The station was built by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) and opened on 30 June 1884. It had five platforms with Nos. 1 and 2 being terminal and 3,4 and 5 being through roads. Nos 4 and 5 were reached by a wide footbridge. From 1929, Exchange had a platform link with the adjacent Manchester Victoria station, with platform 3 being extended eastwards to meet Victoria's platform 11. This created Europe's longest platform at 669 m(2194 ft).
The rather austere station frontage was in an imposing position at the end of an approach road which rose from Deansgate, crossing the Irwell river. The view of the cathedral and city down this road for an arriving passenger was impressive.
Exchange station served Liverpool Lime Street; Huddersfield; Leeds City; Hull Paragon and Newcastle Central; also Warrington Bank Quay, Chester General and North Wales. Local LNWR passenger trains operated via Walkden to Bolton Great Moor Street and via Tyldesley to Wigan North Western. It originally provided alternative services to London. Between 1884 and 1943, the Great Western Railway operated a service from Chester General station via Warrington Bank Quay to Manchester Exchange.
The station suffered heavy bomb damage during the Christmas 1940 Manchester Blitz. This severely damaged the roof, portions of which were never replaced. It was closed on 5 May 1969 and all remaining services were redirected to Manchester Victoria.
The site is now occupied by a car park but remnants of the footbridge and platforms can still be found.
By Road: Adjacent to Victoria Station and accessed up Cathedral Approach from Deansgate.
By Rail: It is adjacent to Victoria Station.
Barman, Christian, An Introduction to Railway Architecture, Art & Technics, (1950)
Biddle, Gordon, Great Railway Stations of Britain, David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 8263 2 (1986)
Biddle, Gordon, Britain's Historic Railway Buildings, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0198662475 (2003)
Biddle, Gordon, Victorian Stations, David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 5949 5 (1973)
Biddle, Gordon & Nock, O.S., The Railway Heritage of Britain : 150 years of railway architecture and engineering, Studio Editions, ISBN-10: 1851705953 (1990)
Biddle, Gordon and Simmons, J., The Oxford Companion to British Railway History, Oxford, ISBN 0 19 211697 5 (1997)
Biddle, Gordon,and Spence, Jeffry, The British Railway Station, David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 7467 2(1977)
Butt, R.V.J. The Directory of Railway Stations, Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0508-1. (October 1995, 1st Edition)
Conolly, W. Philip, British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas And Gazetteer, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-0320-3 (1958/97)
Hall,Stanley. Rail Centres: Manchester, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-2356-5 (1995)
Holt, Geoffrey. A Regional History of the Railways of Britain, North West. David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 7521 0 (1978)
Johnson, E.M., Manchester Termini, Foxline Publishing. ISBN 1-870119-30-4 (1993)
Lloyd, David and Insall, Donald, Railway Station Architecture, David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 7575 X
Rose, R.E. The LMS and LNER in Manchester, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-1708-5 (1987)
Simmons, J., The Railways of Britain, Macmillan, ISBN 0 333 40766 0 (1961-86)
Simmons, J., The Victorian Railway, Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0 500 25110X (1991)