Being one of the biggest and busiest cities in the UK, it should be no surprise that Manchester boasts four train stations within its city centre. While we break down the other key stations in other articles, today we will be looking at the largest station the city has to offer.
If you have ever travelled to Manchester from elsewhere in the UK, there is a good chance you are already well acquainted with Piccadilly station. Situated on the intersection of Store Street and Fairfield Street – this station is unmistakable thanks to its huge arched train shed roofs.
Opened in 1842, this station breathed new life into Manchester, offering a selection of cross-country, and regional services. The call for greater transport was a fixation of the industrial revolution, and Piccadilly – then called Store Street station – offered new opportunity for travel, serving as an extension of the Oxford Road line.
However, despite its two platforms offering an alternative to Oxford Road for travellers looking to commute to the city, it would become clear that the station called for more platforms. Thus started a series of expansions spanning centuries, resulting in the total 14 platforms open presently.
This station has a history of demand exceeding supply, forcing developers to expand and facilitate an increased number of commuters until this station eventually came to overshadow the others in the city, becoming the principal station of Manchester.
Nowadays the station is by far the busiest in the city, and the 4th busiest in the United Kingdom. The station sees approximately 25 million passengers annually and holds the record for the most expensive station refurbishment, seeing a major overhaul costing £42 million in 1958, and further refurbishment costing £100 million in 2002.
What’s in a Name?
In much the way the building itself has seen major overhauls, so too has the name. In 1842 the station was opened in Store Street – named after the street it was accessible from, in 1847 it was renamed London Road, and in 1960 the name was once again changed to Piccadilly.
The name Piccadilly is one found across the city of Manchester (i.e., Piccadilly gardens, Piccadilly Road) and the word itself is rooted in trade. Manchester has historically been a key exporter of textiles, and as such in the Elizabethan era, the city saw a boom in the trading of piccadills.
Piccadills are lace accessories that adorn the wearers neck and keep the collar of a shirt or jacket stiff and in place. Therefore, locations heavy in the manufacturing and selling of these garments adopted the name Piccadilly.
It is a safe bet that this station will remain as popular as it has proven to be for the almost two centuries it has been open to the public. The demand for transport is ever increasing, and to accommodate this, a proposed ‘Northern hub’ expansion is set to add two new platforms to the arsenal, alleviating any serious congestion issues in the future.
Along with this proposed £560 million expansion, there are also plans to accommodate for the High Speed 2, which will necessitate the construction of four new platforms, and a 7.5-mile tunnel under South Manchester to enable travel at a much faster rate.