Corn Exchange

Corn Exchange

The Corn Exchange was first built on its present site in 1837, but the building that we see today dates from 1897-1903 when it was rebuilt in two stages and according to plans drawn up by two different architects.

Its purpose was to act as a trading exchange – something we can see from the large central hall – but this function declined quickly after the Second World War. By the 1960s, it was occupied by a variety of wholesale and retail businesses, which were joined in 1972 by the Royal Exchange Theatre.

The IRA bomb of 1996 caused extensive damage and the resulting £8 million restoration programme made it into an upmarket shopping mall – part of the reinvention of Manchester city centre. Further refurbishment in 2015 has led to the Exchange being given over to restaurants and cafes.

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United Cattle Products Restaurant, Pall Mall

United Cattle Products Restaurant, Pall Mall

United Cattle Products specialised in what we might now term offal, opening shops and cafeterias across Lancashire in the post war years.

In its 1950s heyday, it had 146 premises, most of them fairly modest. The restaurant on the corner of Pall Mall and Market Street was opened in 1964 as their flagship store – a luxurious place that could accommodate 200 diners and which advertised itself as a venue for birthday celebrations, wedding parties and business functions.

The interiors were a vision of modernism, but with some striking features, including an inside fountain and waterfall, and a giant mural depicting a country landscape. The site is now occupied by Lloyds Bank, whilst the last UCP shop closed in 1972.

Terry Wyke, co-editor of Manchester: Making the Modern City (2016), recalls the UCP shops in Manchester:

“One of my strongest memories was the tripe shop on Market Street. As an effete southerner who had never come across such places, this became a defining part of the multi-faceted personality that was the north and which one described to friends who had no intention of making the journey.

“The letters UCP became fixed in my memory and in ever more adventurous excursions to Rochdale, Bolton and other towns I used to come across them. … I only ever crossed the threshold of one UCP shop and was expecting to be knocked back by the smell, but all I can recall now was the surprise that the shop contained a rather neat restaurant where people were eating the slippery delicacy with knives and forks.”

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Pauldens (Debenhams)

Pauldens (Debenhams)

William Paulden began trading on Stretford Road in the 1860s. A trade directory from 1877 lists him as a General draper, silk mercer and fancy warehouseman, which signals the origin of many department stores in this period.

His shop was large even then, stretching from 118 to 124 Stretford Road, but a new building was erected in 1879 on the corner of Streford Road and Chatham Street. This shop was in the vanguard of new technology – with electric lights, lifts, escalators, plate glass windows and motorised delivery vehicles all being introduced over the succeeding decades.

Sales were promoted through innovative window displays and the provision of in-store entertainments, including a three-piece band. In the 1920s, Paulden’s was taken over by Debenhams, but continued to trade under its original name. As was typical of department stores in this period, there were mannequin parades and special events at Easter and Christmas, including a farm in the basement where children had to guess the number of Easter eggs to win a puppy.

The shop suffered bomb damage in World War Two, but remained trading on its original site until 1957 when a fire, which broke out during refurbishment, destroyed much of the building. After a short period trading in the barracks opposite, Paulden’s relocated to the city centre, occupying Ryland’s Warehouse on the corner of Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens where it faced Lewis’s on the opposite side of Market Street. It was renamed Debenhams in 1973.

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