'I heard a siren from the docks,
Saw a train set the night on fire.
Smelled the spring in the smoky wind,
Dirty old town, dirty old town.'
Salford is the neighbouring city to Manchester. Ewan MacColl has sung about it and LS Lowry has put its citizens on canvas - but what is the real Salford?
The City of Salford is part of Greater Manchester. It was pieced together from five metropolitan boroughs and includes the town of Salford and its surrounding suburbs. It lies north-west of the City of Manchester, and has borders with the districts of Manchester, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Trafford and Warrington.
The River Irwell makes up most of the border between Manchester and Salford. Starting from the south-west corner of Salford's boundary with Manchester at Cornbrook, the border follows the River Irwell just to the north of Manchester city centre, curving round with the river at Victoria station before the line leaves the river to encompass Broughton. Near Crumsall, Manchester meets Bury. The Salford/Bury border cuts west and joins the Irwell by Kersal. It follows the river around until it meets the Bolton border. After the Clifton Marina, it heads south-west along the M61 to the north of Walkden and Little Hulton until it reaches Wigan. The Salford/Wigan border then heads south, looping around Irlam and Cadishead, briefly becoming the Cheshire border before meeting the district of Trafford at the Manchester Ship Canal. The Salford/Trafford border runs north-east along the ship canal and through the docks until it reaches Cornbrook.
The City of Salford is made up of the old districts of Salford, Eccles, Irlam & Cadishead, Worsley and Swinton & Pendlebury.
A small village on the north bank of the River Irwell was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of 923. It became an important place in the region and gave its name to the Salford Hundred1. King Henry III granted Salford the right to hold a market and a fair in 1228. A few years later, the Earl of Chester made the town a free borough.
The manor of Salford passed in and out of the crown's hands over the centuries. It was owned by Edward the Confessor in 1066. William the Conqueror granted the land to Roger de Poitou. It was Roger de Poitou who created the subordinate manor of Manchester, thereby sowing the seeds of the city that would come to engulf Salford. It is part of the Duchy of Lancaster and so has been a crown possession since 1399.
The town of Salford grew slowly until the Industrial Revolution. With coal in the hills and canal links to the sea and other major cities, the town and its cloth trade thrived. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894 bringing a massive increase to trade going through the city. By the end of the 19th Century the population of Salford had grown to 200,000 people, most of whom lived in cramped housing.
The town of Salford was merged with Broughton in 1844. Pendleton and Pendlebury merged into Salford in 1853. Salford became a city in 1926. The current city made up of the five old districts was formed in 1974.
The Coat of Arms of Salford
The Coat of Arms of Salford has contributions from each of the five districts that make up the city.
The borough of Salford provided the major colours of gold and blue. It also provided the gold shuttle and bees and the two black millrinds2 which signify the industrial communities of the textile industry and the engineering of the city.
Eccles provides the ship motive signifying the waterways and the griffin holding a flag.
Irlam provides the circle of steel around the griffin showing the industry of Salford.
Swinton and Pendlebury provide the supporting lions brandishing minors picks, each collared by steel chains. One lion wears a medallion of a boar's head from the crest of Swindon and Pendlebury. It was from this borough that the motto, Salus populi suprema ('the welfare of the people is the highest law') was taken.
Worsley provides the motif of one of the medallions worn by the lions.
Places in Salford
Being so close to Manchester City Centre, having been pieced together from five separate boroughs, Salford does not have an area that you could call the city centre. The city is diverse: some of its suburbs are amongst the poorest in the country whereas places like Salford quays are held up as shining examples of regeneration.
Blackfriars and Trinity
These are the areas nearest Manchester City Centre, and the contrast between Salford and its sister city are rather stark. As you cross the Irwell from Manchester you may see that many of the shops on the A6 Chapel Street are closed. Head underneath the railway and you'll find nothing at all.
Most of the crescent between the railway and the Trinity Way dual carriageway is wasteground. Rival small businesses run them as car parks. The arches and undercroft of the railway are used for garages and car parks. Parking in this part of Salford and walking five minutes into Manchester City Centre is far cheaper than parking in the city itself. Some streets have free parking after midday on Saturdays and all Sundays, which is a great bonus for weekend shoppers.
People parking here should be warned that they should not expect their car to be there when they get back. Car thefts are common. Due to the area's proximity to the MEN Arena, rival gangs make a lot of money charging for parking on gig nights. They do not take kindly to people ignoring their frantic beckoning and invites to park and are often reported to have smashed the windows of cars trying to get away with parking for free on the street! Women should note that walking back under the railway viaduct towards this section of wasteground is not recommended at night.
Some sections of Trinity are thriving, however. Smart new office complexes have been built facing the river and are served by the millennium bridge. Greater Manchester's first five-star hotel, The Lowry, also sits overlooking the river.
The northern part of Trinity, the area between Trinity way and where the Irwell curves back on itself, is mostly council housing.
The area is home to Salford Central Station (see below).
Ordsall and Regent Road
Regent Road is one of the main exits from Manchester. It starts on the Manchester Inner Ring Road and runs west to the M602 motorway. To the north there is a supermarket, a retail park and the Salford equivalent of a strip mall. To the south there is the estate of Ordsall.
It is here where Salford's most famous street gets mentioned. Coronation Street's Weatherfield is a fictional Salford suburb. The set is just across the Irwell in Manchester's Granada Studios, but there is a real Coronation Street. It runs parallel to Regent Road for part of its distance. Its best claim to fame is that it is home to Salford Lads Club, outside which professional sulkers, The Smiths, posed for a famous photo of the band.
Back in the dim and distant past, the docks in Salford were one of the busiest ports in the world. Ships from around the world passed down the Manchester Ship Canal from Liverpool. Between 1952 and 1974 there were over 5000 ships using the port each year, transporting 16 million tons of goods. The city thrived, the docks started loosing business as the industry died and the ships went elsewhere. The docks closed in 1982.
At the start of the 1990s, this was a vast landscape of urban deprivation, but by the end of the decade, it was full of life again.
The regeneration of Salford Quays has been a major success. The Lowry gallery and theatre was opened along with an accompanying outlet mall and multiplex cinema. The Metrolink was extended into the area as part of a line into Eccles. Many new huge office buildings were opened and lots of houses and flats for urban professionals were built. Bars and restaurants moved in and the docks were thriving again.
Anybody visiting Salford has a duty to see the quays. It was the setting for the Triathlon at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and has held a regular race on the world cup triathlon calendar.
At the heart of Salford Quays is the new MediaCITYUK development, the country's first designated digital and creative community. CBBC and BBC Sport are due to move there in 2011.
Pendleton and the Crescent
With a bus station and a shopping precinct, Pendleton is perhaps the place with the best claim to be Salford's centre. It isn't really that much of a claim; most market towns have a larger town centre. The area, sometimes called Salford Precinct, is dominated by high-rise blocks of flats.
Having looped around Blackfriars and Trinity, the River Irwell heads south, back towards Manchester city centre again, then turns back on itself yet again. The A6 passes next to the river at this point, this part of Salford is called Salford Crescent. Salford Crescent railway station is found here.
The Crescent is also home to The University of Salford. This is one of Manchester's three major universities. It is much smaller than the other two and sits in its own campus.
Swinton's Civic Center is home to Salford City Council. It is home to many other things too, as Swinton will tell you.
Worsley and Walkden
These suburbs are to the far west of Salford, outside the M60 motorway. There used to be a lot of coalmines in this area and 47 miles of underground canals run beneath these towns. The purpose of these canals was originally to bring coal out, then later on for draining the lower levels of the mines.
Opened in 1763, the Bridgewater Canal was one of the first English canals built that didn't follow the route of a natural waterway. It ran from the Duke of Bridgewater's coalmines in Worsley down through Paticroft and Barton upon Irwell before running to Manchester via Trafford Park. At Barton-upon-Irwell, the canal was carried across the Irwell and Mersey Navigation by an aqueduct. When the Irwell and Mersey Navigation was rebuilt as the Manchester Ship Canal in the 1880s, the aqueduct was replaced by a swing bridge that remains one of the wonders of inland waterways. The Bridgewater canal was extended from Stretford to Runcorn in 1772 to provide a direct link from Salford to the mouth of the Mersey without having to use the Irwell and Mersey Navigation.
You can't mention Salford without mentioning Eccles. The town is home to Salford's main hospital and a relatively large shopping area. Eccles is best known for its Eccles Cakes, which are now actually made in Ardwick, Manchester. The M602 cuts through Eccles and meets the M60 and M62 at the Eccles Interchange. Eccles is on the train line to Liverpool and is the terminus for one branch of the Metrolink.
Things to See
Salford is possibly the only English City without a professional football league team. People wanting to watch the beautiful game can travel to any one of its Great Manchester neighbours. Bolton, Bury, Wigan and Manchester all have football league teams. If these are sold out then you may be able to squeeze into Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, which is just across the ship canal in Trafford.
Salford City Reds are the Rugby League team who are based on Willows Road near Weaste, between Eccles and Pendelton.
The Lowry Centre is the centrepiece of Salford's regeneration. Its main purpose is as a gallery of the work of one of Salford’s greatest son's, LS Lowry. The centre, designed by Michael Wilford, is also home to two theatres and a studio workspace. It opened in the year 2000 and, with its pointed roof and circular tower, is one of the most recognisable buildings in Greater Manchester.
A liftable footbridge spans the ship canal and connects the Lowry with the Imperial War Museum North on Trafford Wharf.
If you want to go shopping, its best to go elsewhere. Manchester City Centre and the The Trafford Centre have most of the major shops. However, there are a few decent places to spend your money.
Regent Road offers a good selection of large shops. There is a supermarket and a retail park just off the Manchester end. The factory outlet mall at the Lowry offers you a chance of finding a bargain then heading off to the cinema.
St John's Cathedral on Chapel Street is the Roman Catholic Cathedral and seat of the Salford Diocese. The Diocese reaches as far south as Didsbury, and almost as far north as Cumbria.
People wanting a big night out should head across the river to Manchester. There are a few bars opening up in Salford Quays, but generally the local pub is the pinnacle of Salford nightlife. Salford has attracted bad press with reports of shootings in some of its pubs. The Yates Wine Lodge in Swinton was at a centre of a major court case when door staff took exception to a woman complaining that she had her purse stolen, and so beat her husband to death.
The Lowry hosts touring theatre productions, stand up comedy and major musical artists. For smaller bands, The Pint Pot pub off the Crescent regularly hosts gigs from bands at the university.
There are four motorways in Salford. The M602 runs from the Eccles Interchange to the end of Regent Road. It is only a short spur road, but is a major artery into Manchester. The road runs in a concrete-lined cutting through Salford. There are many bridges over it which enable local youths to throw stones at cars.
The M62 runs from Liverpool to the M60 at Eccles. If you carry on towards Manchester, the road becomes the M602. The M62 itself reappears at the on the other side of Manchester. The M60 orbital road runs around the city and a short stretch of the M61 can also be found in Salford.
The main A-roads are the A6, the A56 Bury New Road, the A57 Eccles New Road/Liverpool Road and the A580 East Lancs Road. The A6 and the East Lancs Road join together near Irlam O' th' Heights and go diving up and down through a concrete cutting.
Salford is well served by buses. Pendelton has a major bus station, and Salford's Exchange bus station is just north of Manchester City Centre.
The Eccles branch of the Metrolink meanders through Salford Quays and along Eccles New Road to Eccles. Harbour City is the best stop for the Lowry. Be warned that on match days a lot of Manchester United supporters walk to and from St James and Pomona stations which are nearer to Old Trafford than Old Trafford Metrolink on the Altrincham branch.
Salford's two main train stations are Salford Central and Salford Crescent. Central is in effect Manchester North, and is just across the river from Manchester City Centre on The A6 Chapel Street. It is served by all the westbound lines out of Manchester Victoria except for the Manchester to Liverpool line via Eccles. The Eccles trains pass though a disused part of the station. Manchester Exchange station used to be in Salford, spanning the river Irwell just outside of Manchester Victoria.
Salford Crescent is also on the A6. It is served by both trains from Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria. It is on the line to Wigan and Bolton. Salford's suburbs are also served by stations on the lines to Wigan, Bolton, and both routes to Liverpool.
Many famous people have come from the city and its environs, these are just some.
- LS Lowry - Artist famous for his scenes of urban life with matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs.
- John Cooper Clarke - Punk poet and Bard of Salford.
- Russell Watson - A famous tenor.
- Bez - Ultimate rock hanger-on and walking pharmacist.
- Tim Burgess - Singer of the Charlatans
- Alistair Cooke - Legendary broadcaster.
- Peter Hook - Bassist for Joy Division and New Order.
- Albert Finney - A great British actor.
- Bernard Sumner - Guitarist for Joy Division and New Order.
- James Prescott Joule - Famous Physicist.
- Mark E. Smith - Frontman of the John Peel favourites, The Fall.
- Paul Scholes - Manchester United and England midfielder.
- Robert Powell - Actor and former messiah.
- Christopher Eccleston - English actor and Time Lord.