Sacred Trinity Church: #surprisingsalford #39

sacred trinity church small
Sacred Trinity Church in Salford

The corner of Salford where you find Sacred Trinity Church has been a special place for many years.  Hard up against the railway line and towards the end of Chapel Street, this lovely and well-proportioned church was originally built in 1635 and was the first church in Salford.  The tower was added later but it is said the vibration of the bells affected the church’s integrity and most of the building, with the exception of the tower,  was taken down in 1751 and rebuilt the following year.  The tower was largely rebuilt in the middle of the 19th century and a clock added on each face.  The church is built in a Gothic-classical style.

The money to build the church came from Sir Humphrey Booth [1580 – 1635] a local wealthy Salfordian and benefactor.  Humphrey Booth was a church warden at what is now Manchester Cathedral but he was keen for the people of Salford to have their own place of worship.  Although the town by then had a borough charter and market charter and was a growing town, there was no place of worship.  Humphrey Booth laid the foundation stone in 1634 and the church was completed a year later, after Humphrey Booth’s death.  At this time the church was on the edge of Salford and it stayed that way until the industrial revolution led to the huge expansion of the city.  Humphrey Booth’s grandson left land in his will to ensure the upkeep of the church and asked if there was any surplus that it should be distributed among the poor of Salford.  This ensured Sacred Trinity was maintained and rebuilt but it also led to the creation of Booths Charities which continues to fund many good causes in Salford.

The Flat Iron conservation area centres around this listed building and the plot that the church sits on is triangular in shape, resembling an old flat iron.  In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the area around here was fashionable residential streets but through the 19th century commerce and industry moved in.  Today the area is once again seeing an increase of residential properties with the building of blocks of flats.  The Flat Iron Market was held in front of the church until the 1930s and LS Lowry painted this scene in 1925.



Worth One’s Saltaire: A day out in Yorkshire & a trip down memory lane

The alpaca statue looks across the park to Saltaire

Walk through the grid of terraced streets in the Yorkshire village of Saltaire and you will pause frequently to admire a decorative window, catch the rhythm of the rows of houses, appreciate a well-tended front garden or just chat to a friendly cat.  Certainly, every now and then you will stop when a glimpse of the impressive Italianate Salt’s Mill appears between the houses, takes you by surprise and makes you gasp.

Saltaire is a fascinating purpose built village and textile mill.  Built on the outskirts of Bradford in the middle of the 19th century and set on the river Aire, the name Saltaire comes from the river and the mill owner, Titus Salt.  The huge mill is a masterpiece and the neat rows of terraced houses were a cut above other worker’s housing, having fresh water and sanitation.  The self-contained village was furnished with a hospital, alms houses, an institute, church and shops.

I first visited Saltaire in the 1990s, not long after the abandoned mill had been bought and renovated by a local entrepreneur, Jonathan Silver.  Jonathan Silver was successful in saving and reinventing this beautiful building, creating a retail, cultural and commercial complex that continues to be run by his family and to thrive.  Today Saltaire is a World Heritage Site and is a popular destination for visitors as well as somewhere people live and work.

In 1995, as a geography student, I was fascinated by Saltaire and keen to use this urban landscape in an assignment but struggled to get a handle on a narrative focus for the essay.  On a February day I took the train to Bradford and decided to walk the six kilometres or so to Saltaire, thinking this would give me a chance to visit Titus Salt’s statue in Lister Park and maybe find inspiration.  As I was photographing the Victorian statue on the edge of the park it began to snow, huge flakes that were soon covering the roads and pavements.  My feet were soaked and I was cold to my bones by the time I reached Shipley but my best ideas come when I am walking.  Chancing upon the view looking down on the mill and the village I had an epiphany.  Even though I had visited before at that moment the scale and the grace of Salt’s Mill blew me away.  Seeing the mill facing the rows of terraced streets and the moorland beyond, its position in the landscape fell into place and I knew what I was going to write.  If you want to read my undergraduate ideas about the two contrasting authors of the landscape of Saltaire, I have shared my essay here  but please remember I was a young 35-year old and this was written early in my writing journey.

Last week we decided to recreate what had become for me a legendary trip in better weather.  After catching the Leeds train from Victoria railway station in Manchester we were soon walking between the grandiose Victorian buildings of Bradford in the sunshine.  Lister Park was full of people enjoying the unseasonable weather.  When we reached the viewpoint where I had experienced my inspiration I stopped and thought about the younger me and how important that moment had been.  Despite quite a build up the view over Saltaire was even more amazing than I remembered.

Much has changed in Saltaire since the 1990s but what hasn’t altered is the quality of the sticky toffee pudding in Salt’s Diner, an interesting and charming cafe inside the mill.  On that cold snowy day I warmed up in the Diner with a bowl of this wonderful sweet pudding in a pool of toffee sauce and for old time’s sake I did the same again last week.  Today diners can admire David Hockney prints while they eat from crockery that depicts a David Hockney sketch.  Just eating at Salt’s Mill is an experience!  After tea and cake we browsed the books in the bookshop, had a look in the gallery and merely admired the expensive home ware.

Keen to get out and enjoy the sun, we explored the rows of terraced streets, walked by the canal and through the tidy Robert’s Park colourful with crocuses.  I stopped to take a photograph of the noble alpaca statue looking back to the mill and the village.  Titus Salt has alpaca wool to thank for his enormous wealth; he used it to weave fine cloth for luxury clothing.  By deciding to create an industrial community in Saltaire, rather than spending his wealth on an estate with a mansion, Titus Salt ensured he is remembered as a Victorian philanthropist.  Although he was foremost a successful and wealthy businessman who may have seen the mill and village as a way of maintaining paternalistic control, he certainly also had a sense of duty that led him to build an infrastructure that would help workers and their families to thrive.

Victoria station
Lovely tiling at Victoria Station in Manchester



What do you keep in your campervan store cupboard?

2013 sept worksop devon owners group meet (17)
Cooking up a feast

We use our blue campervan all year around and so there is always food in the cupboard and dried ingredients in the storage containers.  If we had to [in that end of the world scenario] we could probably survive for a few weeks on just what is in the ‘van!  Fortunately, we use the ‘van enough that these tins and jars are rotated regularly enough.  What this means is that when we decide to head off on a trip all we need to pop in the Blue Bus’ kitchen cupboards is the fresh food from the fridge and bread bin.  Having these staple items to hand help us to build quick and delicious meals while we are on the road with the addition of a few fresh ingredients.  We can also use them to make a hearty meal if we haven’t had time to shop and want something quick after a long day.

What do you always have in your campervan food cupboard?

Our store cupboard staples:

  • Tins of chickpeas [great for hummus or stews and curries]
  • Small cartons of tomato passata or small tins of tomatoes for stews and sauces
  • Tins of those delicious large Greek beans in tomato sauce
  • Tins of artichoke hearts, sweetcorn, green beans and Spanish peppers [useful if we can’t get fresh vegetables or don’t have time to shop]
  • Jars of pesto [great for a quick meal when the day doesn’t go according to plan]
  • Delicious puy lentils in tins or packets and dried red lentils [they cook so quickly]
  • Jars of black and green olives to nibble or lift a dish of scratch ingredients
  • Peanut butter for sandwiches or stews
  • Marmite [wouldn’t go anywhere without it]
  • Jam and honey
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Herbs, spices and bouillon
  • Pasta, basmati rice, risotto rice and couscous
  • Biscuits, crackers and nuts
  • Bread mix for pitta bread or rolls [cheating I know but easier in the campervan]
  • Soya milk
  • A packet of ground coffee, tea bags, instant coffee & Barleycup
  • A few bottles of red wine and beer









How to make the most of a few winter days on the peaceful part of the Lancashire coast

Boats on the marina at Glasson Dock
Boats at Glasson Dock

All we could hear was the honking of geese from the nearby fields, the occasional cry of a curlew and the breath of the wind at Near Moss Farm Touring Caravan Park.  We had hoped for a couple of days of peace and quiet and this site certainly delivered.

Near Moss Farm is on The Fylde, the west Lancashire coastal plain between the Ribble and Lune estuaries.  The Fylde is best known for the seaside resorts of Blackpool, Lytham and Fleetwood but the northern coast is more farming than funfairs and is a different world to the bright lights of the towns.

Near Moss Farm is a Certified Location for Caravan Club members and a touring park; parts of the site are exclusively for adults.  The pitches are all hard-standing and this tidy and well-kept site has a heated sanitary block.  You will get a warm welcome from the friendly owners who also manage a fishing lake and three self-catering cottages.

The Fylde is pancake-flat with big skies and long views; this makes it perfect for cycling, so long as the prevailing westerly wind is behind you.  A relaxing round trip of about 16 miles takes you from Near Moss Farm along sleepy lanes to the charming village of Knott End-on-Sea and back.  In summer a small ferry crosses the Wyre estuary from Knott End-on-Sea to the delights of Fleetwood.

We were here in winter and so it was not ideal cycling weather.  Instead we walked along the nearby coastal dykes looking over the salt marshes criss-crossed with channels,.  The Irish Sea was to one side and farmland on the other and we spotted egrets, handsome shelducks, as well as swans and geese.

We also drove the short distance to Glasson Dock on the Lune estuary, still a working harbour and marina that was built as a port for Lancaster.  Both the marina and Conder Green car parks have height barriers but there is plenty of road parking in and around the village, including on Tithe Barn Hill with views over the estuary.   Once you have explored the lock and swing bridge, admired the boats in the marina and found the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse you might want to stretch your legs.  We followed National Cycle Route Six, a popular and flat off-road route to Lancaster, and enjoyed more bird spotting along the river Lune.

Driving to Morecambe before we headed home we took a breezy walk along the sea front that put colour in my cheeks.  Coffee in the magnificent grade two listed Art Deco Midland Hotel made this a pretty much a perfect walk.  Built in 1933 I first visited the Midland Hotel in the 1990s; in those days this gorgeous hotel was memorable for its faded glamour.  Today it is fully restored and once again a stunning bit of luxury.

Our Epic Fail: Shared with MMM readers

Humiliating myself before the motorhoming community

Generally when we are camping with friends we are considered the organised ones.  It is our ‘van everyone comes to for a spare mug, local maps, paracetamol for a headache or blister plasters after a walk.  However, this last month this (unwarranted) reputation has taken a massive knock.

We were camping for three nights near the Leicestershire market town of Melton Mowbray with the Devon Conversions Owners Club and had packed the ‘van with warm clothes and food before leaving Salford.  It was splendid to meet old and new friends and our first night was convivial.

All was well with the world until we came to make the beds that evening.  I opened the cupboard to extract the duvets and seeing an empty space experienced that bottom-of-the-stomach sick feeling.  In winter, between camping trips our duvets and sleeping bags are stored in the flat to stop them getting damp and they were still there!  All we had with us were sheets and pillow cases.

We felt foolish and embarrassed as we searched the ‘van for suitable alternatives for the night.  Covered with sheets, our emergency blankets and coats and with the heating on we were fortunately warm enough but missed snuggling under a thick duvet.

We could have kept our discomfort to ourselves but weren’t looking forward to two more nights under makeshift bedding so the next morning I sought help from the reception staff at Eye Kettleby Lakes, where we were staying.

Campsite staff must have a long list of ludicrous questions they have been asked over the years but I like to think my request will become notorious for camping ineptitude.  To be fair to the excellent staff, when I hung my head in shame, explained the situation and asked if they had a duvet we could borrow for a couple of nights they were professional and didn’t even titter at my school boy error.

They provided duvets with freshly laundered covers and refused any payment for their trouble; we were so grateful (and lucky) to be on a campsite with first-rate customer service.  We bought the staff a thank you box of chocolates and will attempt to move on and rebuild our reputations.

Published in MMM March 2019 edition.


My post-campervan holiday list


Is it just us or does every campervan owner return from a long trip away in their ‘van with a long list of things that need replacing, fixing, taking out of the ‘van or buying.  For me, this to-do list comes into being a few weeks in to the trip.  I will have a bright idea or break something, find a sheet of scrap paper, usually the back of a campsite receipt or map, and a pen [these are on the list too, we always have a stack of them in the ‘van] and scribble down whatever it is I don’t want to forget.  The list will get shoved under my pile of t-shirts and as the weeks go by other things will come up and I will grab a pen and add it to the list.

Some of the things on the list are mundane replacements, things we must remember to buy when we are back in the UK.  Another packet of Kwells seasickness tablets is a good example of this sort of thing; this could easily get forgotten in the excitement of being home and only be noticed when I next start to feel queasy on a pitching and rolling ship.

Others things on the list are expensive purchases that are more challenging for two frugal folk to deal with.  These things will sit on the list for a while [at least one month] for due consideration before the money is spent.  New cycling shorts are this sort of thing.  We tend to do more and longer cycle rides in the warmth of southern Europe and this can highlight the shortcomings of the gear we have.  New cycling shorts clearly seemed important at the time to make it on to the list but at the moment we are minded to think that the old ones will do another year.

Replacement MP3 speakers could be on the ‘due consideration’ list as these also cost money, except that I find dropping off to sleep to a podcast on the MP3 player helps me deal with the constant ringing in my ears that comes with tinnitus.  The speakers that I have found suit me best have done many years regular use but they are no longer reliable and another set is urgently needed.

The reversing sensors on our Blue Bus started mis-firing part way through our holiday.  Annoyingly, they starting beeping as soon as reverse was engaged even if there was nothing behind the ‘van for many metres.  The Renault came with reversing sensors and we thought we would hardly use them, having managed without before.  But there is really no view out of the back window of the Renault and so these have proved to be a useful bit of kit.  At £170 to replace we will take a deep breath before we go ahead.

Some of the things on the list don’t need us to spend any money – hurrah!  We have carried a hairdryer in the campervan since we had it but realised on our last trip that we had never actually used it!  I have no idea why it took three years to realise that we both have short hair that dries quickly, particularly in the sun.  The hairdryer was taking up space we could use more efficiently and has now gone to the charity shop.

It has taken us sometime to get round to this but we have now put our music on a flash drive that plugs in to a USB on the radio of our Renault.  We had expected to be able to use the MP3 player through the van’s radio but this turned out to be impossible, perhaps due to the age of our MP3 player.  Then we had a flash [pun intended] of inspiration and tried a portable drive.  This works well and takes up much less room than the pile of CDs we had before.  Now we can rock to our whole music collection as we drive!

The temporary mirror inserts went on the wish list after the expensive Spanish mirror jousting incident.  We bought one each for the right and left mirrors on Ebay and hope these will be enough to get us home if the same happens again.  If these work, they will enable us to put off buying a replacement wing mirror until we can do this online from home and we can then fit it ourselves much more cheaply.

Living in the north of England with our wonderful soft water we didn’t realise kettle descaler was even a thing until we travelled abroad.  The mineral-rich hard water in most European countries might be good for our bones but certainly clogs up the kettle and the ‘van’s water pump, as we discovered to our cost last year.  In a two month long trip we will descale the kettle one or two times to keep it working efficiently and always keep some in the ‘van.

The list from each holiday is always different and partly tells the story of some of the things that have happened on our trip and the places we have been.  What does your post-holiday to-do list look like?





Barton Swing Bridge: #surprisingsalford #38

barton swing bridge small

Walk west beyond Eccles, heading along the Manchester Ship Canal towards Irlam and at Barton you come across the Barton Swing Bridge that carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Ship Canal.  The Bridgewater Canal came from the Worsley coal mines and in to Manchester.  The original aqueduct built in 1761 was an ambitious construction carrying the canal 38 feet above the Ship Canal.

To enable larger and taller vessels to use the Manchester Ship Canal this aqueduct was demolished and replaced by a swing aqueduct that was completed in 1893.  The channel of water can be sealed at each end forming what is in effect a tank that is 235 feet long and 18 feet wide and swung on a central pivot that allows ships to pass either side of it.  This is an engineering wonder and apparently the only swing aqueduct in the world.  The Swing Bridge is adjacent to the Barton Road Swing Bridge and the two bridges share the same control tower.

Barton Swing Bridge was designed by the engineer Edward Leader Williams who was also involved in the building the Manchester Ship Canal and the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire.  Rarely used today, the Barton Swing Bridge continues to be in working order and has protection as a listed building.  This bridge is just another surprising feature you find when you walk around Salford.