Mackie Mayor

From forgotten to found. 

Muse Developments
Completed 2017
Hotels & Leisure
People eating in a dining hall.

Built in 1858, the Mackie Mayor was once part of Manchester’s thriving, seven-acre Smithfield Market complex, believed, at the turn of the century, to be the largest market site in Britain. The decline in market trading over the years however, saw the Mackie Mayor close as a market in the 1970s, briefly reopening as a skate park in the 1990s before becoming derelict and falling into decline.

In 2015, we were then engaged by agents, Muse Developments, to help with essential repair work, and to undertake limited restoration work to make the building safe and viable for full redevelopment. As the building had been derelict for some time, in restoring it, the main aim to ensure that it was secure, wind and weather tight, and in a suitable condition to be marketed for a variety of end uses. As such, the approach to the restoration has been subtle, with the finished result adding to the feel of a building that has evolved and undergone organic changes over time to suit changing needs.

Following this stage of work, a lease was agreed and we worked with the market’s new operator – Market Operations - to secure planning permission to turn the building into a leisure and dining venue.

People eating in a dining hall.
People eating in a dining hall.

Our response to the restoration was to allow the character of the building to shine through and be enhanced by its conversion.

One of the guiding principles for the restoration and subsequent development of the building has been to retain as much of the building ‘as-found’ and keep to low-key, reversible interventions, thus allowing the building to change and evolve in the future with minimal impact.  All elements of the historic fabric that could be retained were repaired, and missing elements of the fabric were designed and reinstated in a sympathetic manner. The central, daylit core of the building was left open to allow the building to be read as it originally was, and all modern interventions have been sensitively incorporated so as not to detract from the heritage.

People eating in a dining hall.

Innovative design was used to incorporate new elements in a manner that would not overwhelm or significantly alter the character of the building. Many of the new fit out element are salvaged or re-used, adding to the building’s unique character. A number of new build elements were also fabric crafted on site or by small companies rather than using off-the-shelf products and the input of those undertaking the work has been part of the design process.

The restoration and subsequent development of the Mackie Mayor has not only saved this important historic building from further decline, but it has also reawakened the hustle and bustle of its early years.

Its new function as a food hall builds on the building’s history, through a close correlation with its original purpose. Today the building is recognised as a celebration of England’s North West culture, sourcing food from regional suppliers and generating wealth and employment that stays in the region – much like the Mackie Mayor did at the height of its original operation.

Image credits 

Clare Harrison ©


  • RICS North West Awards 2018: Shortlisted for the Regeneration and Building Conservation Awards
  • Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce: Finalist for Building of the Year
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