Jonathan Schofield welcomes back a 'beautiful' holiday house in Castlefield

“It’s beautiful,” said a woman in her sixties after walking two metres into the building. She stood in the hall her eye’s sparkling, dressed in a vivid blue dress and repeated, “It’s beautiful.”

This had seemed a little previous but proved to be prescient. 

The Landmark Trust’s latest property is a gem. This is the Station Agent’s House on Liverpool Road attached to the former station buildings of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (LMR), now part of the Science and Industry Museum. 

The Landmark Trust seems very proud this has a ‘fantastic view from the bath across the 1830 viaduct’

The Landmark Trust, founded in 1965 by Sir John and Lady Christian Smith, salvages historically or architecturally significant buildings across the country (and some abroad). These are complete and whole-hearted resurrections, the Trust doesn’t cut corners, doesn’t scrimp: even a cursory look at the finish on their Manchester property reveals this. 

Then once the work has been done the Trust's buildings are made available for holiday rental.

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Entrance to the Station Agent's House Image: Confidentials

This property has eight beds in four bedrooms, two doubles and two twins. There is a beautiful kitchen as part of the first floor sitting room which also doubles as the dining room. The house is fully accessible and there are cute if small outdoor areas, one of which crosses a mini-footbridge into the Science and Industry Museum. 

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The main living area Image: Confidentials
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The cute footbridge Image: Confidentials

There are bathrooms on all three floors, one with a large free-standing bath. The Landmark Trust seems very proud this has a ‘fantastic view from the bath across the 1830 viaduct’. It’s a truth universally acknowledged we all like viaduct views from our bath. 

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You can see viaducts while playing with bath ducks Image: Confidentials

The study is a sweet space, indeed so tranquil I sat down in the leather armchair and read one of the books on the desk. At this point blue dress lady appeared and said, “Oh hello, it’s beautiful isn’t it?” I said, “It’s beautiful.” She said, “It truly is beautiful.” “I can’t think of another word to describe it,” I deadpanned. 

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The sweet study Image: Confidentials

John Rothwell, a dyemaster, built the house in 1808. The same year saw the formation of the Manchester and Salford Waterworks Company and the invention by Pellegrini Turri of the first practical typewriter. This was also the year the Slavery Trade Act of 1807 came into force banning the slave trade in all the colonies of the British Empire and the year British forces engaged French troops in Portugal and Spain as the Peninsula War began. Busy times.

The house was on the fringe of the urban area of Manchester with fields to both the north and south although there was increasing development down the nearby River Irwell. LMR acquired the land in February 1829 and when the railway opened in September 1830 the building became Joseph Green’s home. He was the station agent and his responsibilities lay next door where the station had been built at the Manchester end of the railway system that truly began the railway age. 

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An 1824 map by Swire showing the house in isolation at the end of Liverpool Road Image: Confidentials

The River Irwell lies a few metres away and this had to be crossed which meant the station platform was elevated. Trains don’t like going up hills so when a more convenient passenger terminus was found at Victoria that had to be reached by viaducts. 

It’s a curious thing that a decision to build the original station just over the river here meant that over time two thirds of a circumference round and through the city centres of Manchester and Salford is defined by viaducts and elevated stations. Unintended consequences of actions are fascinating. 

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The Station Agent's House on the left and the former railway station building Image: Confidentials

The house was let to non-railway tenants from the 1870s. It became a shop in the twentieth century and when the Science and Industry Museum opened in 1983 it served as offices. Now the general public can hire it for a city break.

Off-season midweek the price is a steal. It’s £780 for four nights which as the Landmark Trust’s website helpfully points out is for eight people £24.38 per person.

Outside I crossed the road to take a picture of the Station Agent’s House and the former railway station. Blue dress woman was doing the same. The sun was shining, the air was warm. She smiled at me and said - well I’ll let you guess. 

You can book the house here. 

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