Manchester Central, (full name Manchester Central Convention Complex), formerly known as the GMEX centre and Manchester International Conference Centre (MICC), is an exhibition and conference centre built in and around the former Manchester Central railway station in Manchester, North West England. The building was granted Grade I listed building status in 1963, but has since been downgraded to Grade II* status.

Manchester Central railway station

The complex started life as Manchester Central railway station, one of the city's main railway terminals. It was built between 1875–80 and closed to passengers on 5 May 1969. The station served as the terminus for Midland Railway express trains to London St Pancras. The station's large arched roof – a huge wrought-iron single-span arched roof, spanning 210 feet (64 m), 550 feet (168 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) high – was a noted piece of railway engineering and is said to be the widest unsupported iron arch in Britain after London St. Pancras. The former train shed now provides a large multi-purpose exhibition space.

The G-Mex Centre

In 1982 construction work undertaken by Alfred McAlpine commenced to convert the former railway station into an exhibition centre, and the G-Mex opened in 1986.G-Mex stood for the "Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre".

In 2001 the Manchester International Convention Centre (MICC) was added to the complex, with an 804-seat auditorium plus breakout rooms and Great Northern Hall. During 2005 the company running the G-MEX and MICC was bought by Manchester City Council.

In January 2007 the venue was rebranded as Manchester Central, evoking the memory of the former Manchester Central railway station.

The building is currently undergoing redevelopment. The early-Eighties smoked glass front foyer has been demolished and is being replaced with an extended glass structure to house a restaurant. An additional entrance foyer and corporate hospitality suites are being constructed on the north side of the building.

Notable events

The G-MEX Centre used to host high profile rock concerts, e.g. Factory Records Festival Of The Tenth Summer in July 1986 celebrating the 10th anniversary of Punk (appearances of The Smiths and New Order) and Manchester's own James in a 1990 performance. In June 1992 Irish band U2 played the final indoor show of their elaborate Zoo TV Tour at the G-MEX Centre. The concert also doubled as an event to close down the Sellafield Nuclear Plant. G-MEX had a seating capacity for 9,500 people for end stage concerts. However it was expandable up to 12,500 for standing events. The G-MEX centre stopped hosting concerts in 1997 (the last one being performed by Oasis in December 1997), due to the popularity and size of the nearby MEN Arena which is Europe's biggest indoor concert venue. After a nine-year break, the venue began to be used as a concert venue in December 2006 with two shows by Snow Patrol, followed by two homecoming shows by Morrissey and the Verve. Marilyn Manson, Manic Street Preachers, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and Hard-Fi also held gigs there in December 2007. The venue continues to hold occasional concerts, including a recent gig by Placebo in December 2009, as well as five forthcoming gigs by Arcade Fire, Biffy Clyro, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Taste of Chaos Tour 2010, deadmau5 and Pendulum respectively in December 2010.

The G-Mex was also the venue for gymnastics, weightlifting, judo and wrestling during the 2002 Commonwealth Games. In September 2006 it was used by the Labour Party for their Annual Conference, moving away from the traditional seaside venue of Blackpool, Bournemouth or Brighton. In addition to the Labour Party, this venue has hosted such prestigious clients as the CBI, Ecofin, Lib Dem Party and, in April 2006, the Conservative Party. The centre also hosted the 2008 Labour Party Conference and the 2009 Conservative Party Conference and is set to host Labour's Party Conference again in 2010.


The centre is served by Metrolink tram services which stop at the nearby Deansgate-Castlefield station (formerly called Gmex but renamed in September 2010) and by National Rail local train services from Deansgate railway station. St Peter's Square Metrolink station is also a short distance away.

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings added a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com