Salford commemorates the First World War centenary

Researcher at IWM North, Charlotte Czyzyk in front of one of the pieces from Women and Industry in t

Researcher at IWM North, Charlotte Czyzyk in front of one of the pieces from Women and Industry in the First World War exhibition - Credit: Archant

Salford Quays has been under a lot of regeneration over recent years. However, Rebekka O’Grady visited to find out more about its deep-rooted history and connection to the First World War.

Craig Morrison,with his light projection, 'Thank You'

Craig Morrison,with his light projection, 'Thank You' - Credit: Archant

It was one of the greatest cotton towns of the 18th century and when the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, it reinforced its place as a major player in the nation’s economy. After a period of post-industrial decline, Salford has enjoyed a surge of development in recent years, and this regeneration is nowhere more evident than on its waterfront.

Salford Quays has become a hub of activity, especially due to the development of MediaCityUk, which houses the northern bases of both BBC and ITV.

With this major centre of UK media production now based here, those of us with non-London-centric views can see that Salford is a diverse place and different from its sister, Manchester.

The area is making a positive name for itself in its own right - contrary to what BBC presenter, Evan Davis may think.

View toward The Lowry from the Air Shard at IWM North

View toward The Lowry from the Air Shard at IWM North - Credit: Archant

This year sees Britain commemorating the centenary of World War One, and at the Quays’ many attractions, there is plenty going on to remember those who fought for Britain – both abroad and at home.

The Imperial War Museum North will be featuring a series of exhibitions throughout the year to mark the anniversary of WW1.

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The museum, designed by international architect Daniel Libeskind, was built in 2002 and contains thousands of unique objects that each tells a remarkable story. Their newest exhibition, From Street to Trench: A World War That Shaped A Region, opened this month and will run for a year until May 2015. It is the largest exhibition ever created exploring the lives and experiences of people from the north west of England during the First World War.

Researcher for the free exhibition, Charlotte Czyzyk, said that the centenary is an opportunity to look at real life stories, and pull out the local links.

Director of IWM North, Graham Boxer

Director of IWM North, Graham Boxer - Credit: Archant

‘Visitors who come to the exhibit may see their local town or city, and then be inspired to go on to find out more about their family history. We will display over 200 pieces, many which will be on public display for the first time. Inspiring personal objects from war veterans and their families will also feature.’

From a flame-thrower manufactured in Manchester, to a modern motorbike that journeyed only last year around 52 ‘thankful villages’ – places where all those that left to fight arrived safely back home – including Arkholme and Nether Kellet.

‘The motorbike is a positive story. We associate the war with death, but this is about those that survived,’ added Charlotte.

From Street to Trench also covers those who kept the home fires burning. It incorporates an external exhibition that launched earlier this year, Women and Industry in the First World War.

This huge, photographic display showcases six images taken by official WW1 photographer, George Parham Lewis. Five images depict Lancastrian women at work in the glass, vehicle and food industries, demonstrating the important range of roles performed by extraordinary women during the war.

More of these powerful images will be featured on a full-wall display within the newer exhibition, along with some of the objects the female workers produced beneath the photographs.

Graham Boxer, Director of IMW North said that he is looking forward to the museum’s year ahead.

‘It’s a very exciting year in the sense that the First World War could be described as a tragic event, but it altered our lives. It is outside of living memory, and it is important to reflect on that watershed event and ensure that people understand what the war was about and why it is important for us today. The objects we display highlight the poignancy and courage of people who shaped and were shaped by the first global conflict. Some of their stories are still untold, and we want to change that.’

The war will also feature on stage. Michael Murporgo’s 1982 classic novel War Horse is now a critically acclaimed theatre production and it returns to The Lowry this summer. After a successful run in 2013, The Lowry’s Trevor Evers said it is the perfect way for the theatre to commemorate the war.

‘This is our way of honouring the centenary of WW1. War Horse was immensely popular last year, and we can’t wait for it to return in July. It is a powerful production.’

The performance will run alongside other exhibitions and events at The Lowry, including an exclusive exhibition in partnership with the BBC.

Here’s One We Made Earlier celebrates the past, present and future of BBC Children’s broadcasting, exploring the story of over 90 years of programmes and well loved characters.

The roof of The Lowry was home to a special large-scale contemporary artwork.

Hosted by Quays Culture, the display consisted of powerful lasers mounted onto the roof of The Lowry beaming ‘Thank You’ in Morse code up to two miles high across the night sky.

The installation was created by South Wales artist Craig Morrison, in memory of those who served in war and, in particular, codebreaker Alan Turing, who lived in Manchester.

‘I was inspired by Alan Turing, who broke Nazi codes at Bletchley Park in the Second World War,’ said Craig.

‘I wanted to create something that was positive for him, as he was convicted for homosexual activity and this overshadowed his tremendous work. Dr Turing was a significant figure, and without him, life may not be the same today. This is a thank you to him, for supplying the foundations of modern computing and accomplishing what he did. I want people to remember him in a positive way.’

War encompasses everything, and these exhibits, memorials and performances show how many people were involved - here in Lancashire on the homefront, and those away in battle.

Salford Quays is a city that is currently undergoing a lot of change and seeing the creation of some cutting edge architecture.

But it still has history in its heart.



Sail down memory lane


When the Manchester Ship Canal opened in January 1894, it was the largest river navigation canal in the world. The newly created Port of Manchester became Britain’s third busiest port, and many ships during the First World War departed from here on their way out to sea. Along its route include major landmarks such as the Barton Swing Aqueduct, the only swing aqueduct in the world, Trafford Park and now MediaCityUK.


You can take a trip down the canal to enjoy the full picturesque experience of the Quays. The Manchester Cruises company specialises in tours along the water, which depart for a round trip from near the Lowry. Company founder Martyn Driscoll set up Manchester Cruises in 2012. After a successful venture with party boats in Cardiff, Martyn wanted to give tourists and locals alike the chance to view the area from the historic waters.



3 other things to do while in Salford Quays:



Take a peek behind the scenes in a tour of the BBC. Home to a many programmes including Match of the Day, Blue Peter, BBC Breakfast and Radio 5 Live, you will be given a fascinating insight into how TV and radio works, and even have the chance to take part in your own TV production in the interactive studio. Or if soaps are more your thing, hop over to ITV and explore the cobbles of Coronation Street. Visit interior room sets and see where some famous scenes were filmed, or get a photo outside the iconic Rovers Return.


The Lowry Outlets

With over 80 stores, succumb to retail therapy and grab yourself a bargain at this waterfront retail outlet. Take a break from walking around the Quays and get a bite to eat in one of the restaurants or visit the cinema.


Old Trafford

Often remarked as the most famous football club in the world, visit Manchester United’s ground to see where all the magic happens. Visit on a match day to catch the boys in action, or take a tour and walk in the footsteps of your heroes through the tunnel and home dressing room.