Manchester Oxford Road railway station

Last updated

Manchester Oxford Road National Rail logo.svg
Oxford Road railway station entrance.JPG
The Grade-II listed timber facade of the station
Place Manchester city centre
Local authority Manchester City Council
Coordinates 53°28′26″N2°14′32″W / 53.4739°N 2.2422°W / 53.4739; -2.2422 Coordinates: 53°28′26″N2°14′32″W / 53.4739°N 2.2422°W / 53.4739; -2.2422
Grid reference SJ840974
Station codeMCO
Managed by Northern
Number of platforms5
DfT category C1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Increase2.svg 7.555 million
2014/15Increase2.svg 7.598 million
2015/16Increase2.svg 7.962 million
2016/17Increase2.svg 8.584 million
2017/18Decrease2.svg 8.558 million
Passenger Transport Executive
PTE Greater Manchester
Original company Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway
Pre-groupingManchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway
Post-groupingManchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway
20 July 1849Opened
Listed status
Listed featureManchester Oxford Road station (including platform structures)
Listing grade Grade II listed
Entry number1255053 [1]
Added to list24 November 1995
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Manchester Oxford Road from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

Manchester Oxford Road railway station is a railway station in Manchester, England, at the junction of Whitworth Street West and Oxford Street. It opened in 1849 and was rebuilt in 1960. It is the second busiest of the four stations in Manchester city centre.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. With a population of 545,500 (2017) it is the sixth largest city in the United Kingdom. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Manchester station group

The Manchester station group is a station group of four railway stations in Manchester city centre, England, consisting of Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria and Deansgate. The station group is printed on national railway tickets as MANCHESTER STNS. For commuters travelling from one of the 91 National Rail stations in Greater Manchester, the four stations are printed as MANCHESTER CTLZ which additionally permits the use of Metrolink tram services in Zone 1.

Manchester city centre central business district of the City of Manchester, England

Manchester city centre is the central business district of Manchester, England, within the boundaries of Trinity Way, Great Ancoats Street and Whitworth Street. The City Centre ward had a population of 17,861 at the 2011 census.


The station serves the southern part of Manchester city centre, the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, on the line from Manchester Piccadilly westwards towards Warrington, Chester, Llandudno, Liverpool, Preston and Blackpool. Eastbound trains go beyond Piccadilly to Crewe, Leeds and Sheffield. The station consists of four through platforms and one terminating bay platform.

University of Manchester public research university in Manchester, England

The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England, formed in 2004 by the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the Victoria University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is a red brick university, a product of the civic university movement of the late 19th century.

Manchester Metropolitan University university in Manchester, England

Manchester Metropolitan University is a public university located in Manchester, England. The university traces its origins to the Manchester Mechanics Institute and the Manchester School of Design, which formed Manchester Polytechnic in 1970. Manchester Polytechnic then gained university status under the government's Further and Higher Education Act, becoming the Manchester Metropolitan University in 1992. Today, it is headquartered in the city of Manchester, with additional facilities in Cheshire.

Warrington Place in England

Warrington is a large town and unitary authority area in Cheshire, England, on the banks of the River Mersey. It is 20 miles (32 km) east of Liverpool, and 20 miles (32 km) west of Manchester. The population in 2017 was estimated at 209,700, more than double that of 1968 when it became a New Town. Warrington is the largest town in the county of Cheshire.

The station sits on a Grade II listed viaduct which was built in 1839 as part of the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway. [2] To reduce load on this viaduct, the station unusually utilises laminated wood structures as opposed to masonry, concrete, iron or steel. English Heritage describes it as a "building of outstanding architectural quality and technological interest; one of the most dramatic stations in England". [3] It was Grade II listed in 1995. [1] Architectural critic Nikolaus Pevsner described the station as "one of the most remarkable and unusual stations in the country".

Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway

The Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJ&AR) was a suburban railway which operated a 13.7 km route between Altrincham in Cheshire and London Road Station in Manchester.

English Heritage charity responsible for the National Heritage Collection of England

English Heritage is a charity that manages over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places. These include prehistoric sites, medieval castles, Roman forts and country houses. The charity states that it uses these properties to ‘bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year’.

Listed building Protected historic structure in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

As a key transition node for both north-south and east-west transpennine routes, it is a recognised bottleneck and is the most delayed major station in the United Kingdom according to a Which? study in 2018 with over three quarters of services failing to depart on-time during peak time. [4] [5] It has long been envisaged since the Manchester Hub plan in 2009 that the station will be upgraded and in October 2016, a Transport and Works Act application was submitted to extend platforms at the station as part of the wider Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road Capacity Scheme. [6] [7] As of 2019, this application remains active but has not been approved by the government. [8]

The Transport and Works Act 1992 (TWA) was established by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to provide a system by which the construction of rail transport, tramway, inland waterway and harbour infrastructure could proceed in the UK by order of the Minister of State for Transport rather than, as before, on the passing of a private bill.


The station opened as Oxford Road on 20 July 1849 and was the headquarters of the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJAR) until 1904. [9] The station was built on the site of 'Little Ireland' a slum "of a worse character than St Giles", [10] in which about four thousand people had lived in "measureless filth and stench" [11] (according to Engels in The Condition of the Working Class in England ), and of a gasworks which was relocated to the west. The station buildings, which were temporary wooden structures, were accessed by an inclined esplanade winding to the right from Gloucester Street (now Whitworth Street West) to reach their north front. [12]

St Giles, London district in London, at the southern tip of the Borough of Camden

St Giles is a district of London, at the southern tip of the London Borough of Camden. It gets its name from the parish church of St Giles in the Fields. The combined parishes of St Giles in the Fields and St George Bloomsbury formed the St Giles District of the Metropolis from 1855 to 1900. It is the location of the church of St Giles in the Fields, the Phoenix Garden and St Giles Circus. With Bloomsbury and Holborn, it is part of the "Midtown" business improvement district.

<i>The Condition of the Working Class in England</i> 1844 Germany book by Friedrich Engels

The Condition of the Working Class in England is an 1845 book by the German philosopher Friedrich Engels, a study of the industrial working class in Victorian England. Engels' first book, it was originally written in German as Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England; an English translation was published in 1885. It was written during Engels' 1842–44 stay in Manchester, the city at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, and compiled from Engels' own observations and detailed contemporary reports.

There was a single platform on the north side of the line through to Manchester London Road (now Manchester Picadilly) and a second platform on a west-facing siding. To allow for extra trains in connection with the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, extra platforms and sidings were built, [13] but afterwards removed. A meeting of MSJAR contract ticket holders in 1863 included in its list of complaints the want of punctuality "especially as at Oxford Road station there is only one platform used for both passengers and milk". [14]

A season ticket, or season pass, is a ticket that grants privileges over a defined period of time.

From 1854 onwards Oxford Road served as the terminus for a service to Liverpool independent of the London and North Western Railway(LNWR) (one of the joint owners of MSJAR). [15] The rail service went no further than Garston, with the final leg of the journey being made by steamer, [15] but it alerted the LNWR to the possible use of the MSJAR by its co-owner, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) to reach areas west of Manchester. Consequently, in 1857, when the MSJAR began (the decision being taken on the casting vote of the board's chairman (by rotation an MS&LR man)) running an Oxford Road - London Road service, the LNWR took strenuous measures to discourage it. Every train of the service was flagged down just short of the London Road platform and not allowed to proceed further, passengers being told they were liable to prosecution for trespass if they got out. [16]

Goods going beyond the MSJAR were not handled at Oxford Road between March [17] and July 1865 [18] whilst some enlargement (and widening) [19] work was carried out.

The MS&LR pressed ahead with the joint lines to give it direct and independent rail access to Liverpool, [20] but the LNWR blocked any matching improvement to the MSJAR and to Oxford Road, only offering to let these go ahead when the scheme for Manchester Central station was brought forward. [21] To defeat the Bill for the scheme, the LNWR then promised to cooperate with the MS&LR in widening the MSJAR and enlarging Oxford Road. [22]

However, (the chairman of the MS&LR later complained that the LNWR had ensured that) [23] no improvement took place before the MS&LR had its route to Liverpool. In October 1874, with Liverpool Central railway station now open, a letter to the press complained that with the additional services over the Cheshire Lines now using Oxford Road it was dangerously overcrowded. In the two and a half hours from eight a.m., thirty-seven trains were booked to call at Oxford Road: this was far too many considering there was but one platform. Frequently, passengers were compelled to alight outside the station, sometimes on the siding rails, at risk of personal injury, because of "the blocked-up state" of the station. Furthermore, it was rumoured that the LNWR was planning to run a competing service (via Broadheath and Warrington) between Oxford Road and Liverpool Lime Street: if this were true, then it would further worsen the congestion, and the Board of Trade should forbid it [24]

In 1876, about twelve thousand pounds was spent on enlarging the station facilities, including the provision of a refreshment room; the station was then said to be handling about a hundred thousand passengers a week. [25] Train-handling congestion was eased when Manchester Central railway station came into use, and in 1892 the MSJAR, under pressure to greatly improve Knott Mill, rejected the suggestion of Manchester Corporation that it could kill two birds with one stone by replacing its two existing unsatisfactory stations with a single new, thoroughly satisfactory, station somewhere between them. [26] The MSJAR offered instead a limited reconstruction of the waiting rooms and booking hall; it also rejected the council's offer of assistance with providing a more suitable approach to the station [27] only to accept it two years later. [28]

Press articles on the golden jubilee of the line in 1899 noted that the platform layout was still that of 1849, and somewhat of a museum piece: "if the station were to be designed today.. it would have a platform on each side of the main line, an advantage which its frequenters know it does not possess..." and better use would be made of the space currently taken up by the terminal platform, [29] used principally for special trains, mostly those serving Old Trafford during the cricket season. [30]

Following the construction of the Windsor Link, the station was refurbished in 1988 to cope with increased patronage Manchester Oxford Road station exterior - - 824756.jpg
Following the construction of the Windsor Link, the station was refurbished in 1988 to cope with increased patronage
Oxford Road platforms 1 and 2 in 1992 Manchester Oxford Road, 1992 (geograph 5354071).jpg
Oxford Road platforms 1 and 2 in 1992

Reconstruction took place during 1903-04. The approach was further improved, and the ticket office and the refreshment room expanded, the MSJAR offices being removed. (They were to have been moved to an adjacent building, but this proved unnecessary: the 78-year-old manager and secretary retired at the end of 1903, [31] and administration of the line was taken over by an LNWR District Superintendent based at Manchester Exchange railway station) [32] :. An island platform was added on the through lines, [33] coming into use in November 1904. [34]

From 1931 it was served by the MSJAR's 1500 V DC electric trains between Altrincham and Manchester Piccadilly. From July 1959, Altrincham electric trains were cut back from Piccadilly to terminate at Oxford Road in two new bay platforms. The station's other lines were re-electrified at 25 kV AC. The whole station was again rebuilt and reopened on 12 September 1960, to a design by W.R. Headley and Max Glendinning of British Rail's London Midland region, encompassing three overlapping cones for the main structure. [35] The station's location on a viaduct running through the city centre required its load to be lightened, which the architects achieved by using wood for the station structure and platform canopies. [35]

When Manchester Central railway station closed in 1969, further rebuilding took place: one of the bay platforms was taken out of use and a new through platform provided (platform 1), the others being renumbered accordingly. In 1971 the Altrincham line was re-electrified at 25 kV AC and the 1930s DC trains withdrawn; from then on, local trains from Altrincham ran through to Piccadilly and on to Crewe. Oxford Road thus became once again predominantly a through station.

Use of the station increased in 1988 when the Windsor Link between Deansgate and Salford Crescent opened, connecting lines to the north and south of Manchester. This led to further investment in the station, including the installation of computer screens.

In 1992, the Altrincham line stopping service was converted to light rail operation for the Manchester Metrolink. Oxford Road, once served almost entirely by suburban stopping trains, has now returned to having many more longer-distance services.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004, the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, the platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000. [36] In 2013, the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit. [37]

On 10 December 2017 with the opening of the Ordsall Chord it became possible for trains to run from Manchester Piccadilly to Manchester Victoria. Initially an hourly Northern service operated to the Calder Valley, but from May 2018, the TransPennine Express (TPE) Manchester Airport to Newcastle and Middlesbrough services were rerouted through the station.


In the Northern Hub plans, the platforms will be extended to allow use by longer trains. The bay platform will be removed to allow the other platforms to be extended. [38] Under controversial plans much of the nearby area's Victorian character will be razed, including the Salisbury pub, and the group of streets nearby known as 'Little Ireland'. [39]


The station had become dilapidated by the 1950s, and in connection with the electrification and modernisation programme of the Manchester to London line in 1960, the old buildings were replaced by the current structure by architects William Robert Headley and Max Clendinning and structural engineer Hugh Tottenham. It was designed in a distinctive style in concrete and wood with curves bringing to mind the Sydney Opera House.

The station is a grade II listed building. [40] 'Pevsner' [41] calls it "One of the most interesting and innovative buildings of the period ... the most ambitious example in this country of timber conoid shell roofing" (p. 36) and "One of the most remarkable and unusual stations in the country both for the architectural form and the technological is the most dramatic and it is an important example of the deployment of timber to achieve large roof spans incorporating clerestory lighting."(p. 178)

The choice of timber was forced by the weak viaduct on which the station is situated; anything heavier could have compromised its structural strength. The station has three overlapping conoid structures although they are only viewable from above. The light conoid roofs allow for a column-free interior space, maximising space and reducing load. [42]

Despite its architectural acclaim, the structure began to deteriorate within ten years. The roof started to leak and for years the station's platform buildings were encased in scaffolding and other metalwork, partly to support the structure and prevent material falling on the platforms and passengers. Partial remedial refurbishment was completed in 2004.

Service pattern

A First TransPennine Express Class 185, at platform 4, with a service to Manchester Airport First TransPennine Class 185, 185135, Manchester Oxford Road railway station (geograph 4020146).jpg
A First TransPennine Express Class 185, at platform 4, with a service to Manchester Airport

This is reduced on a Sunday, most services operating hourly. There are various other peak services. All eastbound trains (those to Nottingham, Norwich, Crewe, Alderley Edge and Manchester Airport) also call at Manchester Piccadilly.

See also

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  45. Table 81 National Rail timetable, May 2016
  46. Table 49 National Rail timetable, May 2018

Historic England. "Details from image database (458646)". Images of England .

Preceding station  National Rail logo.svg National Rail  Following station
Transport for Wales Rail
North Wales Coast
East Midlands Trains
Liverpool to Norwich
TransPennine Express
North TransPennine
TransPennine Express
TransPennine North West
Manchester to Blackpool
Liverpool to Crewe
Alderley Edge to Southport
Liverpool to Manchester
Disused railways
Line closed, station open
  BR (London Midland Region)
Mid-Cheshire Line