A busy city that stands sometimes in the shadow of even busier
Manchester, Salford nevertheless has a character and a history
of its own, both of which show evidence of a great pioneering spirit.
Salford's growth was especially marked by the industrialization of
the 19th century. By the end of that century, the effect of the
industrial revolution on Salford was phenomenal. Factories replaced
the home as a place of work and Salford began to thrive. It became
one of the great cotton towns and was the site of several vast mills.
Brewing, too, played a significant part in the local economy. The
population, which was 12,000 in 1812, had increased to 220,000 by 1900.
This rapid rise was hardly exceeded anywhere else in England.
Eighteen ninety-four brought a particularly ambitious undertakingthe
Manchester Ship Canalone of the Victorians' greatest engineering
projects. It meant that ocean-going vessels could travel 35 miles
inland from Merseyside, in effect, bringing the sea to Salford. From
their opening, the docks were among the busiest in Britain. The opening
of the Manchester Ship Canal and the newly constructed docks together
formed another major component of the local economy and remained until
recently an important occupation for Salford citizens.
But in the 1970s the patterns of commerce changed as containers took
over and the docks declined. So the city of Salford turned its face to
the future. Salford had already been the first municipal authority to
have a museum and a library 150 years ago, and now they have built the
stylish, not to mention massive, Lowry Arts Center on the apex of one
of Salford's old wharves.
Inside the Arts Center, with its array of theaters and galleries,
lies the jewel in Salford's crownthe works of the city's most famous
citizen, artist Lawrence Stephen Lowry. Lowry was born in 1887 and
began developing his evocative and controversial style between the two
world wars. The art establishment was slow to appreciate him, forcing
Lowry to work as a rent collector, in his spare time creating images
of a provincial urban life that has now disappeared. But the public
grew to love his unmistakable pictures. His exhibits at the Arts Center
reaffirm Lowry as one of the most distinctive artists Britain has ever
Lowry used Peel Park, on the campus of the University of Salford, as a
setting for many of his pictures, and the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW UK did
the same during its visit to the city.
To learn more about Salford, visit: www.salford.gov.uk/about/hsalford.asp.