Saturday, 20 March 2010

Salford Quays – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Salford Quays is on the site of the old Manchester Docks – I see some people rushing to an atlas as they were sure that Manchester (UK) is not on the coast. Come to that, neither of the two Manchesters I know of in the US are either.
This one is definitely the one in England and is on The Manchester Ship Canal, which was once the third busiest port in England, after London and Liverpool.
Manchester_Dock_No_9Manchester Docks c1900 
Times change. The growth of container ships, the change to sourcing grain from Europe instead of America and, most of all, the decline of the cotton trade in England caused a catastrophic decline in trade and in 1982 they were closed.
In 1983, Salford City Council purchased the site and planned to develop them to allow ships up to 12,500 tons to come close to Manchester centre.
What do we have now?
Let’s start with the good.
A derelict area has been given a new purpose.
There are some beautiful buildings in a lovely setting.
P1000726 It has given a sense of purpose to many people. There is an elegant footbridge (named ‘The Lowry Footbridge’ – more of that later).
 Lowry Footbridge P1000703 P1000675
As I approached, lo and behold – the bridge started to open.

P1000657Alas, no ship was in sight.greasing the cableAfter I had crossed the bridge and the workmen had descended, I asked them what they were doing.  They were greasing the cables and the evidence was spattered all over their overalls and faces. Their obvious delight in being asked spilled over into the information that they had worked on the building of the bridge and pointing out where two new swing bridges are being built. They were so pleased to be asked and their beams as I thanked them for opening the bridge for me, made up for a lot of other faults in the area.
The Bad
NO signposting – we stumbled across the Lowry Centre and the Imperial War Museum – supposedly the top tourist attractions.
NO obvious help for the disabled – we (first time visitors) advised a couple in the car park on disabled access!
A sterile, soulless feel to the place. All trees and plants were regimented and confined, vast stretches of paving, looking empty and forlorn.
Hard Landscape P1000695
Why didn’t they do more to stress the heritage of the docks. They have a Lowry Centre which is an Art Gallery/Theatre. A Lowry footbridge and – they have this

P1000652A discount shopping centre with all the charm, inside and out, of any out of town Mall – located opposite the Lowry Centre on Lowry Plaza. 
The Ugly
OK, so call me a philistine if you like but the Lowry Centre is an eyesore.
P1000681Yes, it really does lean like that. The structure in front is ‘a nod to a tidal barrier. It is clad in metal shingles and, in my opinion, is Post Soviet Brutal architecture.
It was Friday morning and all the rubbish bins were overflowing. Worse still was this floating in the corner of an attractive stretch of water.
P1000725 I know that the people who have dropped the stuff in the water are to blame but it hardly gives a good impression to leave it there.
To sum up.
Did we enjoy our visit?  Yes, though two hours was probably enough.
Would we go back? Yes, to go inside the Lowry Centre – but only because it is nearby (around 35 miles).
More pictures on Picasa


  1. As a Salfordian by birth, The Quays is the one part of the city that I'm proud of, and I have to say that so far as The Lowry is concerned (They dropped 'Centre" even before it opened) we must agree to differ; I find it visually powerful and pleasing.

  2. Sorry, I got the name of The Lowry wrong. It's still coming up as 'Centre' in some publications. As for the architecture, it's a good thing we don't all like the same designs or there would never be anything new.

  3. Beautiful banner at your site as well, I am reminded of some wall paintings by the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, such as this one You browse more murals of his at


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