Visions of old and new in Greengate Salford across the Irwell from Manchester

EYEWITNESS 2015 blog by Aidan O'Rourke 

Whilst massive new construction proceeds, historic buildings lie derelict in Greengate

Whilst massive new construction proceeds, historic buildings lie derelict in Greengate


 
One day in November 2015 I had an appointment on Bury New Road and I took a short cut across the Greengate district of Salford. I was astonished by what I found there. I’ve known the district over many years and remember seeing it from a steam train as a child. In late 2015 there is huge construction work going. Many of the older buildings remain including quite a few derelict ones. Sadly some have disappeared, including the industrial building with the words Greengate and Irewell 1950. An industiral icon of the post war period in Manchester that was demolished around 2004. I took a few photos – the light wasn’t very good – and put together this piece, which appeared in late November in the Manchester Evening News.

Last week, by chance, I took a short cut across Greengate, the district across the Irwell from the Cathedral, home of the restored war memorial featured in last week’s MEN. I remember Greengate as glimpsed from the window of a steam-hauled train carriage leaving Exchange Station: a grimy industrial quarter by the murky River Irwell, an area of small factories, workshops and chimneys pouring out smoke, watched over by a strange-looking brick tower – the tower of Strangeways prison. Today things have changed. Greengate is being transformed. A new mixed used development with state-of-the-art towers is under construction on the site of Exchange Station. Thoughtfuly, they’ve incorporated the bridge and sections of the walls. It’s part of the expanding city centre, now referred to as the regional centre. But as you explore the streets beyond you find a curious mixture of futuristic and faded. Point your camera one way and you are in 1950, shift a little to the right and you’re in 2050. Glitzy apartments stand cheek by jowl with derelict buildings. The most remarkable is Collier Street baths, an abandoned relic of the mid-Victorian era propped up by scaffolding. If this were Vienna, it would be a tourist attraction. When will we be able to say the new Greengate is ‘finished’? Not for a while yet.

The iconic Greengate & Irwell 1950 industrial building in 2003. It has since been demolished.

The iconic Greengate & Irwell 1950 industrial building in 2003. It has since been demolished.


 
Abito Apartments Greengate Salford next to Manchester

The curved walls of Abito apartment building echo the shape of the abandoned building next door.


 


 

Greengate construction on site of Exchange Station

Greengate construction on site of Exchange Station


 
Stone plaque on Collier St Baths, the year MDCCCLV - 1855

Stone plaque on Collier St Baths, the year MDCCCLV – 1855


 
Collier St Baths 12 November 2015

Collier St Baths 12 November 2015

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Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs photography walks in Manchester and Liverpool.