Twitter recently announced a rebrand to become known as X, but many think the name is unlikely to stick. After all, it’s been Twitter for a good 17 years. However, this announcement got us thinking about which Manchester places that we refer to by a different or wrong name, despite the best efforts of marketing and public relations teams to give the spot a refresh. Without further ado, here are some of the most common places in Greater Manchester that no one ever seems to call by their official names.
1. Manchester Central
Referred to as: GMEX
Between 1986 and 2007, the former railway terminus was known as Greater Manchester Exhibition Centre, or GMEX for short. GMEX was a concert venue with a standing capacity of over 12,000 and staged gigs by acts including The Smiths, New Order and Oasis. However, 16 years on since a rebrand to become Manchester Central, the name GMEX could not be shifted. Manchester Central now hosts political party conferences in addition to events such as The Sustainability Show and Hyrox.
2. Toughsheet Community Stadium
Referred to as: Reebok Stadium
In the world of sports, sponsorship deals can change quite often from brands on team kits to stadium names. One stadium that has seen a fair few names in its time is the home of Bolton Wanderers FC, but to many it will always be referred to as the Reebok Stadium. Founded in Bolton, Reebok held the stadium’s naming rights from its opening in 1997 until 2014, when the kit and stadium name sponsors changed to Macron.
The sporting goods firm has also had one of the longest kit partnerships in English football history with Bolton Wanderers, hence the name hasn’t really budged. In 2018, the University of Bolton had the stadium naming rights, however more recently the ground has being named after local building material supplier, Toughsheet.
3. AO Arena
Referred to as: MEN Arena/NYNEX
Another Manchester venue which has had multiple names over the years is the AO Arena. The arena was constructed as part of the city’s unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics and started as the NYNEX Arena between 1995 and 1998 and sponsored by an American telephone company.
The music and sports venue went on to be sponsored by the Manchester Evening News (MEN) newspaper, with a sponsorship lasting 13 years. Then the arena was then sponsored by Phones4U before the business went bust in 2015, renaming the arena back to Manchester Arena. In 2020, it became the AO Arena as part of a five year sponsorship deal by the online electricals retailer.
4. House of Fraser
Referred to as: Kendals
The department store on Deansgate, is one of the places in Manchester which has gone by a fair few names – Kendal Milne, Kendal, Milne & Co, Kendal, Milne & Faulkner, Harrods or Watts – so we wouldn’t blame you if you said the wrong name. The store is located in a purpose-built, Grade II listed, Art Deco building designed by Harrods’ in-house architect, with 280,000 sq ft of retail space, making it Manchester’s largest department store (the previous largest being Debenhams on Market Street until its closure in 2021). Bought by Harrods in 1919, the building’s name swiftly reverted to Kendal Milne following protests from customers and staff.
However, the Harrods group, along with Kendals, was taken over by House of Fraser in 1959. The store continued trading as Kendals until 2005, when it was renamed House of Fraser Manchester following an extensive refurbishment. Despite the re-branding of Kendals, the ‘Kendal, Milne and Co’ name is still clearly visible on marble fascias above the store’s entrances.
5. HM Prison Manchester
Referred to as: Strangeways
Built on the grounds of Strangeways Park and Gardens, the prison was named after this location however is now officially known as HM Prison Manchester. After a major riot which took place at the prison in 1990, the building was rebuilt and then renamed. However despite a rebuild costing £80m, the prison continues to be named after the local area of Strangeways.
6. Hollings Building
Referred to as: The Toast Rack
One of the most iconic buildings in Fallowfield, Hollings Building is known as the Toast Rack due to its unique shape. Designed by city architect L.C. Howitt, the building was completed in 1960 as the Domestic Trades College, which became part of Manchester Polytechnic then Manchester Metropolitan University until closure of the “Hollings Campus” in 2013. Another Grade II listed building, the modernist design features parabolic (curved) concrete arches on top similar to a Toblerone and leading people to call it the Toast Rack and many continue to do so.
7. A635 (M)
Referred to as: The Mancunian Way
Manchester’s highway, better known as the Mancunian Way, is called the A57(M) on road signs but it’s not generally known that part of the road is officially designated the A635(M). This road starts from just past Brook Street and stretches to the eastern end of the flyover, including the famous sinkhole. At just 300m long, this part is believed to be the shortest motorway in Britain, according to the website Pathetic Motorways.
8. National Football Museum
Referred to as: Urbis
Opening as part of the redevelopment of Exchange Square back in 2002, Urbis was a museum and exhibition centre intended to showcase inner-city life. However, the museum did not quite succeed how they intended and admission fees were scrapped to draw people in to visit. In 2010, Urbis closed and became the home of the National Football Museum in 2012, having moved from Deepdale in Preston, Lancashire.
9. Trafford General Hospital
Referred to as: Park Hospital
Park Hospital has a lot of significance as this was where the National Health Service (NHS) began. On July 5th, 1948 at Park Hospital in Davyhulme, the idea of making healthcare no longer exclusive to those who could afford it, but to make it accessible to everyone was born.
The NHS was launched by the then Minister of Health in Clement Attlee’s post-war government, Aneurin “Nye” Bevan, at the Manchester hospital, which he symbolically received the keys to. The facility was renamed Trafford General Hospital in 1988, however the most likely reason many refer to it by Park Hospital still to this day is due to being the birthplace of the NHS.
Referred to as: The Co-op/ Angel Meadows
Redevelopment works were carried out around The Co-op‘s city centre headquarters five years ago which would create a new district – NOMA. An abbreviation of ‘North Manchester’, it’s one of the many places in Manchester that didn’t really catch on and instead goes by the wrong name.
But as the area has been redeveloped, including the transformation of music venue New Century Hall, perhaps with time this may change. With Angel Meadow Park located behind the Co-op building, people have also been known to call the area Angel Meadows too.