Saturday, 9 April 2016

Unlocking Salford Quays

It's getting so close now to the end of my Easter break :( We're off to Liverpool today but, before we leave, I wanted to share another of our day trips.

If you've been reading my blog a while, you might remember that Chickpea and I have been following the Irwell Sculpture Trail (you can see all the other instalments here). Our destination was Salford Quays where there were a cluster of six sculptures to be seen. I chose this cluster because the weather was predicted to be mixed and there would be several places to shelter. Lovely blue skies greeted us though as we walked across the bridge next to the Lowry art gallery and theatre to find the first sculpture.

This is looking back at the Lowry, named after the famous painter.

Although included in the Sculpture Trail, five of the artworks, including this one, are actually part of Unlocking Salford Quays, a project in 2010 to represent the rich heritage of Salford Docks. For anyone not familiar with this area, Salford isn't by the sea, it's inland at the end of the Manchester Ship Canal. Nothing remains of the industrial past of the docks, it's now all swish apartments and new media.

Casuals by Broadbent was right next to the bridge and represents the dock workers' union cards.  Dockers needed a union card to qualify for work and, twice a day they would gather by the gates to compete for jobs. The cards are arranged in two groups to represent those who were lucky and those less fortunate.

Some of the dockers who were interviewed for the project are featured on each card.

Further along the quayside we noticed some other sculptures, again representing the docks. In fact, there were artworks all around the area. I've since learned that this one is called Silent Cargoes and was part of another regeneration project.

We were particularly impressed with this unusual slide and might have sneaked a go if it was in a less public place ;-)

We walked along the quayside, past the Imperial War Museum North...

and onto another bridge, connecting parts of Media City.

MediaCityUK is home to the BBC and ITV plus a range of other media and high tech companies.

As you can see from the Blue Peter logo, the children's department of the BBC is based here.

Say hello to Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden!

And to Pudsey from Children in Need!

 Around the front of the main buildings was the next sculpture was Nine Dock by Mor.

Nine Dock was once the largest and most important dock in Salford.

The sculpture is engraved with memories from local people.

Just across the dock outside the back of the Lowry theatre is Where the Wild Things Are. The blades of grass suggest the exotic places the ships sailed to and from.

The steel bases are engraved with words and drawings from local primary school children. We tried reading the words which spiralled round and round but it makes you incredibly dizzy!

After a refreshment stop, a 10 minute walk away was Factory Girls by David Appleyard. You can see the first bridge we walked over on the left.

For the footie fans amongst you, the girls are now looking towards Manchester United's ground, Old Trafford. I've been in there once but definitely not to see a football match. It was to see Bon Jovi :) Though I have to say that football stadiums are generally rubbish for concerts as the acoustics are all wrong - the sound bounces off the metal walls.

The girls represent those who worked at Metropolitan Vickers, once one of the largest electrical engineering firms in Europe. Each figure is named after former employees: Doreen, Edie and Margaret.

Circling back towards the Quays, we came across the penultimate sculpture, Four Corners by Noah Rose.

It's engraved with panels showing stories, scenes and the people who worked there.

And so onto the last sculpture in Erie's Basin, Erie's Rest.

Created by Ingrid Hu, the sculpture echoes the ebb and flow of the canal. It was inspired by stories of workers who had walked on the canal floor during its construction and on the surface when it had frozen during the winter.

We were intrigued by the holes, particularly as the information board nearby mentioned ceramic inserts. It turns out that the wood was embedded with several tiles by Beverley Gee containing drawings of the dock workers. It's so annoying and so sad that they are all missing, presumed stolen. Photos of some of them and Beverley's design process can be seen on her blog.

Heading back to our starting point, there were a row of metal discs with different sayings.

Another unexpected bonus.

As were all the mosaic tiles embedded in the walkways: I showed another in the last scavenger hunt.

We really enjoyed our day out at Salford Quays and saw so much more than we'd expected. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes, a shopping outlet, plus the museum, art gallery, theatre and a cinema if you wanted to make a day of it. Highly recommended.

Well. I'm off to get ready for our day out. Have a great weekend everyone. x


  1. I spent some time at Salford Quays last year on a training course. There are some amazing sculptures around the area and I've enjoyed revisiting them through your post. I specially liked the Casuals sculpture. It really brought home how difficult life was then. No guaranteed work. If your face didn't fit you didn't stand a chance.

  2. Pudsey reminds me of Pooh. Loved the factory girls and will have to show T ! K is coming from Boston and plan is to meet at antiques place.

  3. Pretty amazing. I would love to have been with you. I would have DARED you to go down that slide, double dog dared you! (We American kids might not do something on a dare but if it was a DOUBLE DOG dare, we just might!)

  4. Thanks for the tour. There's obviously a lot to see!

  5. Oh wow, how interesting!!! I love all the sculptures and those sayings to the end- it's true- they were just made to go back to life before which was irrevocably different!!x

  6. That looks absolutely brilliant. Thank you for sharing it with us, I really enjoyed it. I think I'd also enjoy a walk along that trail, it looks like my cup of tea.

  7. It does look a interesting place to visit and your photos are wonderful.
    Amanda xx

  8. Looks like an amazing and interesting place. I shall add it to my bucket list :)