The Midland Hotel, first opened in 1903, holds a lot of lesser known history behind its imposing glass doors.
The hotel was built by Midland Railway for Manchester Central railway station, the northern location for rail services to London, to house travelling traders. Did you know though, that the building, which sits opposite St Peter’s Square was rumoured to be a firm favourite of Adolf Hitler? A stark reminder of our city’s culture 116 years ago, he took such a liking to the building that he apparently considered it for Britain’s Nazi headquarters and it’s believed he even went to the lengths of protecting it from being bombed in 1940, ordering the hotel and the immediate surrounding area to be avoided and left entirely undamaged.
The building itself is Grade II listed, so we won’t ever see a lot of change to the actual structure of the building – but the interior has been changed and modernised a couple of times over the years.
Several Michelin star chefs have taken their turn at the helm of the kitchen in the restaurant, The French. It’s currently run by Adam Reid, who represented the North West on Great British Menu. This year they’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ last live performance with a nod towards British pop music – which somewhat ironic, given that The Beatles were famously refused entry to The Midland for wearing inappropriate clothing!
Throughout history there have been many famous faces gracing the Midland with their presence, including Sir Winston Churchill and members of the Royal Family. It’s even featured on family favourite Mancunian soap Coronation Street and has now become a social hub for its soap stars to congregate.
Interestingly for fans of the Rolls Royce, there’s a case to be made for the argument that we have The Midland to thank for these vehicles, as it was here that Mr Rolls and Mr Royce first met; thus donning it the birth place of Rolls Royce as we know it today. A plaque commemorating this momentous occasion is visible outside the hotel.
Over 100 years ago, the now mainly unused roof terrace was the place to be for the social elite, where black-tie events, as we would call them today, were held. Ladies would gather in floor-length ball gowns and bonnet hats and the men would don their finest attire to join in the frivolity on the roof garden with live music and afternoon tea. In contrast now, the hotel caters for weddings, events and afternoon teas all within the grandeur of the inside rather than the outside due to health and safety. Don’t give up hope though – there are calls for the roof to be reinstated for public use. For now though, we’d probably just find herbs for the kitchen!
So next time you walk past The Midland Hotel in Manchester, nestled between the architecturally up and coming buildings of a 21st Century city, just take a moment to think about the history and the culture that the building has and how much a part of Manchester’s industrial history it plays a part in.