Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Thursday 15 March 2012 – The Salford Trail – Part 1 – Salford Quays to Clifton (nearly)
Last year the ‘Plodders’ section of East Lancs LDWA systematically walked the Salford Trail, breaking it into five stages. I missed the first of those walks, not actually being a member at the time, so Reg kindly agreed to keep me company for today’s re-enactment.
He turned up on time outside the Lowry Centre, with Anne and Nancy, and off we went, to be joined after a few seconds by Roy Bullock, whose brainchild the Salford Trail represents.
A cold grey blanket was sprawled over Salford, brightened in Salford Quays by a variety of stainless steel plaques embedded into the walkways by the canal, with statements like “Lasses took on men’s work for less than skivvy pay and when the war was over they were shunted outta way”.
Detritus littering a corner of the canal basin offered a prelude of what was to come – rather more litter than we expected, but it’s clearly difficult to control, and there’s been much progress from the days 100 years ago when the place would have been strewn with dead dogs and other less savoury items than those we could see today.
Staff at Salford City Council got wind of our feelings about some of the litter before this posting was drafted. It’s to their great credit that they are expressing concern regarding known issues and are looking for solutions even before I’ve said a word about it.
Good luck to them, it must be a tremendously difficult task to control litter in the urban environment, especially in an era when schools aren’t interested in educating the children on such non academic matters.
As Roy Bullock has pointed out after reading this entry:
’I remember some time ago in response to a litter problem a council
spokesperson saying "We employ hundreds of people and machines to
clean up other peoples litter it is not our policy to create litter" I
thought that those few words spoke a lot about the problem and I
really do sympathise with them over it.
Regarding the rubbish in the canal, as I said on the day of the walk,
Salford being at the thick end of the river Irwell gets everybody
else's rubbish. The rivers Croal, Roch, Irk, Medlock and Tib all empty their unwanted flotsam into the Irwell, which finds its way to Salford Quays, so it is an unending problem. Yesterday's lolly stick in Bolton could be in Salford Quays tomorrow.’
After a while we reached the first of many brightly painted bridges, the Trafford Road swing bridge. It no longer swings, but the giant cog wheels by which the bridge used to be turned using hydraulic power remain in situ.
Our walk was now free of roads for some distance as it followed the waterway known as the Erie Basin, with Manchester's Beetham Tower merging into the cloud just a few hundred metres away from us, whilst cormorants, swans and a variety of ducks were active on the waterway.
Some impressive new signs and information boards are being installed. We hope there is also a follow up budget for removing the inevitable graffiti.
We passed the former Colgate Palmolive plant in the heart of Salford Quays. 'Soapworks', is apparently "set to become an iconic building within the North West Office market".
A lot of effort has been and is being put in to develop the area in a tasteful manner, whilst retaining and renovating some original features.
We entered an area of 'uncontrolled graffiti' where not even the scrapyard had escaped! Then a section of ‘supervised’ graffiti saying nice things and mentioning councillors… (have a look at the slide show, and form your own opinion).
Woden Street footbridge is known locally as Mark Addy's Bridge, after the man who saved more than 50 people from drowning in the heavily polluted River Irwell, before his own death as a result of swallowing some of the polluted water whilst carrying out his final rescue.
Shortly beyond the spot where the River Medlock finds its way into the Irwell on the other side of the river, there’s a narrow stone bridge which we approached on tiptoe, as the quiet basin behind it is a haunt of kingfishers. Sadly they they evaded us today. The basin was used by Salford Corporation Cleansing Department, before the days of flush toilets. Collections of 'night-soil' were brought here to be mixed with road sweepings and fine cinders before being transported along the river to farms on Irlam and Barton Mosses.
Soon we were pausing for a while to admire the stalactites. Yes, on a bridge in Salford!
A canal used to run from here to Bolton and Bury. Great efforts are being made to reopen this canal, but a lot of work is still needed. We passed a plaque in memory of Margaret Fletcher (1949-2006) a driving force behind the project.
Across the river/canal, the Beetham Tower glances down on a short lived link with the Bridgewater Canal, constructed as part of a 'toll war'. Special permission is now required to explore that section of canal, which came out in the basin next to where the Bridgewater Hall now stands.
The section of waterway bordering with central Manchester was fairly littered. With bridges as well as rubbish.
A visit to the Mark Addy pub (he's pictured at the entrance with his bravery medals) saw us enjoying coffee, with toast and beef dripping - a speciality of the house. Those of us who had it were left with the taste of beef dripping for much of the day, but we didn’t run out of energy!
Just beyond the Mark Addy, we came upon the resplendently refurbished statue of Joseph Brotherton (1783-1857), the first Salford MP, whose wife was the author of the first vegetarian cookbook. It has recently been rescued from the 'heathens across the river' and now stands proud at the end of New Bailey Street, where our route left the waterway (although a waterway path is under construction, and according to Roy Bullock on 25 March has now been opened).
“Salford must employ an army of bridge painters!” That was a fairly unanimous comment as we passed the beautifully painted bridge parapets by Salford Central railway station.
Spaw Street is run down at present but must once have been a vibrant spot – it’s named after the place nearby where Salford once had a cold water mineral bath, or spa. The bath was fed by a natural spring and people took its water at a time when they believed it to be a cure for all ills.
Sacred Trinity Church, Salford's oldest, dates back to 1635. It stands behind the world's first gas lit street. That was in the early 1800s.
Here they are - Reg, Anne, Nancy and Roy - on the site of the former Gravel Lane Bible Christian Church where the inappropriately named Rev William Cowherd developed the idea of food without meat, leading eventually to the formation of the Vegetarian Society by Joseph Brotherton on the principles set by Cowherd.
Returning to the banks of the Irwell, the bank was littered with piles of old stones from the mills that used to grace its banks. Here, amongst the litter, some of those old stones have been reclaimed and re-laid.
We continued on along the left hand bank as far as Adelphi footbridge, with its view of the Adelphi weir, beyond which there's a large meadow with a pond. We paused here on well built benches for lunch and brownies, before circumnavigating the meadow, which is surrounded by University buildings.
The Willow was blossoming.
Another smartly painted bridge took us into Peel Park, perhaps the world's first inner city park. Named after Robert Peel, it dates from 1846 and was the first of three parks opened on the same day.
Tufted ducks frolicked in the river below the Frederick Road bridge - scene of a proud mayor!
Plaques on each end of each parapet proclaim the importance of Mayor Robinson.
Back on the left hand side of the river, having crossed the footbridge that collapsed in 1831 when crossed by soldiers walking in step – the vibrations caused the suspension to fail, and they were all catapulted into the river, we strolled amiably along a new pathway.
After crossing Gt Cheetham Street by Cromwell Bridge, and fame for another mayor of Salford, R Husband, we continued along a steel fenced path past student accommodation under a verandah of blossom.
Across the meadow land that was once Castle Irwell Racecourse, we came to a humped back footbridge that looks over to a block of flats called the Peninsula Building. It was here that CAMRA was conceived.
Now we embarked upon an interesting two mile loop, first across the site of an old Manchester Golf Course, past mounds that used to be bunkers. Bulrushes have taken hold in places, and deer can apparently be seen in these parts. A return to ‘wild land’. In the middle of Salford!
We moved on up to an area with long views down to the racecourse. This is The Cliff, known locally as the Landslide. The last landslide was in 1927 and it took with it part of the main road that carried the tramlines – that’s the cobbled street pictured below.
You can still see the iron rails laid between the cobbles and the street paving. These were to enable horse drawn vehicles to brake against the rails as they descended the steep slope.
Wandering on, past the Bishop of Manchester’s house, and having touched upon the district of Higher Broughton, we moved on to Kersal, and St Paul's Church.
A tour of the churchyard revealed much of interest. It houses the vaults of the Holt brewing family, and their relatives the Kershaws who now own the brewery. Edwin Waugh (1817-1890), the Lancashire Dialect poet, is also buried here.
Moving on, we strolled over Kersal Moor whilst Roy continued to educate us on all matters Salford – apparently this moor was the site of the first racecourse in Salford in the 1680s, before racing was transferred to the Castle Irwell course. There was a Great Chartist meeting here in 1838, with around 300,000 people in attendance, and before that, in 1804, a duel was fought, between Major Philips and Private Jones. Up there, we were at the dizzying height of 260 feet, on the very summit of the City of Salford.
"Take the rising path on the left next to the nursery school" says Roy in his route description. It will have to be edited. Unless they build another school there. Mind, you could just about make out the playground, and the sign for the school was still in place.
Back at the River Irwell, via a housing estate, we were joined at Jubilee footbridge by a young lad who was visiting a friend after work. "Not me" he says, agreeing with us about the sad state of Salford's litter problem. Just after this we meet two lads carting a load of wire and tubing along on a bike. I think we were all too gob-smacked to react.
A 'stadium' sculpture on the east bank of the Irwell apparently cost a fortune. Opposite, on our side of the river, is the point where in 1944 a Lancaster bomber crashed into the end houses of Regatta Street, killing the airmen and destroying several houses.
A few metres further on, from behind the Hercules Powder Company, appeared this rather unpleasant looking effluent. I promised to report it. I have done.
Next, we passed the 'stand' from where the regatta could be watched. I don't think they have the regatta here any more, but Goosanders were busy flying up and down the 'straight'.
The riverside path passes the huge expanse that is Agecroft Cemetery. We noted a memorial with the black rosette in front of it as being that of Peter Lobengula, the 'Black Prince', who came to Salford with the Savage Africa Show in the late 1800s. He stayed behind and settled in Salford, claiming later that he was the son of King Lobengula of Matabeleland.
We'd planned to go to Clifton, but the scenic delights of this walk had distracted us sufficiently to need to call time at the boundary of Agecroft Cemetery, and walk up Agecroft Road to catch the number 8 bus at the A666 in Pendlebury. But not before studying the pipework of the Thirlmere Aqueduct - two huge pipes and the ornamental ironwork of the Water Works bridge that dates from 1832.
A little further up the road the aqueduct seemed to have sprouted a third pipe! I'll leave that for Reg to explain…
Here’s our route for the day – about 21km with very little ascent.
That leaves me with Agecroft to Clifton to complete the whole walk – that’s about 2 miles, on which I’ll report in due course, together with an index covering all my Salford Trail walks.
Meanwhile, there’s a slideshow of today’s walk here. It’s a long but worthwhile set of images, for those who may be interested.
All my Salford Trail postings can be found here, in reverse order, and most importantly, Roy Bullock’s labour of love, with a host of fascinating additional information, is here.
Enjoy the Salford Trail, everyone.