> Kendal Milne tunnel under Deansgate 📍
An old tunnel opened in 1920 linked ‘Kendal, Milne & Faulkner’ buildings (aka Kendals, now House of Fraser Manchester) on opposite sides of Deansgate.
The rebuilding of the current listed building on the west side of Deansgate was completed in 1940 and the site was actually the extension to the original store on the east side (itself rebuilt after the street widening in 1873, and now Waterstones).
The tunnel is fondly remembered by many workers and visitors to the department store. Talking to some present staff there are tales of five or six other tunnels heading in different directions from the store.
I believe the former tunnel under Deansgate is roughly in the vicinity of the Men’s shoe area in the basement (indeed photos in Below Manchester show it being used for shoe storage), and was blocked off in 1981 when the eastern site was sold. Another short tunnel built in 1939 to take shoppers between buildings to shelter from air raids now takes shoppers into the rear area of the menswear department known as ‘The Annexe’, underneath an adjacent car park. The basement and sub basement of the present building were reinforced during construction due to the outbreak of war with space provided specifically for use as shelters for customers.
A correspondent writes:
I remember this was still being used in the late 70’s. It was wide and lined with recessed display windows. If I recall correctly, it was ramped down from the lift lobbies on the North side with a few stairs to connect with the South side building.. Another writes
I used to work at Kendal’s on Deansgate when their Food Hall was on the other side of Deansgate separate from the main store then. We accessed the Food Hall that was underground, via a tunnel that went from the main store side under the road to the smaller part of the store on the other side of Deansgate. I used to work in an office that was partly underground too. They sold the smaller store so assume this was blocked off.
Ladies’ and children’s shoe departments were added and sites became linked by an underground passage – still accessible, behind the scenes, from today’s menswear department, said to be the largest in the country.
The House of Fraser store occupies this monumental block of Portland limestone punctuated with vertical greenish glass windows. It was built in 1939, by J. S.Beaumont, as an extension to the Kendal Milnes store built in 1873 across Deansgate. When the new building was added to the store it, was connected below Deansgate by a tunnel.