The Printworks entertainment venue is located on the revamped Withy Grove site of the business premises of the 19th century newspaper proprietor Edward Hulton, established in 1873 and later expanded. Hulton's son Sir Edward Hulton expanded his father's newspaper interests and sold his publishing business based in London and Manchester to Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere when he retired in 1923. Most of the Hulton newspapers were sold again soon afterwards to the Allied Newspapers consortium formed in 1924 (renamed Kemsley Newspapers in 1943 and bought by Roy Thomson in 1959).
Earlier names of the buildings associated with publishing that were incorporated into the development include Withy Grove Printing House, the Chronicle Buildings, Allied House, Kemsley House, Thomson House and Maxwell House. Kemsley House on the corner of Withy Grove and Corporation Street was developed gradually from 1929 and became the largest newspaper printing house in Europe. The site housed a printing press until 1986. Robert Maxwell bought the property for £1 and subsequently closed it down. The building was left unused for over a decade and fell derelict.
We placed a very strong emphasis on developing cultural and entertainment opportunities to broaden the interest and attraction of the city centre. We saw the Shudehill site as a prime location for a large regional leisure and entertainment facility. It will add massively to the diversity of the area, its attractiveness as a place to visit and will enhance its competitive edge.
In 1998 the derelict building and surrounding site were bought for £10 million by Shudehill Developments, a joint venture by Co-operative Wholesale Society and Co-operative Insurance Society which owned buildings and land adjacent to the building. The building was renamed The Printworks reflecting its past history and underwent a £110 million conversion to transform the property into an entertainment venue. The frontage Pevsner describes as a "weakly Baroque Portland stone façade" was retained, and part of an internal railway from the newspaper business and its turntable for transporting newspapers was incorporated into the new floor.
In 2000 the Printworks was opened by Sir Alex Ferguson and Lionel Richie as the venue for a variety of clubs and eateries. The new 365,000-square-foot facility is set over four floors. The new building features a twenty-screen UCI cinema complex (subsequently bought by Odeon and, in 2017, by Vue Cinemas) which includes North West England's first IMAX screen, a Virgin Active fitness club, a Hard Rock Cafe restaurant and a Tiger Tiger nightclub. The external lighting facing Exchange Square has been changed numerous times since opening.
In 1871 Ned Hulton began to publish the Sporting Chronicle, the first of a huge empire which he established in Manchester, which included the Sunday Chronicle, the Daily Dispatch and Athletic News. Hulton's new premises in Withy Grove in the heart of the city became the biggest printing house in Europe.
At the heart of this other Fleet Street was Withy Grove, Europe's biggest print centre, owned in turn by the Hulton, Kemsley and Thomson dynasties. In its day this Victorian mausoleum turned out no fewer than 10 national titles ... Sporting Chronicle, Sunday Chronicle, Daily Dispatch, Daily Sketch, Empire News, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror (previously Pictorial) and News of the World ... Withy Grove dated from 1873
Withy Grove had a succession of owners, from founder Ned Hulton, to his son Sir Edward Hulton, briefly to the Daily Mail Trust and then to Lord Camrose and Viscount Kemsley as Allied Newspapers which became Kemsley Newspapers in 1945. Roy, later Lord, Thomson took over in 1959 and eventually Cap'n Bob took charge ... Withy Grove was eventually sold and revamped and is now the Printworks, a £150 million entertainment, restaurant and leisure complex.
Printworks was originally erected as Withy Grove Printing House in 1873.
The find has sparked a history trail leading to previously unseen documents and photographs of what used to be known as the Chronicle Buildings – once home to 4,000 print-workers, 10 million newspapers a week, and national titles such as The Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph.
What the 'alleged' opposition did not know, was office space in Thomson House and its adjoining Chronicle Buildings was actually the cheapest in town.
At one time Withy Grove was the biggest printing centre in Europe and was variously known as Allied House, Kemsley House, Thomson House and Maxwell House before becoming The Print Works, an entertainment centre.
The reunion will include a tour of The Printworks complex, which went through a number of different identities from Edward Hulton's, to Allied Newspapers, Kemsley House, Thomson House, then Maxwell House.
Built in 1929, Kemsley House was the largest newspaper printing house in Europe, turning out 11 million copies a week.
Maxwell, a boor and a bully, bought the former Kemsley House plant on Withy Grove (once the largest newspaper plant in Europe; now the Printworks entertainments centre) for a £1, simply to close it down.
The Printworks, designed by leading architects RTKL-UK Ltd, is an impressive host to leading leisure venues such as the Hard Rock Café and Tiger Tiger. In addition, the Filmworks offers a 20-screen complex featuring the latest cinema technology, including the first IMAX auditorium in North West England.