North of the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal and west from Manchester is the small town of Eccles. I say ‘small town’ deliberately because this might be part of Salford and Greater Manchester but it feels like a small English town. Get off the tram at the end of the line in Eccles and you have travelled a world away from Salford Quays and Manchester city centre. In Eccles you can still find an independent cafe rubbing shoulders with a cut-price hardware store, buckets and bowls spilling over the pavement and there are a gaggle of charity shops for bargain browsers.
It is Eccles Library that is the star of the town. One of the 2,509 libraries funded by the Scottish businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie [606 of these were in the UK] and opened in 1907, the library was built in a Renaissance style. The library went through a major refurbishment in 2006 and is now a shared space with local health services as one of Salford’s innovative gateway centres. It is worth going inside the library to see the beautiful features inside the building.
Eccles has a regular farmers and makers market selling local produce and is known across England for the Eccles cake, apparently first sold in 1793 and a mixture of flaky pastry with currants, candied peel, sugar and nutmeg.