While millions of pounds worth of public money has been spent on contemporary `heritage trails' and temporary `cultural installations', the Lost Salford Streets exhibition makes a compelling case for a permanent museum to house memories from a disappeared and fast disappearing Salford.
This fantastic show, at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, is split into the areas of central Salford that have been all but bulldozed over the last fifty years – Salford 7, Salford 6, Salford 5 and Salford 3 – and brings the community back to life through old family snaps, street signs, maps and taped memories.
But the exhibition is not so much about donkey stoning the step and tin baths on the wall. Some of these streets have disappeared in the last few weeks, as the Salford clearances continue in a never ending, community fracturing process which, as people keep telling the Salford Star, is `ripping the heart out of Salford'.
Lost Salford Streets is that heart. The walls are full of smiling girls on communion day, proud footy teams and marching bands, children and pensioners cheerfully mooching in the blitzed streets, and works photos from factories long closed. And everywhere are those street signs, ripped off gable ends before the bulldozers arrived, kept in sheds and attics, and now donated to the homeless Streets Museum as a lasting legacy of community destruction.
"Although we've been hopping around for the last seven years as a mobile museum we're trying to consolidate it now and go to the next level" says Lawrence Cassidy of the Streets Museum and Re-Tracing Salford project "What we're trying to do here is provide a framework for a permanent space that can exist to commemorate Salford districts that have been demolished.
"I'd say thirty per cent of the exhibition is from the 60s and 70s, while seventy per cent covers the 1980s until now, with the Broughton street signs from over the last seven years" he adds "It's complemented by the work of photographers like John Travis and Joe Elliot who have witnessed all the clearances and documented them, and it's great to see their photos exhibited."
There's also contemporary creations by artists Charmaine Turner and Darren Bradshaw, plus a fabric banner by Ordsall Community Arts and a huge chair patterned with lost Salford streets in which people can sit and listen to oral histories of the area.
Visitors can easily spend almost a whole day rummaging in proper Salford – and wonder when these incredible artefacts will ever find a permanent home.
Lost Salford Streets
Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Peel Park, Crescent M5 4WU
Until December 2012 free
Open Monday - Friday 10am-4:45pm
Saturday and Sunday 1-5pm
On Saturday August 4th 1-4pm there's a `stencil your own street sign' family event at the exhibition which is free.
Lawrence Cassidy will be at the exhibition most Saturdays throughout its run and anyone is welcome to bring in family snaps to be scanned for the Lost Streets archive, or donate any artefacts.
For further details on the Re-Tracing Salford and Streets Museum project see www.streetsmuseum.co.uk
For further information on Salford Museum and Art Gallery see www.salford.gov.uk/salfordmuseum
or phone 0161 778 0800