At a lavish reception in their stunning Grade II listed St. Andrews Chambers building on Albert Square, Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have announced that the new Stock Exchange Hotel - the latest addition to their G&G Hospitality stable - will open its doors on the 15th November 2019.
The 40-bedroom boutique hotel is set to be the most lavish hotel in Manchester, and is located in the former Manchester Stock Exchange on Norfolk Street. Incredibly, it has already been accepted as a Relais & Chateaux property - the only one in Manchester and one of the first to have done so, before its doors have even opened, in the 65 year history of the most esteemed luxury hotel fellowship.
In lovingly restoring the Grade II listed building, Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and co-owner, former Malta-based Island Hotels Group CEO Winston Zahra, have spent an extensive time researching the Stock Exchange's history and, for the first time since the Northern Stock Exchange ceased trading in 1979, even brought together three former traders - Alan Botterley (93 years old), Jon Goldstone and David Cummings.
Gary Neville said: “When you hear Alan, Jon and David talk and share the memories they have of the building, you realise how important it was to them and what an impact it had on people in Manchester. The stories of boom and busts, of playing cricket and football on the trading room floor, the different characters that worked there and how they all felt when it closed. When we heard these things, we became even more determined to bring the building back to life and share the stories that it has to tell.”
The first stock exchange opened in Manchester in 1836 as a branch of the London Stock Exchange, with the intention to allow Manchester businesses to raise money for investment in the local area. It grew out of the boom in investment and trade, around the corner at the Royal Exchange - where cotton and cotton factory stocks were traded - helping the local industry recover following the Lancashire Cotton Famine of 1862, during which Manchester mill workers took a principled stand by supporting Abraham Lincoln and refusing to touch raw cotton picked by US slaves.
In Liverpool, a city made wealthy by the taxation it placed on cotton imports destined for Manchester's mills, they begged the Royal Navy to smash the embargo and it is even claimed that there were more Confederate flags flying along the banks of the Mersey than in the state of Virginia.
~ Advertisement ~
Following a crowded public meeting at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1862 - called to show solidarity against slavery, despite the resulting hardships felt on the local community - Manchester's workers agreed to keep supporting Lincoln's embargo, and with 75% of America's cotton sold to Lancashire mills, the Confederates were therefore starved of funds, helping the Federal troops to win the Civil War and bring an end to the slave trade.
Sadly, the self-sacrifice also brought the Lancashire cotton industry to its knees, and as well as sending aid to the city's unemployed cotton workers, Abraham Lincoln also sent a letter of thanks to "the working men of Manchester", in which he praised the workers for their selfless act of "sublime Christian heroism, which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country." These words remain etched to his statue in Manchester's Lincoln Square.
The self-inflicated hardship for the Lancashire mill workers would actually help fuel the booming trade in Manchester cotton mill stocks, and after the embargo was lifted following Lincoln's victory, the Royal Exchange would soon grow short of space, despite being the largest trading hall in England.
Eventually, in 1906, Bradshaw, Gass and Hope, the same Bolton architects behind the Royal Exchange (and whom three of the new hotel's £160-a night rooms are named after), were commissioned to build a second exchange that reflected the confidence in the city; resulting in the stunning Edwardian building on Norfolk Street, which continued to trade until the year 1979, when it was closed after the finance industry retrenched in London.
Until 2013, the building was home to Stock Italian restaurant, before being snapped up by the two popular Mancunian footballers, who originally planned on turning it into a private members club with a roof terrace.
During the Conservative Party's Manchester conference in 2015, the building site was illegally occupied by an anti-austerity direct-action protest group, which provided accommodation and advice to the homeless.
Lending their moral support to the squatters, Neville and Giggs made arrangements for the group to be able to occupy the uncompleted building over the winter months, before work progressed on meticulously transforming it into a boutique hotel.
With 40 rooms over four floors, including two signature suites - one in the original Stock Exchange boardroom, complete with original marble pillars, wood panelling, ornamental fireplace, stained glass windows, and the historic Stock Exchange vault - the top floor will house an exquisite £1,750 per night penthouse, which encompasses three designer en-suite bedrooms, a fully fitted kitchen with breakfast bar, two separate lounge areas, a drinks bar, stylish dining room, fitness room, and a private roof terrace, which offers views across the Manchester skyline (which will soon be dominated by Giggs and Neville's £200m St Michael’s development).
Of most interest to many though will be the hotel's restaurant, overseen by 3 Michelin Star celebrity chef and Manchester United fan, Tom Kerridge.
Following the high profile failure of G&G Hospitality's Rabbit In The Moon, Gary Neville explained to Restaurants of Manchester that he had learned the hard way how incredibly hard the Manchester food and drink scene is, and that, with hindsight, Michelin Star Middlesbrough chef Michael O'Hare had probably been the wrong choice of chef; "he's a brilliant person, a good friend and his food is incredible, but perhaps his style of cooking really required him to be on site, rather than having more than one venue (The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds)."
With the brilliant Cafe Football at their Hotel Football Old Trafford continuing to thrive, and having suffered the eye-opening experience of operating Rabbit In The Moon, the short-lived Mahiki and, to a lesser extent, Cafe Football at the National Football Museum and in Stratford, G&G have made the decision to now only focus on hotel restaurants; scrapping plans for two further O'Hare venues within the Stock Exchange (The Man Who Fell To Earth, and Are Friends Electric?).
It was whilst dining at Kerridge's Bar & Grill at the Corinthia hotel in London, that a chance meeting with Tom Kerridge led Giggs and Neville to invite the "Southern Mancunian", as Winston Zahra describes him, to join them in Manchester.
As a result, the heart and soul of the Stock Exchange Hotel will be a restaurant and bar housed under the magnificent dome, which for decades was the trading floor of the Stock Exchange. In keeping with Tom Kerridge's celebrated style, the space has been designed to be a social space where people can enjoy quality food in a casual and relaxed atmosphere.
In addition to this, private dining and a variety of events will be catered for within The Vault, on the lower ground floor of the building, and The Bank, an intimate private room and wine cellar with its own entrance off Norfolk Street.
Gary Neville explained to us that the cuisine will be "closer to the Hand & Flowers [2 Michelin Starred gastropub in Marlow], than Kerridge's at the Corinthia.
"Tom is a really relaxed, down to earth guy who tries to offer casual dining for everyone to enjoy, and he seems to get Michelin Stars without really aiming for them. That's what we want for the Stock Exchange," Gary told us, "It's very Mancunian."
Of all the openings in Manchester over the years, we can't think of any that are as exciting as this one, let alone, more guaranteed to be an absolute success.
This time, we predict that Messrs Neville and Giggs will most certainly be adding more accolades to their trophy cabinets. They've certainly put together the winning team.