Our History

Storytellers & Talent Spotters

Manchester Craft & Design Centre is located in a Victorian former fish and poultry market building in Manchester’s Northern Quarter; at the heart of an innovative creative community.

The premises is owned by Manchester City Council and has been in operation as a venue for craft since 1982, in part leading the vanguard of regeneration in the Northern Quarter to its place today as a independent, creative quarter of the city. In fact the very phrase ‘The Northern Quarter’ was coined in our building!

The building began life in 1873 as a retail fish market. The historic Smithfield wholesale fish market, behind us on High Street, was built at the same time. Trading at the market ceased in 1973, and you can still see two of the original fishmongers’ booths on the ground floor. The disused fish market was converted into Manchester Craft Village by Manchester City Council, and first opened its doors to the public in 1982. Initially operating as an artists’ cooperative, the Centre became a not-for-profit limited company with a voluntary Board of Directors in 2003.

During 2012 we celebrated our 30 anniversary and commissioned artist Lucy Harvey to gather memories and images that tell our story in an online archive. You can take a look here, and enjoy some of the stories told by local residents, early visitors, resident artists and market traders, as well as some great photos of the site over the years.

From fish market to bustling craft and design hub, we are proud of our role in preserving our historic building and reinvigorating it with creativity. We support the growth of successful and sustainable creative businesses, and develop new talent through our programmes and opportunities to help early-career makers. Over the years the Centre has championed top class contemporary designer/makers; whether through its carefully selected studio artists, exhibitions programme, public workshops or business development sessions.

We are talent spotters and storytellers. If you have an MCDC story to tell why not let us know!

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