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A window into life in Manchester almost two centuries ago

The archaeology of the new building

A fascinating glimpse of life in Chorlton-upon-Medlock at the height of the Industrial Revolution was revealed at the site of the building last year. The buried remains of buildings that were cleared during the 1970s have been exposed during an archaeological excavation.

This part of Chorlton-upon-Medlock was transformed in the early nineteenth century from agricultural land to a thriving industrial and residential suburb of Manchester. It all started with the development of the Chorlton Hall estate by a group of local entrepreneurs, who aimed to build a planned suburb centred on a grand new square that became known as All Saints. By 1819, the Salutation pub had been built and was surrounded by newly laid-out streets.

The foundations of a row of terraced houses have been unearthed. A glass floor has been installed in the new building so visitors can view the foundations and get an insight into how the houses were used.

The site was also home to the Bridgewater Music Hall in the 1880s. This was one of numerous small theatres that opened in Victorian Manchester.

In the 1900s the music hall was put to new uses, first as the Bridgewater Chapel or City Mission, and then as a boxing stadium known as the City Athletic Club, before being converted to the Bridgewater Electric Picture Palace in 1914. The interior retained many of the features of the theatre until the 1970s, but was damaged by vandalism and finally destroyed by fire.


Photo: Model of Manchester Metropolitan Students' Union proposed

& preparation


MMUnion’s £2m wish campaign: we ask, and you tell us, what you want from your union building


MMUnion submits a business case to MMU for the re-development of our Oxford Road building


The university recognises the need to improve our building and commits to invest £2m


Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the architects behind the new state-of-the-art Business School and Student Hub, appointed to carry out a feasibility study for the refurbishment

June 2012

The feasibility study finds the cost of refurbishing the Oxford Road building prohibitive, putting the project in doubt

July 2012

The Salutation car park is identified as a good location for the union, the university decides to invest in a purpose-built £10m building on that site


Site plan: Site of Manchester Metropolitan Students' Union proposed


September 2012 to January 2013

The architects use your comments, thoughts and ideas from the £2m wish campaign as inspiration to design the new building

March 2013

Planning permission granted

May-June 2013

Exploratory archaeological dig takes place on-site

June 2013

Contractors appointed

July 2013

Diggers break ground to lay the foundations


Photo: Manchester Metropolitan Students' Union hiding behind a tree

for the future

July 2013 to August 2014

Thirteen months for the build, from foundations to finishing touches. There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved in the interior design of your new spaces

September 2014

Welcome to the future: your new state-of-the-art union building open and ready to explore

Our current home at 99 Oxford Road was purpose built in 1982. Designed around the needs of students of that era, with a big club and bar space hidden away on the second floor, by 2010 it was no longer fit for purpose.

Students’ lives have moved on and you need spaces and facilities that meet your changing needs. With this in mind, we launched the £2m wish campaign to find out exactly how the union building could enhance your time at university.

What you told us reinforced our vision for the union’s future. To create a space truly fit for purpose and future-proof, that helps you connect with others, be it on an educational, social or professional level.

The refurbishment of 99 Oxford Road was quickly ruled out as financially unfeasible. Instead, the case for a vibrant, modern union that meets the needs of all students was strong enough to convince the university to invest in a new purpose built £10m home for students.

You can use this site to explore and comment on the new spaces, services and facilities that will be available from September 2014.

How to find us

Current address

99 Oxford Road Manchester M1 7EL

Our new address

Students' Union Cambridge Street Manchester M15 6ED

Get directions