The Science and Industry Museum’s lease exit is the next step forward in Allied London’s £1bn St John’s district regeneration scheme.
News of the lease end is not surprising, as Manchester City Council approved a deal in May to surrender and dispose of long leaseholds at several sites to developer Allied, thus consolidating the ownership of the St John’s district. The proposed leases were Castlefield House and the grade two-listed Lower and Upper Campfield Markets.
Allied said it will refurbish and regenerate the buildings to make business workspaces and an events venue.
Lower Campfield Market has housed a plane collection since it became the Manchester City Council’s Air and Space Museum in 1983. The Science Museum Group took over the site in 2012, naming it the Air and Space Hall.
However, the historic hall has been closed intermittently to visitors for maintenance and conservation work since 2019. It closed again during the second COVID-19 lockdown and never reopened.
Returning the building to Manchester City Council was “the responsible thing” to do, according to Science Museum Group director Sally MacDonald. She cited the extensive repairs needed at the facility, as well as the challenges in sustainably displaying artefacts there as part of the reason for ending the lease.
Vacating the lease would allow the charity to focus more on looking after buildings that it does own, according to MacDonald. That includes the world’s oldest surviving passenger station and railway house.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, stated that the council would be working with Allied London to develop proposals for refurbishing the site, as well as the neighbouring Upper Campfield Market.
“This creates an opportunity to introduce new activities into the Lower Campfield Market building to help support Manchester’s economic recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Leese said.
Plans for the Upper and Lower Campfield Markets will be brought forward in due course, according to Leese.
What’s happening to the planes?
Most of the bikes, cars and planes on display are being returned to their original homes since the museum only had them on loan. That includes the replica Roe Triplane and Avro 554 Avian IIIA, which both will go back to Ellesmere Port-based preservation group The Aeroplane Collection. The English Eccentric P1A Jet is going to Boscombe Down Aviation Collection.
The Royal Air Force Avro Shackleton is off to the Avro Heritage Museum at the old Woodford Aerodrome in Stockport. It is a return to the plane’s “spiritual home,” as the museum is on the site of A.V. Roe & Co, which was the company that originally made the Shackletons.
Staying at the Science and Industry Museum are the 1905 Rolls-Royce motor car and the 1912 Ford Model T. The former is currently on display in the museum’s Revolution Manchester gallery. The Model T will be used in future displays at the museum to illustrate Manchester’s motor manufacturing history.