The Printworks (Manchester)

The Printworks is an urban entertainment venue offering a cinema, clubs and eateries, located on the corner of Withy Grove and Corporation Street in Manchester city centre, England.

Façade of the Printworks, Manchester
Interior of the Printworks, Manchester
Interior detail of the Printworks, Manchester

Original print works

The Printworks entertainment venue is located on the revamped Withy Grove site of the business premises of the 19th century newspaper proprietor Edward Hulton, established in 1873 and later expanded.[1][2][3][4] Hulton's son Sir Edward Hulton expanded his father's newspaper interests and sold his publishing business based in London and Manchester to Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere when he retired in 1923. Most of the Hulton newspapers were sold again soon afterwards to the Allied Newspapers consortium formed in 1924 (renamed Kemsley Newspapers in 1943 and bought by Roy Thomson in 1959).[5][6][7][8]

Earlier names of the buildings associated with publishing that were incorporated into the development include Withy Grove Printing House,[9] the Chronicle Buildings,[10][11][12] Allied House, Kemsley House, Thomson House and Maxwell House.[13][14] Kemsley House on the corner of Withy Grove and Corporation Street was developed gradually from 1929 and became the largest newspaper printing house in Europe.[4][15][16][17] The site housed a printing press until 1986.[11] Robert Maxwell bought the property and subsequently closed it down.[18] The building was left unused for over a decade and fell derelict.


The property was subsequently redeveloped and reopened as a leisure centre as part of the redevelopment of Manchester following the 1996 IRA bombing.[19][20]

We placed a very strong emphasis on developing cultural and entertainment opportunities to broaden the interest and attraction of the city centre. We saw the Shudehill site as a prime location for a large regional leisure and entertainment facility. It will add massively to the diversity of the area, its attractiveness as a place to visit and will enhance its competitive edge.

In 1998 the derelict building and surrounding site were bought for £10 million by Shudehill Developments, a joint venture by Co-operative Wholesale Society and Co-operative Insurance Society which owned buildings and land adjacent to the building.[10][21] The building was renamed The Printworks reflecting its past history and underwent a £110 million conversion to transform the property into an entertainment venue.[21] The frontage Pevsner describes as a "weakly Baroque Portland stone façade" was retained,[4][15][21] and part of an internal railway from the newspaper business and its turntable for transporting newspapers was incorporated into the new floor.[4]

In 2000 the Printworks was opened by Sir Alex Ferguson and Lionel Richie as the venue for a variety of clubs and eateries.[22][23] The new 365,000-square-foot facility is set over four floors.[9][24] The new building features a twenty-screen UCI cinema complex (subsequently bought by Odeon and, in 2017, by Vue Cinemas[25]) which includes North West England's first IMAX screen, a Virgin Active fitness club, a Hard Rock Cafe restaurant and a Eden nightclub.[9][20][21] The external lighting facing Exchange Square has been changed numerous times since opening.[24]


The property was sold to Resolution Property for £100 million in 2008,[9][19] and was sold again to Land Securities for £93.9 million in 2012.[26]


  1. Powell, Michael; Wyke, Terry; Beetham, Margaret Rachel (2009). "Manchester Press". In Brake, Laurel; Demoor, Marysa (eds.). Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland. Gent: Academia Press. p. 395. ISBN 9789038213408. In 1871 Ned Hulton began to publish the Sporting Chronicle, the first of a huge empire which he established in Manchester, which included the Sunday Chronicle, the Daily Dispatch and Athletic News. Hulton's new premises in Withy Grove in the heart of the city became the biggest printing house in Europe.
  2. Jameson, Derek (June 2008). "Book Review: Skiddy row: Forgive Us Our Press Passes, by Ian Skidmore". British Journalism Review. 19 (2): 87–88. doi:10.1177/09564748080190021304. Retrieved 31 August 2013. At the heart of this other Fleet Street was Withy Grove, Europe's biggest print centre, owned in turn by the Hulton, Kemsley and Thomson dynasties. In its day this Victorian mausoleum turned out no fewer than 10 national titles ... Sporting Chronicle, Sunday Chronicle, Daily Dispatch, Daily Sketch, Empire News, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror (previously Pictorial) and News of the World ... Withy Grove dated from 1873
  3. Heys, Harold (4 February 2011). "End of life for the Chron". Gentlemen Ranters. Retrieved 28 August 2013. Withy Grove had a succession of owners, from founder Ned Hulton, to his son Sir Edward Hulton, briefly to the Daily Mail Trust and then to Lord Camrose and Viscount Kemsley as Allied Newspapers which became Kemsley Newspapers in 1945. Roy, later Lord, Thomson took over in 1959 and eventually Cap'n Bob took charge ... Withy Grove was eventually sold and revamped and is now the Printworks, a £150 million entertainment, restaurant and leisure complex.
  4. Boardman, David. "Printworks". Our Manchester. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  5. Tate, Steve (2009). "Hulton, Edward (1838–1904)". In Brake, Laurel; Demoor, Marysa (eds.). Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland. Gent: Academia Press. p. 296. ISBN 9789038213408.
  6. Porter, Dilwyn. "Hulton, Sir Edward, baronet (1869–1925), newspaper proprietor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34048. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  7. Smith, Adrian. "Berry, William Ewert, first Viscount Camrose (1879–1954), newspaper proprietor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30733. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  8. Smith, Adrian. "Berry, (James) Gomer, first Viscount Kemsley (1883–1968), newspaper proprietor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30731. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  9. Jefford, Kasmira (5 November 2012). "Land Securities to pay £95m for Manchester Printworks complex". City A.M. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Printworks was originally erected as Withy Grove Printing House in 1873.
  10. Boardman, David. "CWS Offices on Balloon Street and Garden Street". Our Manchester. Retrieved 3 September 2013. This web page includes various historical maps of the block enclosed by Withy Grove, Dantzig, Balloon and Corporation Streets where the Printworks is now situated, showing the various buildings which were previously situated there.
  11. "Chance find revives print glory days". Manchester Evening News. 10 August 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2013. The find has sparked a history trail leading to previously unseen documents and photographs of what used to be known as the Chronicle Buildings – once home to 4,000 print-workers, 10 million newspapers a week, and national titles such as The Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph.
  12. Reece, Peter (15 February 2008). "Treading on big toes". Gentlemen Ranters. Retrieved 4 September 2013. What the 'alleged' opposition did not know, was office space in Thomson House and its adjoining Chronicle Buildings was actually the cheapest in town.
  13. "Bill Hodgkinson dies aged 96 after rising from copy-boy to News of the World sub at Withy Grove". Press Gazette. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2013. At one time Withy Grove was the biggest printing centre in Europe and was variously known as Allied House, Kemsley House, Thomson House and Maxwell House before becoming The Print Works, an entertainment centre.
  14. "Reunion for headline pals". Manchester Evening News. 10 August 2004. Retrieved 4 September 2013. The reunion will include a tour of The Printworks complex, which went through a number of different identities from Edward Hulton's, to Allied Newspapers, Kemsley House, Thomson House, then Maxwell House.
  15. Worthington, Barry; Beech, Graham (2002). Discovering Manchester: A Walking Guide to Manchester and Salford. Wilmslow: Sigma Leisure. p. 30. ISBN 9781850587743.
  16. Boardman, David. "Arthur Rangely – Kemsley House, Withy Grove, now Printworks – 1929". Our Manchester. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  17. "Printing". Museum of Science and Industry. Retrieved 11 November 2012. Built in 1929, Kemsley House was the largest newspaper printing house in Europe, turning out 11 million copies a week.
  18. "Manchester in the Days of Newspapers". New Manchester Walks. Retrieved 11 November 2012. Maxwell, a boor and a bully, bought the former Kemsley House plant on Withy Grove (once the largest newspaper plant in Europe; now the Printworks entertainments centre) for a £1, simply to close it down.
  19. "Printworks-owner Resolution Property 'close' to offloading leisure complex to Land Securities in £100m deal". Manchester Evening News. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  20. "Oscar Winning Washrooms from TBS Fabrications" (Press release). TBS Fabrications. Retrieved 31 August 2013. The Printworks, designed by leading architects RTKL-UK Ltd, is an impressive host to leading leisure venues such as the Hard Rock Café and Tiger Tiger. In addition, the Filmworks offers a 20-screen complex featuring the latest cinema technology, including the first IMAX auditorium in North West England.
  21. Parkinson-Bailey. Manchester: An architectural history. Manchester University Press. p. 263.
  22. "What's Cooking at the Printworks (May 2003)". Sugarvine. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  23. "The Printworks Manchester". Manchester Restaurants. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  24. Planning Perspectives LLP for TAEL S.a.r.l The Printworks (8 September 2011). "Proposed Alterations to the Advertising Strategy for The Printworks" (PDF). Manchester City Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  25. "Vue announce opening date for Printworks cinema". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  26. "Manchester's Printworks sold for £93.9m". Newsco Insider Limited. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2013.