An Illustrated History
Salford, better known for the sweet currant cakes
produced by Eccles, one of its townships, is often
seen as the lesser part of Manchester, yet it was
by far the larger city in the past and has just as
long and colourful a history as its neighbour. It
was to Salford that Sir John Radclyffe bought his
Flemish migrants in the 13th century. Their weaving
skills laid the foundations for Manchester’s
19th-century ‘Cottonopolis’. Sir John’s
home, Ordsall Hall, still survives, a black and white
timbered building of rich history and whispered legends.
It was here, in the Star Chamber, that Guy Fawkes
is said to have plotted to blow up the House of Commons.
The city grew more slowly and less willingly than
Manchester during the cotton manufacturing era. As
the tentacles of the millscapes reached out across
its green and pleasant countryside, Salford became
a byword for grimness, polluted waterways and some
of the worst slums in the area. The glitter and bustle
of the commercial heart of Manchester passed Salford
by until the building of the Manchester Ship Canal
and the development of Salford Docks from 1890–1894
revolutionised the City of Salford.
World-renowned artist L.S. Lowry immortalised his
home town with his paintings of Salford scenes peopled
with his trademark ‘matchstick men’. The
mills and the docks have gone; but today the Lowry
Centre stands along side the Ship Canal, an innovative
modern complex which fosters history and the arts.
The canal has been cleaned and stocked with fish,
and cruises run from Salford to Liverpool. Salford
is firmly back on the map, and the old dock warehouses
have become sought-after apartments and offices.
This new history of Salford chronicles events from
its evolution some time at the end of the New Stone
Age, through Romano/Celtic times and mediaeval expansion,
down to the ‘heyday’ of the Industrial
Revolution, the slow decline of the 20th century and
the city’s ‘rebirth’ in the 1990s
and early 21st century. History is essentially about
people and, while all the facts are here, the inhabitants
of Salford peep through the curtains of time as well
in the events, stories, images and legends that help
to bring Salford and its past to life.