners 4 ½ days to make. The 1980s chipboard floors were removed and new redwood pine floors installed with good thick boards.

The external walls adopt the latest environmentally friendly insulation, based on time-honoured materials. After stripping out the cold 1980s gypsum, a thick layer of sheep’s wool is the first line of defence, followed by lime plaster that incorporates tiny fragments of cork for better heat retention. To help this adhere, metal mesh was used for a foundation ‘splatter coat’, with two smooth ‘float’ coats to finish the surface. Great care was taken to ensure that new skirting boards and door architraves are appropriate in scale and design. All the ceilings have been fireboarded to ensure full compliance with the fire regulations.

At the heart of the house is a fine original staircase, its moulded wooden handrail curving its way up three floors. At the top of this stairwell was an unappealing, wired-glass skylight. This has been renewed and a new and contemporary oval skylight now crowns off the stairwell, more in keeping with the house’s Regency origins when such oval openings were common.

We decided that keeping the open plan first floor room was more practical for our visitors and better than attempting a speculative reinstatement of the original room partitions. Left open plan, the room also offers a fantastic panorama of the Manchester skyline. Here, the floor was re-laid in parquet, and new kitchen units put in at one end, made in Walkers’ joinery shop.

A new hearth stone in local grey limestone was fitted for the woodstove to stand on. And as a reminder of the lives of the earlier railway men who lived here, a small cast iron safe built into the external wall has been left in situ. At second floor level, the bridge onto the former First Class platform has been kept and Landmarkers have their own exclusive access to the former track, now being transformed into a highline walkway.

Bathrooms have been installed on all three floors, one with a fantastic view-from-the-bath across the 1830 viaduct.
For the last 200 years, the Station Agent’s House has proved a house of remarkable resilience, evolving according to need. Our furnishing consciously respects this: we have chosen not to furnish it as a Victorian station master’s house but rather as the hardy, adaptable dwelling it has always been, reflecting each present time. Since George Stephenson elected to retain the house even though it made it much harder for him to build the 1830 viaduct behind it, the house has been recognised as a building of substance worth keeping. It is a lesson in re-use and adaptation to bear in mind today.

Read more about how we furnished the Station Agent's House.

With thanks

Supporters of The Station Agent’s House

We are hugely grateful to the 487 supporters who gave so generously to make the restoration of Station Agent’s House possible. They include:

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

Mr R Broyd CBE, Dr J and Mrs J Bull, Mr M Caporn, Mr A Dean in memory of the late Carol Dean née Slide, Mr B Foord, Dr C Guettler, Mr M and Mrs C Seale, Mr M and Mrs S Simms, Mr P Ticer, Mr K White.

Patrons and other generous individuals

Mr N Atkinson, Mrs S Hands, Ms F Grimshaw, Mr D Holberton, Professor V Knapp OBE, Mrs E de Iongh, Ms S MacDonald, Mr K Stephenson.

Dr R & Mrs E Jurd funded the Landmark library books.

Gifts in memory

The late Anthony Calvert.

Charitable Trusts, foundations and organisations

The H B Allen Charitable Trust, The Nancy Bateman Charitable Trust, The Thomas Rawcliffe Charitable Trust, Big Yellow Self Storage.

We thank all who have supported the appeal, including other Guardians, Patrons and trusts, and those have chosen to remain anonymous.

Availability & booking

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A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.