Salford is a city in Greater Manchester in northwest England, with a population of 103,886 in 2011. It's separated from the City of Manchester by a loop of the River Irwell. Its biggest attraction is the Quays, but this area is described on a separate page.
Salford was a market and manufacturing town in Lancashire, with the smaller town of Manchester to its east. Both grew rapidly with the 18th / 19th century textile trade, with Manchester outgrowing Salford, and together they became a major seaport 40 miles inland through the digging of the Manchester Ship Canal. But in the 20th century the UK textile industry collapsed, and the port became derelict as the canal was too small for container ships.
In 1974 Salford was transferred from Lancashire to join the new entity of Greater Manchester, and its city boundaries were extended out as far as semi-rural Worsley and Walkden. In 1986 a bold regeneration scheme was launched in the docklands, turning these into a lively modern destination with striking architecture and major attractions. The Quays span the two cities and are therefore detailed separately, with only brief references here. They're two miles west of central Salford, and the problem is that the centre hasn't enjoyed the same investment and political attention, and has had to make do with trickle-down wealth from The Quays. The main reason you'd base yourself here rather than on The Quays is for access to the Victoria-Deansgate strip of downtown Manchester.
Manchester Airport (MAN IATA) is ten miles south of Salford. A direct train runs hourly from the airport via Manchester Piccadilly to Salford Central, taking 25 min, and heading for Blackpool. Otherwise take any train to Piccadilly and change.
Trains from towns across northern England stop at 1 Salford Central, and many also stop at 2 Salford Crescent, on their way to Manchester 3 Victoria. This means the service between Salford and Victoria is very frequent, and takes barely 5 min, the previous terrible trains with an interior that looks like a bus have now been confined to history.
From London Euston and the Midlands you normally have to travel to Manchester Piccadilly, change for Victoria then change again for Salford.
The train is not convenient for Salford Quays, as these are a mile or two west of the centre.
Metrolink trams (orange and blue lines) take 20 min from Manchester Piccadilly via St Peters Square, Deansgate and Cornbrook to Salford Quays and Media City, with the blue line continuing to Eccles. These stops are in Fare Zone 2 so a single journey from city centre is £2.80; trams run every 10 min 06:00-00:00. Eastbound, both lines continue through Piccadilly to Ashton-under-Lyne. Change at one of the central stops for trams to Old Trafford, Stretford, Sale and Altrincham; to Imperial War Museum and Trafford Centre (this line opened in March 2020); to East Didsbury; to Wythenshawe and the airport; and via Victoria to Bury and to Chadderton, Oldham and Rochdale.
The tram is not convenient for central Salford, as The Quays are a mile or two west.
National Express Bus NX060 runs hourly from Liverpool to Salford (55 min), continuing via central Manchester to Leeds (another 90 min). Change in Manchester for other routes, eg NX540 from London Victoria.
Find your way onto M60, Manchester's orbital motorway, and exit at Jct. 12 onto M602 the spur motorway into Salford.
Walk is generally the best option, though it's a couple of miles between central Salford and the Quays. Bus services have been cut back in favour of the tram, so areas that aren't on a tram route are cut adrift.
- See 1 Salford Quays for Lowry Art Gallery and Theatres, Media City, and Imperial War Museum North.
- 2 Salford Cathedral, 250 Chapel St M3 5LE. Until 1829 the Roman Catholics in England were forbidden to build churches, and faced many other restrictions, so the city's large Irish population was ill-served. The RC Cathedral of St John the Evangelist was completed in 1848 in neo-Gothic but not consecrated until the builders were finally paid in 1890. It's not "oriented"ː "west" where you enter is actually south. It's a light, airy space under a soaring groined vault ceiling.
- 3 Salford Museum & Art Gallery, Crescent M5 4WU (200 yards east of Salford Crescent railway station), ☏ +44 161 778 0800. M closed; Tu-Fr9ː30AM-4PM; Sa&Su 11:30AM-4PM. Rotating exhibitions, permanent collection includes a mock-up Victorian street. Pay & display car parking. Free.
- 4 Working Class Movement Library, 50 The Crescent M5 4WX (100 yards south of Crescent railway station). Tu-F 10ː00-17ː00. In a mock-Tudorbethan building that used to be a nurses' home, this archive and resource documents the seldom-told lives of the cities' working classes, including the Suffragette movement which had its northern powerbase here. Free.
- 5 Ordsall Hall, 322 Ordsall Lane M5 3AN, ☏ +44 161 872 0251. M-Th 10ː00-16ː00, Su 13ː00-16ː00. Timber-framed 16th-century mansion with 17th-century brick wings added, and much altered in the 18th century. There's a hoaky legend that Guy Fawkes planned the gunpowder plot here then escaped through a hidden tunnel. Free.
- 6 Barton Swing Aqueduct in Eccles is an engineering oddity. A conventional aqueduct carried the Bridgewater Canal across the River Irwell from 1761. Then in the 1890s the river became the Manchester Ship Canal, and the aqueduct was too low for shipping to pass. A lock system would have impeded Bridgewater Canal traffic and wasted water so the solution was this aqueduct that could be swung aside, pivoting on an island. The mechanism still operates, although sizable shipping rarely uses the Ship Canal nowadays so it's normally parked "open" to Bridgewater Canal boats.
- Worsley is a pleasant village 5 miles west of Salford. It was the seat of the Dukes of Bridgewater, whose third of that ilk built the Bridgewater Canal, opened in 1761 to huge commercial success. At Worsley Delph, by jcn 13 of M60, he dispensed with the tedious process of hauling coal up the shaft to load onto canal barges, and tunneled his canal right into the mines. It's a good spot for a pub lunch, though the canal waters are sometimes a shocking tangerine from the iron oxide in the old mine workings.
- 7 RHS Bridgewater Garden, Leigh Rd, Worsley M28 2LJ, ☏ +44 161 503 6100. Daily 10:00-18:00. Extensive garden opened in 2021 within the grounds of the former Worsley New Hall. "Discounts for car free visitors" Adult £12.65, child £6.35, RHS & U5 free.
- 8 Lancashire Mining Museum, Higher Green Lane, Astley M29 7JB, ☏ +44 1942 895841. Th Sa Su 13:30-17:00. This colliery was a latecomer, extracting the coal beneath Chat Moss from 1912 to 1970. It became a museum, with its impressive tall headgear and winding engine, and a collection of colliery locomotives.
- Watch football at 1 Salford City FC, Moor Lane M7 3PZ. In 2019 they were promoted and now play soccer in League Two, the game's fourth tier. Their Moor Lane stadium (capacity 5000, and sponsored as "Peninsula Stadium") is two miles north of the centre, take the bus up Bury New Road. But if you came here to make a point of not watching Man United you're in the wrong place, as the club is owned by United's renowned "Class of 92" players.
- Or at 2 Manchester United: see Salford Quays for details of Salford's other club, just south across the river in Old Trafford.
- Watch rugby - both versions - at 3 Salford City Stadium (AJ Bell Stadium), Eccles M30 7EY. This 20,000 capacity stadium is at jcn 11 of M60, four miles west of the centre. Salford Red Devils play rugby league (13-a-side) in Super League, the top tier in the Northern Hemisphere. Sale Sharks play rugby union (15-a-side) in the Premiership, England's top tier for that version.
- Salford retail park is on Regent Road just west of Campanile Hotel, with a big Sainsbury's.
- Central convenience stores are Tesco Express next to the station, and Sainsbury's Local on Chapel St by the bridge.
- Loads of retail including another Tesco Express on Salford Quays.
- The places near the station are just takeaways with a few bucket seats. Keep going past the first one you see, Caribbean Flavas, which gets rotten reviews. Further east on Blackfriars, Eastzest is a decent Indian restaurant open daily 17:00-23:30.
- Good restaurants at The Campanile and The Lowry Hotel, listed below.
- Lots of budget eateries on Salford Quays, Media City, and just across the bridge in Old Trafford.
- Escape the city to Worsley: George's Dining Room and Tung Fong are on the canal bank, and Worsley Old Hall and Grill in the Park are by the golf club.
- Eccles is mostly just residential, but its western corner of Monton is green and has The Blue Bell, La Turka Bistro, Enoteca Wine Bar, The Park, and Crompton's at the Waterside.
- Eccles Cakes originate from that village, though (like "Cheddar cheese") it's not a protected designation of origin so they can be made anywhere. It's a small cake of flaky pastry stuffed with currants, often dubbed "fly pie". Nice with afternoon tea on a grey day.
- Around Salford Central station find The New Oxford, King's Arms, Menagerie Restaurant & Bar, Seven Bro7hers Beerhouse, Le Cassis Wine Bar, and The Old Pint Pot.
- There's a whole slew of pubs on Salford Quays and Media City. There's nothing further west till you get away out to Eccles and Worsley, see "Eat".
- Friedrich Engels grew up in Wuppertal, Germany but in 1842 was sent to work in Salford in his father's thread mill, to cure him of his damnfool revolutionary notions. He carefully documented the squalid city, published as The Condition of the Working Class in England, and corresponded voluminously with Karl Marx. He later showed Marx around the city; they drank, among other places, at "The Crescent" on the street of that name in Salford. The class struggle engendered by capitalism, they'd earnestly agree after a pint or three, was bound to lead to the self-destruction of that iniquitous system... and sure enough the pub closed down in 2017.
Riverside hotels can book up early, as they're so close to big events in Manchester. Conversely, you might pick accommodation around Manchester Victoria and Deansgate if where you're aiming for is Salford.
- 1 Campanile, 55 Ordsall Lane, Regent Rd, Salford M5 4RS (on riverside), ☏ +44 161 833 1845. Budget hotel, generally value for money but ask to see the room first: some are in good condition, others are dingy. Great location, quarter-mile walk to Castlefield, downside is street noise. B&B double £55.
- 2 Stay Inn, 55 Blackfriars Rd, Salford M3 7DB (junction with Trinity Way), ☏ +44 161 907 2277. Budget hotel, free parking. B&B double £70.
- 3 Manchester Central Travelodge, Blackfriars St, Salford M3 5AL (not to be confused with Manchester Central Arena Travelodge just north of Victoria), ☏ +44 871 984 6159 (premium rate). Great quality for what you're paying: room comfort and cleanliness, service, food and location all score well. B&B double £55.
- 4 Premier Inn, North Tower, Victoria Bridge St, Salford M3 5AS, ☏ +44 333 321 1309. Good value budget hotel. Breakfast £10 pp. Double (room only) £70.
- 5 Novotel Manchester West, Worsley Brow, Worsley M28 2YA (at jcn 13 of M60), ☏ +44 161 729 0029. Decent mid-range hotel, part of Accor chain, rooms and decor are kinda tired but good location for motorists. John Gilbert pub & grill is next door. B&B double £100.
- Lowry Hotel, 50 Dearmans Place, Salford M3 5LH (200 yards east of Salford Central railway station), ☏ +44 161 827 4000. Slick business hotel in a great location, but £18 pp for breakfast? Don't abbreviate the name to just "The Lowry", as that refers to the Lowry Gallery two miles away. Double (room only) £200.
Salford was always a rough industrial town and became worse in the "noughties" with organised crime and drug-fuelled violence. It's since been heavily policed, and security concerns elsewhere in the world have paradoxically made it safer, with CCTV and stewarding: public disorderly behaviour is now curbed more promptly. Show usual caution around late-night drunks and where you park the car.
As of June 2021, Salford has 4G from O2, and 5G from EE, Three and Vodafone.
- If the delights of big-city Salford should cloy, cross the River Irwell into its eastern arrondissement, which is called Manchester.
- Altrincham a few miles south has Dunham Massey Hall, and to its south is Tatton Park.
- Chester retains its ancient city walls and many historic buildings.
|Routes through Salford|
|Stockport ← Warrington ←||anticlockwise clockwise||→ Oldham → Leeds|
|Glasgow ← Bolton ←||NW SE||→ merges with|
|Liverpool ← Warrington ←||W E||→ merges with and|
|merges with and ←||W E||→ Central Manchester|
|Preston ← Horwich ←||NW SE||→ Central Manchester → South Manchester|
|Warrington ←||SW E||→ continues as → Central Manchester|
|City of Salford|