One of the reasons I am proud of my adopted city of Salford is the way it has pulled itself up by the bootstraps in terms of redevelopment. Despite the ‘Dirty Old Town’ label, post-industrial Salford is now a better place to live and the emergence of Salford Quays from the derelict docks to must-visit destination is a remarkable story.
Salford Quays is just a ten minute walk from home and no matter the weather I always enjoy taking a stroll around the quays. In the sunshine, the reflections in the quays are beautiful and on a wild weather day the wind whipping across the water can be invigorating. In the sunshine there are plenty of visitors sightseeing and on a misty day you can feel you have it all to yourself. Salford Quays is a great place for a walk, even at night, when the colourful lighting on the bridges and the buildings reflects in the water, adding another dimension to the views. Mr BOTRA and I have a number of favourite routes for walking around the quays; we might encircle Eire Basin, or cross the two footbridges to take in the Trafford side of the quays, or stroll around Media City. We always stop to watch the wildlife; the Canada geese and black headed gulls are always in residence and we can usually spot a cormorant or two sitting on a buoy drying their wings, as well as a few swans and coots.
The docks closed for good in 1982 [fuller history here] and the local authority took ownership of the 37 hectares of wasteland a year later and worked with private developers to create something new and exciting. Road building started in 1986 and the heavily polluted water was cleaned and re-stocked with fish in 1988. The redevelopment didn’t happen overnight, from the first meeting of the Lowry Centre Steering Group in 1994 [with many notable founding patrons] it took three years until the building work started on the Lowry and the footbridge. Metrolink trams arrived in 1999, giving the area a much needed link with Manchester city centre and the Lowry was opened in 2000, the shopping mall with cinema a year later and the Imperial War Museum North a further year on. Alongside the public buildings, the quays has housing and offices but for many years the Lowry had an air of being on a neglected building site and it really wasn’t until 2012 with the opening of Media City and the BBC moving in that the area truly felt alive and bustling.
Salford Quays keeps changing and there is always something happening. It might be the festive lights in December, a food market or open water swimming and early in the morning it is lovely to watch the rowing teams from the water sport centre out practicing. Stopping to watch these activities is free, a great bonus for the frugally retired!