Although Castlefield is more famous now for its tranquil canals, annual star studded Sounds Of The City line-up and alfresco bars, the area is steeped in rail history.
Liverpool Road, which runs adjacent to Castlefield Bowl, was once home to Manchester's first ever railway station. Inaugurated back in 1830, the station housed the original intercity passenger railway, which took commuters from Manchester to Liverpool by timetabled steam locomotives.
Situated as part of the station was a pale-bricked Georgian home that became the residence of one of the world’s first station masters. Now owned by the Science and Industry Museum, the Grade I listed Station Agent’s House at 41 Liverpool Road is set to be transformed into an eight-person, self-catering holiday let and museum, honouring its influential past.
The house dates back to 1808 and originally belonged to John Rothwell, a partner in a nearby dyeworks. Pre-dating the station, it became the blueprint around which it was built, with Joseph Green moving in as the first station agent resident in 1828. Over the years, the building became a shop, and the last recorded occupant was Liverpool Road station’s chief inspector Mr Fitzpatrick in the late 1920s.
When the station closed for good in 1975, it was later converted into part of the Science and Industry Museum, with the Station's Agent House used as museum offices. The restoration project, in collaboration with charity The Landmark Trust, aims to bring the house sensitively back to life by “creating an environmentally sustainable and accessible landmark” that will also open for free to the public on planned open days.
Working closely with architects Wiles & Maguire Ltd, the plans outline two accessible ground floor bedrooms, as well as an accessible bathroom. A lift will then take guests up to a living room space that sits alongside a further two bedrooms and access to the station's former passenger platform. Characterised by the late Georgian origins of the building, the Station's Agent House will be innovative yet respectful to the changes the building has endured over the years.
Liverpool Road station is said to have been the catalyst for practices that would later characterise the railway industry, including waiting rooms and ticket offices. The restoration is the latest development in the Science and Industry Museum's ongoing multimillion-pound conservation and development programme, which is extending the venue and opening up new spaces to explore the city’s industrial heritage.
Lying on the border of one of the city's most ambitious arts project to date, Factory International, the restoration of the Station's Agent House is a perfectly timed project that will no doubt be popular with passing trade. This charming yet neglected area is one that's certainly on the up, with Domus also currently restoring the Commercial Hotel opposite - an old railway hotel complimented by delightful original lamps.
The newly renovated home is set to start welcoming guests in 2024, with the Landmark Trust hoping to raise an additional £118,000 to complete the restoration.
You can donate to the Station Agent’s House project now via the link below.