The History of the Royal Arcade Exchange, Manchester

 The History of the Royal Arcade Exchange, Manchester

Diamond Heaven explore the history of their Manchester store’s surroundings.

In 2016, Diamond Heaven opened their third jewellery store in Manchester. Located in The Royal Arcade Exchange near St Anne's Square. Our Manchester jewellery store offers a plethora of services from repairing to resizing, polishing and so much more. The Royal Arcade Exchange, Manchester is the perfect place for Diamond Heaven - read on to find out about the rich history that this Grade II listed building has to offer.

18th Century

The Royal Arcade Exchange didn't always have sparkling diamond engagement rings, stunning diamond pendants or wedding bands. In fact, the Royal Exchange had its roots in the cotton trade. During 18th Century England, the Liverpool Cotton Exchange traded in imported raw cotton. This trade was part the slave trade,  African slaves were transported to America where the cotton was grown and then exported to Liverpool, where the raw cotton was sold. The raw cotton was processed in Manchester and the surrounding the cotton towns and Manchester Royal Exchange traded in spun yarn and other goods. The first exchange opened in 1729 and closed at the end of the 18th century.

Architect Thomas Harrison designed the new exchange of 1809 at the junction of Market Street and Exchange Street. The new classic style exchange had two storeys above a basement and was constructed in Runcorn stone. The members' library had more than 15,000 books. Manchester's cotton dealers and manufacturers trading from the Royal Exchange earned the city the name, Cottonopolis.

World War II

During the Second World War (1939 - 1945) the Exchange took a direct hit from a bomb during a German air raid in the Manchester Blitz. The top of the clock tower had been destroyed and was replaced with a simpler form. A smaller trading area was also rebuilt. After trading had stopped in 1968, the building was threatened with demolition.


Up until 1973 the building was empty. It then became the home of a theatre company. Three years later, the Royal Exchange Theatre was founded in 1976 by Michael Elliott, Caspar Wrede, Richard Negri, James Maxwell and Braham Murray.

IRA Bombings

The Royal Exchange was once again damaged when an IRA bomb exploded on Corporation Street less than 50 yards away. The explosion happened on 15 June 1996, and caused the dome to move. However, the main structure was undamaged. Repairs cost £32 million and took over two years. It was paid  for by the National Lottery.

Theatre of the Year Award

Three years after the IRA bombings,  the Royal Exchange was awarded 'Theatre of the Year' in the Barclays Theatre Awards, in recognition of its refurbishment and ambitious re-opening season.

It was then awarded Regional Theatre of the Year by The Stage in 2016. In announcing the award. Two years later, the Royal Exchange Young Company won the "School of the Year" award at The Stage Awards 2018.

The Royal Exchange Arcade is a public route which passes under the building. This is where you'll find Diamond Heaven, Manchester! Why not visit our showroom today?