The 1996 IRA bombing of Manchester centre caused wide scale damage to the heart of the city’s shopping and business district. It was this destruction that paved the way for a transformation. The whole area where the bomb exploded has changed dramatically in the 18 years since the incident happened. Old streets like Cannon Street have disappeared off the map and new ones like New Cathedral Street have come into existence. Cannon Street disappeared forever when the Arndale extension was built and New Cathedral Street was created to provide a clear and safe walkway from Victoria Station to St Ann’s Square.

Corporation Street came into the 21st Century with new, modern buildings instead of the the old and ugly 1960s brutalist style structures. The pretty hideous yellow tiles of the Arndale were covered in cladding to make the shopping centre look more appealing. The whole area was pedestrianised, Exchange Square came into existence and was the home of the Manchester Wheel for many years. Behind the Corn Exchange building a new green space was created in the form of Cathedral Gardens.

Here are 5 New Buildings Built After the 1996 Manchester Bomb:

1. Arndale Extension

Arndale Extention

Along with the Marks & Spencer’s building the Arndale centre took bore most of the damage caused by the bomb of 1996. Half of the shopping space was either destroyed or very badly damaged by the blast. A redevelopment plan was quickly devised and put into action, the first phase was for the southern half of the centre to be repaired, rebuilt and refurbished, it is estimated that in total this repair work cost £400 million. Once this was completed the second phase began which saw a partial demolition of the northern part of the centre in 2003. This included the old bus station which along with the rest of Cannon Street was covered over by a huge extension. This £150m extension was opened in 2006 and cost £150 million and is home to the largest Next store in Europe.

2. M&S Building

M&S Building

Another building that was damaged beyond repair was the Marks and Spencer store in the centre of Manchester. The decision was made to tear down the shell of the old building and completely rebuild the store. At a cost of £85 million a brand new store was built and today it remains the biggest M&S branch in the world. The building is split into two with M&S occupying one half and Selfridges occupying the other.  In January 2006 the bombed bridge that connects M&S to Arndale was re-opened signifying the completion of all building work, ten years after the bomb went off.

3. New Cathedral Street

New Cathedral St

New Cathedral Street was designed by international architects BDP, it cost £30.5m to construct and was completed in 2003. The street was the re-development of the area of Manchester known as the Shambles. On the east side of the street is row of commercial properties, of which Harvey Nichols is the largest by far. It is also home to the largest Ted Baker and Hugo Boss stores outside of London. Incorporated into this row of buildings is the residential development, No.1 Deansgate. On the west side there is a Louis Vuitton store in the building that is also the home of Marks & Spencers and Selfridges.

4. No.1 Deansgate


No. 1 Deansgate is part of New Cathedral Street but has taken the address of Deansgate, which runs parallel to New Cathedral Street. The building is entirely residential and is the tallest all-steel residential building in the UK. The building was designed by Manchester architect Ian Simpson and was completed in 2002. It has 14 floors containing 84 apartments. The building hit the headlines when it was completed after four penthouse suites were sold for £1.5m each. Famous residents of the building include Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

5. Urbis and Cathedral Gardens

Urbis & Garden

Urbis and Cathedral Gardens, along with New Cathedral Street, was an important factor in opening up Victoria Station to increased foot traffic. This whole area is (or was at least supposed to be) known as the Millenium Quarter. Urbis is the glass building that is now home to the National Football Museum. It is another building that was designed by Ian Simpson after he won a competition for the design. The building cost £30 million and was opened in 2002.

Urbis is located in Cathedral Gardens, an open and green piece of land that features landscaped spaces, trees and a big water feature. Before the 1996 bomb this whole area was pretty much under utilised and used as a car park until the regeneration of the area started in 2000. The gardens were also completed and opened to the public in 2002.

Do you have any memories of the day the bomb went off in Manchester? What’s your views on the city today after all the regeneration work? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.