The Salford Trail
Salford Quays to Clifton. Total 11.8 miles
1. Seat overlooking the River Irwell bend at Kersal Vale.
2. Boardwalk at Kersal Vale leading up to The Cliff.
3. Evidence of former tram lines at The Cliff following the road collapse.
4. The bridge carrying the Thirlmere water pipe line over the river Irwell
Onto the Trail.
Begin, by walking towards the exit from Salford Quays next to the Copthorne Hotel. Do not go onto Trafford Road, but turn right just before the exit and walk towards the canal side and the former Trafford Road swing bridge. The bridge is now fixed and no longer swings as it once did, to allow ships to pass through. Note the giant cog wheels by which the bridge was turned using Hydrolic power.
Pass under the bridge and behind the Exchange Quay office buildings and the former Colgate Palmolive Soap factory -now called 'The Soap Works' and along the waters edge. This route does not cross any roads and is immediately onto the trail.
There are other routes to get to the waters edge, by crossing the road by the tiled underpass facing the former cinema and next to the commemorative plaque, then turn left, making towards the Exchange Quay Metrolink tram stop. Pass through or by the tram stop and turn right onto Ordsall Lane. From Ordsall Lane there are entrances leading to the water's edge and the trail along the canal and river Irwell. The first of these is at the end of Modwen Road, then down a pathway opposite Nine Acre Drive and another one, further on at the end of Fairbrother Street.
If you follow Ordsall Lane for a short distance, you will pass the newly refurbished and reopened in 2011, historic Ordsall Hall on your left. The name of Ordsall first appeared in print in 1177 when ‘Ordsahala’ paid two marks towards an aid, a feudal due or tax. There was probably a house at Ordsall by 1251 when William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, exchanged the manor for land in Pendleton, which belonged to David de Hulton.
The house has passed through the ownership of many families over the years, amongst these, the Radclyffe family were connected with the hall for over 300 years. It was at the hall that according to the story, Guy Fawkes, by Harrison Ainsworth, that the Gunpowder plot was planned and Guy Fawkes and his cohorts hid away. Note the street name at the side of the hall - Guy Fawkes Street.
Further along on the right, after the hall, there is a gated entrance opposite Nine Acre Drive leading via a walkway to the canal side. This path as with Modwen Rd and Fairbrother Street is only open during daylight hours, so the next way to, or from the water's edge outside the designated hours is further along at Woden Street.
If accessing by the first path turn left at the waters edge. Along the waterside at this point there is a long section of wall with the names of the former mills that stood on the spot, belonging to Richard (Dicky) Haworth The mills were among the largest cotton mills in Europe, employing over three thousand people.
Just after the section of wall the first bridge is reached, the Woden Street footbridge known locally as Mark Addy’s Bridge. In recognition of the deeds of bravery by Mark Addy who lived nearby. He was an accomplished swimmer who saved more than fifty people from drowning in the then filthy, murky waters of the river Irwell eventually succumbing himself, after swallowing some of the waters of the river in his final act of bravery.
Onward towards and under Regent Road bridge, just before the bridge on the left where the casino is, once stood the bottling plant of the Groves and Whitnall brewery. Underneath and on the other side of the bridge, also on the left stood the main brewery once one of the most popular breweries in Salford and the surrounding areas.
By now the wildlife on the river is becoming more apparent, the river is fished regularly here and ducks, geese and swan are in evidence. Shortly, another bridge will be encountered, but this will be a narrow stone bridge going over the river as it enters a small basin at the side.
The basin was once part of the yard of the Salford Corporation Cleansing Department. Opened in the days before flush toilets, night-soil collections were brought to the yard for mixing with the road sweepings and fine cinders, before being loaded into barges in the basin and transported via the river to the farms on Irlam and Barton Moss.
As you approach the basin be as quiet as possible, because here could be the first sighting of a Kingfisher. The basin is a haven for fish that probably use it as a breeding area due to the still waters and the birds are attracted. Herons are also often seen around this spot. After a period of dry weather the basin sometimes clears up enough to make the fish easy to observe, they are in abundance, in what is almost a giant fish tank.
It was near to this spot in 1828, on the then river Irwell, before the river was canalised, that the tragedy of the sinking of the Emma took place. On the opposite bank of the river was the boat building yard of the New Quays Company where the Emma was built. On the day of the launch the deck of the Emma was packed with around 200 invited guests, but by the time of the launch many more of the assembled crowd had gained access.
The eventuality was a disaster, as the Emma was launched, she tipped over and the many people on board were deposited into the dirty waters of the river. In all, thirty eight lives were lost, but there were many stories of the brave deeds of some of those watching in the crowd, who saved many men, women and children from drowning.
There were some bizarre stories connected with the life saving activities of those near to death, such as in some cases after the use of a hot bath, an incision was made into the windpipe and then a pair of bellows applied in order to inflate the lungs. In another case an attempt was made to restore a young man by transfusion of blood direct from the arteries of a dog.
Further along the river is a series of bridges, both rail and road. Look for the stalagmites and stalactites, formed over the years since the bridges were built, from the lime that was used in the mortar in the construction of the bridges. It is just after these bridges that another small stone bridge used to stand, similar to the one at the council yard basin, but now replaced by a wooden one. It was known as Bloody Bridge, because of a murder that took place there many years ago. This is the end of the canal that runs through Salford from Bolton and Bury before entering the river Irwell The canal has been closed for many years, but after much campaigning and final agreement from British Waterways. The first stage of the canal where it enters the river Irwell was opened on Friday 19th September 2008,
walk on and under the next bridge, which is under Irwell Street. This is the last bridge along this section of the river. Just under the bridge where the new buildings are is the spot where Salford once had a spa, or cold water mineral bath. The bath was fed by a natural spring and people used to take its waters, at that time believed to be a cure for all ills. Shortly after it, climb the steps going forward to Stanley Street and back to street level. Notice the pub on the banks of the river The Mark Addy, named after the Salford hero previously mentioned.
This could be an appropriate place to stop for a drink and something to eat, as the pub is renowned for its traditional food, which can be had while sitting overlooking the waters of the river Irwell.
Directly opposite the Mark Addy pub, at the junction of Stanley Street and New Bailey Street, once stood the New Bailey prison. The prison was opened in 1790. The original name being derived from that of Thomas. Butterworth Bayley, chairman of the Quarter Sessions, who laid its foundation stone in 1787. The name was eventually changed to Bailey to make a connection with the London name.
It was near here also that the famous physicist James Prescott Joule was born. His father having a brewery on New Bailey Street. He gave his name to Joule’s Law, which can be seen in everyday use in our gas and electricity bills and food packaging as a measure of energy.
Cross over the road to the opposite side, where a newly constructed walk way leads back to the waterside. To the left of the bridge is the newly renovated statue of Joseph Brotherton, Salford's first M.P. and the founder of the Vegetarian Society.
Walk on alongside the river and under the impressive Trinity Bridge by the architect Santiago Calatrava and by the large white building of the Salford Income Tax Office. The offices are built on the site of the former Thomson-Leng printing and publishing works. It was here that some of the millions of copies of periodicals and weekly newspapers produced by the company were printed every week. They included Thomson’s Weekly News, Red Star Weekly, Woman’s Way, The Wizard and The Rover. Also, next to the bridge is Salford's first five star hotel, The Lowry Hotel.
Eventually rise up towards Blackfriars Street, turn left and walk down to Chapel Street.
Across Chapel Street stands Sacred Trinity Church, Salford’s oldest church, which was consecrated in 1635. The founder of the church was Humphrey Booth who also founded a Charity to relieve the poor, aged and needy or impotent people of Salford. In the part of Chapel Street just in front of the church is the site of the world’s first gas lit street. To the left down Clowes Street. Stood the first gas production plant in Salford. Near to it the mill of Philips and Lee became the first large cotton mill ever to use gas lighting, on New Year’s Day, in 1806. The clock tower of Trinity Church was also lighted by gas in January 1824.
At the side of the church stood the renowned Flat Iron Market, Salford’s main market for many years. The market was so named because the land on which it stood was in the shape of a triangle, the shape of a flat iron as used for ironing clothes.
Cross over to the church and take time out to look at the names on the war memorial cross in the church gardens, the name of Edith Cavell appears on the cross, Edith worshipped at the church in her time working in Salford. It was also in this church that William Webb Ellis was baptised, he reputedly being the boy that picked up the ball and ran with it at Rugby School, thus creating the game of rugby.
Proceed on under the arches to the right along Gravel Lane, one of the earliest roads in Salford. Just after the arches are King Street and Queen Street. In between the two streets is the site -currently a car park - of the former Gravel Lane Bible Christian Church where the unlikely named Reverend William Cowherd developed the idea of food without meat, which eventually led to the formation of the Vegetarian Society by Joseph Brotherton. In 1812, Joseph Brotherton's wife Martha published the first vegetarian cookery book.
William Cowherd died in 1816
his grave lies somewhere in the graveyard here and bears the inscription 'All feared, none loved, few understood'.
Carry on along Gravel Lane to the junction of the road with Greengate. It was here where the early beginnings of Salford were and the ancient cross stood at the centre of the village. Here also was the site of the earliest market, after Henry III granted Salford a weekly market on Wednesdays and an annual fair on the eve day and morrow of the nativity of St Mary, in 1228.
Walk across Greengate to New Bridge Street and behind what is left of the company of Bentley’s Calender Bowl Manufacturers, there is access back to the river Irwell.
The walk is now along the banks of the river for some distance, staying on the left hand side. The river is very straight here, but that has not always been the case. Up to the 1960s. a large bend in the river, known as the Anaconda bend was the cause of much of the flooding problems in this part of the river, so it was cut out and straightened between Trinity Way and Broughton bridge.
Cross over the road at Broughton Bridge on Great Clowes Street. and carry on along the riverside walk on the opposite side on the left hand side of the river.
The path eventually comes to the Adelphi Footbridge. Cross the bridge * *At this point a short diversion, which will extend the total walk by just half a mile can be made. Turn left after the footbridge and make your way to the playing fields in the centre of the loop of the river Irwell. A new shale based footpath has been layed around the outer edge of the field followng the river returning back to the same spot. The detour has some rewards, being quiet and peaceful with plenty of seats, giving the opportunity to have a drink and eat your sandwiches. On the way round one can also get a close up view of the Adelphi weir ** If it is not desired to do the extra distance, bear right along Meadow Road for about 220 yards, where Hough Lane Footbridge crosses the river again into Peel Park. Looking down into the water, it will be seen that the river is flowing in a different direction from the previous bridge. This is because the walk has cut across the giant bend in the river.
Peel Park is the country’s and probably the world’s first inner city park, being the first of three such parks opened on the same day of August 22ND 1846. It is named after Robert Peel a former Prime Minister and the founder of the Police Force. His names gave the terms Bobbies and Peelers as references to policemen. Robert Peel gave £1,000 towards the purchase of land and the establishment of the park.
Turn right in the park and head outwards, now against the flow of the river. Before doing so have a look for the large obelisk in the park, not far from the bridge, which has the flood marks engraved in the stone showing when the height of the water in the park reached 8 feet, and six inches, when the river Irwell overflowed its banks in one of the Irwell’s worst ever floods in 1866.
At the end of the park and playing fields, cross the road and turn right over the large bridge crossing the river at Frederick Road. Immediately after crossing the bridge turn left into a riverside pathway, where about 160 yards along there is another bridge, crossing to the opposite side of the river.
Before crossing have a look at the bridge and reflect on its history, for it was here that an event happened that changed the habits of the military for ever, when crossing bridges.
It was on 12TH April 1831 that the 60TH Rifle Corps, had been carrying out exercises on Kersal Moor and about seventy men were returning back to their barracks by the way of this bridge.
As they crossed the bridge it began to vibrate with their step and as the vibrations increased with more soldiers on the bridge, the suspension chains snapped and the bridge collapsed, throwing the men into the water. Fortunately, the water was not deep at the time and no lives were lost, although there were some minor injuries. The end result of the incident being that from then on the order has been given to break step whenever the military cross a bridge. It was never sure that the cause of the accident was because of the vibrations caused by the marching men or inferior engineering. However, history was created. Two of the original pillars that formed part of the old suspension bridge can still be seen on one side of the river.
After crossing the bridge turn right and follow the river to the next road where the Albion Casino is on the left. The name of the casino is taken from the name of the former Albion Stadium that stood on the land alongside the river where the path has just been walked. The stadium was a dog racing track and later a motor cycle racing and Hot Rod car racing track, before closure in 1976.
Cross the road and pass through the large double iron gates. This may involve passing through the central gap of the gates, which are chained in the middle to avoid full opening. This is perfectly legal as it is a right of way. The measure is just to deter unauthorised vehicular access. You are now inside what was the former Castle Irwell Racecourse. (Note the former turnstiles to the left of the gate.) The name derives from a large house that stood on the site, which was not a castle, but had castellated stonework around it.
The house was the home of the Fitzgerald family who owned much land in the area. Edward Fitzgerald was a writer and a poet and was responsible for the translation of The Rubaiyatt by Omar Kyam from Persian into English. His brother John was the owner of Pendleton Pit and his Chief Engineer was George Stephenson.
The path now takes a complete tour of the extremities of the former Castle Irwell racecourse following the whole of the bend of the river. The path can be followed all the way round or a short cut can be taken by cutting across the fields after the football pitches, in a diagonal line to save about a mile of walking. The aiming point is the same, i.e. the humped back footbridge that crosses the river facing the blocks of flats on the opposite side.
On the opposite side of the river the walk now takes a loop of two miles, returning back to the same spot. There is the opportunity to cut out those two miles if wishing to do so. If not, turn right and walk alongside the river in the opposite direction, but this time not along the very edge. The paths are well marked and there are board walks in some places, as there are some wet areas, which are home to many varieties of plants such as Bulrush and Iris etc. at the end of a long board walk there are wood and soil steps, which rise back up to street level. At the top a magnificent view can be had, looking back over the former racecourse and beyond.
The area at this point is called The Cliff and known locally as the Landslide, because of the many landslips over the years. The last serious landslide was in 1927, when a large section of land subsided taking with it part of the main road that carried the tramlines.
Fortunately the slip was expected and trams and other vehicles had been diverted from the road. The remains of the tramlines and the stone setts of the road can still be seen making an abrupt end.
Turn left and walk out onto Bury New Road turning left again. Follow the road, which is on the line of an old Roman Road, for 270 yards and then turn left down Blackfield Lane bearing right at the end to emerge at Moor lane in front of St Paul’s Church. The churchyard holds the graves of some famous people so a short tour would be interesting. In the graveyard are the family vaults of the Holts brewing family and the related Kershaw family, now owners of the brewery. Edwin Waugh the Lancashire Dialect poet is also buried there, one of his most famous poems being ‘Come whoam to thi childer an’ me’.
Walk to the left hand side of the church and on to Kersal Moor there are many paths to follow. The moor was the site of the first racecourse in Salford in the 1680s with racing eventually being transferred to the Castle Irwell racecourse. The site was also the scene of a Great Chartist meeting in 1838. With an estimated 300,000 people in attendance.
In 1804 a duel was fought on the moor, between Major Philips and Private Jones. The hill in the middle of the moor is the highest place in Salford at roughly 260 feet above sea level. So, if you fancy a short climb…
On the opposite side of the road from Kersal Moor is the home of Salford City Football Club known as the ‘Ammies’ - short for amateurs.
At the end of the Kersal Moor paths the road in front is Oaklands Road. Walk down Oaklands Road for about 200 yards and take the rising path on the left next to the nursery school, the path goes round the back of the school and then descends back towards the river Irwell at the point were the hump back bridge was crossed. Turn right and follow the Irwell Valley Way signs onto Littleton Road. Turn right at Littleton Road and about 180 yards along, on the left is a footpath at the side of the playing fields.
Take the path to the end where it crosses over the river via a large iron footbridge - Jubilee Bridge - and turn right. Follow the river along past the cemetery to Agecroft Road, cross over the road and immediately drop back down onto the path on the left hand side of the river.
Before continuing there are a couple of points of interest along this section. At about 400 yards along the path, after Jubilee Bridge, at the end of Regatta Street - although this is not visible because of the fence and trees - is the position where on Sunday 30 July 1944, a Lancaster Bomber from 106 Squadron crashed, killing all seven members of the crew and demolishing the end houses of Regatta Street.
Further along, where the railings mark the boundary of Agecroft Cemetery, look through as you pass. There is one particular section of gravestones, which are mainly plain stone slabs with just names engraved in the stones. This is the section of pauper’s graves. In one of the divisions between the rows one can clearly make out a stone cross in the centre of the walkway. This is the memorial to Peter Lobengula known as the Black Prince and who came to Salford with the Savage Africa Show in the late 1800s, but stayed behind and settled in Salford after the Show had left. He later claimed that he was the son of King Lobengula of Matabeleland.
Continue now, to the other side of Agecroft Road. Before walking away from the bridge take a look at the ornamental ironwork and large pipes of the Thirlmere Aquaduct, which runs parallel with the stone bridge and carries water from the Lake District.
Passing the Forest Bank Prison on the left, the walk is now alongside the river Irwell for about two miles before reaching the Clifton Country Park. The dry bed of the former canal running through Salford to Bolton and Bury can be seen on your left. with some short stretches of it that contain water.
After about two miles the sound of the M62 Motorway will become evident and just before it you will see the Clifton Viaduct over the river Irwell. The viaduct is known locally as the Thirteen Arches and is one of Salford’s Listed Buildings of historical or architectural interest. Just below it is the Clifton Aqueduct, also listed, which used to carry the canal over the river. At this point it is a straight walk under the motorway bridge into Clifton Country Park. However the path from here on can be quite muddy for the next hundred yards or so.
There is an opportunity to take a short diversion just before the aqueduct and viaduct.
On the left a footpath sign shows a path away from the riverside with factories running on either side. Follow the path to its end and rise onto the road outside the factories, turn right and head towards the Pilkington Tiles factory with the railway on your left hand side. Although closed and no longer making tiles, the factory was once where the world famous Pilkington’s Lancastrian Pottery was made and some of the finest examples can be seen in the collection at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery at Peel Park.
At present this path is now blocked off due to closure of the factory and there is a diversion in place.
Immediately in front of the factory gate turn left under the railway arch then right, to walk alongside the railway. Turn right at the next arch and go back under as if walking back into the factory yard. This is blocked, but at the fence turn left and take the path into Clifton Country Park. This is the immediate option, but there are other paths that can be taken. Alternatively carry on along the riverside instead of taking the diversion.
For those wishing to complete a short section of the walk via public transport, this could be an ideal start or finish to the section. Bus Numbers 71 and 73 run between Clifton Junction and Manchester via Pendleton, Salford Shopping City, Ordsall, Castlefield and Shudehill. The Number 71 is an early morning workers service and the 73 running throughout the day as a shopping service. The bus runs directly to the entrance of Pilkington Tile Company and takes one hour between Shudehill and Clifton. The number 72 is an hourly service between Salford Shopping City, Pendleton and Clifton, Monday to Saturday between 0800 to 1600 from Clifton and 0835 to 1635 from Pendleton. The bus service links up with railway stations along the route.
The Clifton Country Park is quite big and is worthy of exploration on its own before continuing on the walk. There is a Visitors Centre and a large lake to walk around, with picnic and children’s play areas. There are plenty of birds to be seen on the lake and for those interested in Industrial Heritage the site was once home to the Wet Earth Colliery.