Monday, 29 June 2015

Salford Quays

We'd set aside today to do a spot of sightseeing in Manchester – we were sure there must be more to this city than what you see from the canal. Even the MetroLink journey from Castlefield out to Salford Quays provided a new perspective, because it starts way up in the sky, part of a ribbon of rail and canal routes running out of the centre.


The station was the first surprise. In other places we've seen all sorts of horrible things sprayed around to keep vegetation away from track. Here it was being positively encouraged.


A few hundred yards away, the heart of the MetroLink system is undergoing renovation that will take several weeks, so our starting point is currently the terminus for one half of the network, and there were numbers of employees around to help confused passengers find their way on to the other half.


As we started out, we were able to look down on the basin when Erin Mae is tied up.


and on one or two other watery areas we had passed on the way in.


 Then we crossed the Manchester Ship Canal,


came down an incline and found we were in a tram on the streets rather than a railway in the sky. We'd arrived.


You don't get any sense at all of what they have done with Salford Quays from what you see as you approach Manchester along the Bridgewater Canal. Large expanses of water have been converted for leisure use, and the area all around completed re-developed.


There is residential property, office space, and two buildings opposite each other bear the name of the famous local painter – the Lowry is the Arts / Gallery / Theatre complex with a major exhibition of his works, and the Lowry Outlet is a shopping mall with "outlet" versions of many well-known shops offering considerable discounts.


The gallery was excellent, and we learned lots about both Lowry and Salford that we hadn't known before. Not having a notepad, I took a photo of one of the descriptive panels with a Lowry quote which matched my own reflections recorded in Friday's post: "All my people are lonely. Crowds are the most lonely thing of all. Everyone is a stranger to everyone else." Then I couldn't resist taking a photo of the painting the comment was about, though I wasn't sure it was permitted.


An attendant came over and assured me that it very definitely was not permitted, but kindly didn't insist on watching me delete the images already captured.


Eventually it was time to go and we walked back to the MetroLink by a different route that took us towards the MediaCity complex, including the BBC and ITV (Coronation Street!) studios, and the part of the docklands where swimming events are held.


Some of the Salford Quays area felt over-expanded and rather soul-less. What a project it was – and it presumably needed to match the scale of the docks that were its centre. Urban redevelopment and regeneration are great things for city people and councils to envisage and achieve. But how do you give them a heart?

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