Hidden depths at Manchester’s Arndale Centre

Arndale Centre, Manchester

Arndale Centre, Manchester

It’s unusual to find archaeological interest in the urban redevelopment of the 1960s and early 1970s.  Indeed, the redevelopment of town- and city-centres in that period more often obliterated archaeology than created it.

And it’s even more surprising to read of an archaeological find associated with Manchester’s unloved Arndale Centre (Hugh Wilson and Lewis Womersley 1972-9).

Two Manchester academics, Martin Dodge and Richard Brook, have identified an otherwise inexplicable void beneath the Centre that appears to be the basis for a station – possibly to be named ‘Royal Exchange’ – for the aborted 1970s Picc-Vic rail-link that would have been Manchester’s equivalent of Liverpool’s Merseyrail loop.

Their discovery was reported in the Architects’ Journal, March 13th 2012:  http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/astragal/manchester-unearths-forgotten-1970s-tube-line/8627773.article.

The same article mentions the Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange, “Manchester’s best-kept secret”:  for the low-down on that, see the Wikipedia article [Guardian telephone exchange – Wikipedia] and its attached external links.

The images from Martin Dodge’s 2014 PowerPoint presentation, ‘Tunnels under Manchester:  mapping the Cold War “Guardian” underground telephone exchange’ are available online.

For the equivalent “Birmingham’s best-kept secret”, the Anchor Telephone Exchange, see http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/b/birmingham_anchor_exchange/index.html.

Peter Laurie, in his seminal Beneath the City Streets (Allen Lane 1970), was right when he pointed out how easily British governments have excavated thousands of tons of spoil, pumped in vast quantities of concrete and established secret bunkers and command-bases, literally under the noses of the public.

2 thoughts on “Hidden depths at Manchester’s Arndale Centre

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