Star date: 18th October 2013


The iconic blue cargo cranes at Salford Quays are to be demolished next week, in what many people will see as the final betrayal of Salford's heritage.

Despite attempts by the community to list the iconic cranes and to get them re-defined as assets of community value, and despite offers by companies to help restore them, Salford Mayor Ian Stewart signed their death warrant and now the cranes are set to be replaced by a £150,000 phone app which will, er, show where they once were.

Full details here…

Salford Quays Cranes To Be Demolished Salford Quays Cranes Getting Ready For Demolition Salford Quays Cranes Getting Ready For Demolition
Salford Quays Cranes Getting Ready For Demolition Salford Quays Cranes Getting Ready For Demolition Salford Quays Cranes Getting Ready For Demolition
Salford Quays Cranes Getting Ready For Demolition Nantes Tourism Website The Cranes in Spain
The Cranes in Spain
click image to enlarge

Despite Salford Council and its Mayor Ian Stewart spending, and continuing to spend, millions of pounds on a new fountain, water taxis and bridges, one of the major landmarks in the city – the iconic blue cargo cranes at Salford Quays – are to be demolished next week, despite frantic efforts by the community to save them.

The cranes, which date back to the Sixties and are one of the most visual reminders that the posh Quays used to be a working docks, are due to be removed and dismantled between Friday 25th and Monday 28th October, and notices have now gone up, ironically, asking for people's `patience' and `co-operation' during the trashing.

As the news spread last night, Salford's community expressed its feeling on Facebook groups… "idiots"… "shame on them"… "they will be gone forever replaced by a phone app costing £150,000…scandalous tribute to those that gave all their working lives to make the docks successful only for Peel to snap them up"… "We need a protest"…

Salford Council originally had £626,000 ring fenced to refurbish the cranes, and had a lowest quote of £648,500 to `disassemble, refurbish and re-erect' the structures, leaving a shortfall of just £25,000 plus maintenance costs of £8000 a year.

In January, Salford Mayor Ian Stewart put out a statement saying "It would be wrong to spend £1million on preserving two rusting and dangerous cranes, when the people of Salford are struggling to make ends meet…". He failed to mention that the ring fenced funding was for capital projects and couldn't be spent on `people'.

Instead, the money set aside for the cranes was spent, the Salford Star believes, on the £300,000 Biospheric Project `pea farm' (see here) and the cost of demolition, while the remainder is to be blown on a heritage mobile phone app costing £150,000, as exclusively revealed by the Salford Star recently (see here). The app, to which the Council is contributing between £50,000 and £100,000, "will use text and visual images to show the past/present/potential future of the area, providing prompts to highlight landmarks, key buildings etc".

In other words, you point your phone at the empty spot and it will show you a picture of the disappeared cranes. "It's absolutely ridiculous, if there's money available for a mobile phone app then there's money available to restore the cranes" said James Walsh of the Salford Quays Heritage and Nature Group.

Indeed, the Salford Quays Heritage and Nature Group, Save Salford and various other Salford facebook groups and organisations have tried frantically to save the cranes – trying to get them listed as `Assets of Community Value', and listed via English Heritage – but all in vain, as they issued a statement labelling the political process `a sham'.

Over the last few years Salford Council has tried everything to get rid of one of Salford's last landmarks, using truly bizarre logic, the last of which was that the cranes couldn't be `assets of community value' because they will be `dismantled and removed from the site'… or `The cranes can't be assets of community value because we're going to bulldoze them'.

Despite describing the cranes as an "important local landmark" that "represent an important link with the heritage and history of Salford Quays" Council reports stated that they "Will detract from the Quays vista", or spoil the yuppies' view', and that "In their current condition the cargo cranes are not an asset to Salford Quays" – despite the Council in earlier reports admitting that its neglect had caused the cranes' current condition!

The whole episode has shone a light on where Salford Council's attitude is coming from – and that of Salford Mayor Ian Stewart, who sees determined to spend £millions on new bridges and `iconic' structures, while neglecting the city's past heritage.

The trashing of the blue Salford Quays cargo cranes will forever be Ian Stewart's legacy to Salford.


See previous Salford Star articles for full background...

* Mayor to Sign Demolition order for Cranes - click here

* Cranes Hopes Dashed by Bizarre Council Logic - click here (follow links at the end of the article)

Last night James Walsh, a Labour Party member and member of the Salford Docklands Heritage and Nature Group, posted an open letter to Ian Stewart on facebook...


17th October 2013

Dear Mr Stewart

I thank you for your recent letter but feel that many questions have not been answered and that the report that we issued you with has not been addressed by either yourself or council officers. There is still a case to answer.

I am aware that there are many other very important heritage sites within the borough of Salford, but there are NONE with the exceptional, stunning visual presence of the cranes, that is why they are so LOVED within the Salford community. The location and the superb vista they provide, make them UNIQUE, ICONIC and IRREPLACEABLE.
I would compare them on somewhat of a par to the Statue of Liberty in New York in this respect ie: that New York has many other fine examples of heritage but you would not use this as an excuse to knock down the Statue of Liberty!

It is a real insult to the people of Salford, past and present, for Peel Ports to suggest that they can't afford to pay for the cranes conservation. The amount of profit that Peel have made out of the blood, sweat, tears and sometimes even lives of Salfordians over the years is completely dis-proportionate to the amount the cranes would cost to restore and refurbish. Mr Whittaker would not be sat in his Isle of Man tax free exile mansion were it not for many years of hard graft from our dockers and sailors and associated workers. It would be my educated guess that Mr Whittaker could pay for the cranes several times over with the amount of tax that he avoids living in the Isle of Man!

Many Salfordians who have some clue as to the amount of money that Peel makes meet the concept that Peel can't afford to find a few hundred thousand pounds for this project with amusement.

The exceptional short-sightedness of this situation baffles many Salfordians. With my businessman hat on, I can see the value of the cranes, they can be a profitable asset to the city of Salford, including Peel, for many years to come. Just imagine in 100 years or 200 years how valuable an asset they could be for the city of Salford.

In this situation, the Salford Docklands Heritage and Nature Group has the backing of the PEOPLE of Salford, as far as I am aware it is only our organisation who has actually done public opinion surveys/consultation to find out actually what the people want. Let it not be forgotten that you, and other council officials involved, were elected to represent the people and we have, in our report, given you a very fair view of what the people want.

We have been exceptionally disappointed with the political process! We are astonished to once again have to find out what is supposed to be happening with the cranes through local media rather than council officers! That Quays Culture have been consulted AHEAD of our group who have submitted a Community Preservation Order is somewhat unfathomable.

On a very personal note, I should inform you that I recently calculated that my family have given around 100 years service to the city of Salford since their arrival from Ireland in 1876 – my great grandfather, docker, my grandfather, docker & military service, my father, docker, military service and National Dock Labour Board Welfare Officer, my uncle, docker, military service and crane driver, my mother worked with Ordsall Community Arts on the Four Corners project, and we worked together with the Unlocking The Quays project to produce a fine memorial to my father, the Casuals sculpture, that is located adjacent to the Lowry Bridge

And now I, myself, have concentrated my time to the city of Salford over the last few years, continuing my families fine tradition of civic pride, doing huge amounts of volunteering in the community, for organisations such as Salford Docklands Heritage and Nature Group, Manchester Ship Canal Conservation Network, Ordsall Community Arts, Ordsall Trust, £250,000 Christie Fund, Amber Project, etc, whilst being registered as a student at the University of Salford, as well as volunteering for Salford City Council.

I was brought up as a kid around the dockers, I spent many hours in the old dockers club and accompanying my dad to retired dockers meetings and socials, I am steeped in the unique values, traditions and culture of the docks.

Within the Salford Docklands Heritage and Nature Group there are many local people with family members who were dockers, and individual areas of community expertise.

Can Quays Culture claim the same credentials to be given such an important and culturally sensitive project? The mobile phone app suggestion has been met with incredulity and derision within the Salford community so I suggest not.

Even if you have to write to, or meet personally with, Mr Whittaker, who is still making vast amounts of money from the city of Salford, I ask you to do what you can, admittedly in very difficult times, to think the unthinkable yourself and help to restore, not only the cranes, but a little bit of Salfordian pride, that has taken many kickings over the years, especially since the docks closed in 1982.

We implore Salford City Council and Peel, once again, to help to conserve the cranes for all Salfordians, past, present and future generations

Yours sincerely,

James Walsh
Labour Party member
Salford Docklands Heritage and Nature Group
Manchester Ship Canal Conservation Network

UPDATE: 18th October

* Next Saturday, 26th October, as the cranes are being demolished, the ironically named Quays Culture which is creating the £150,000 app to replace the cranes, is having a Quays Culture Open Day.

It's full of events on the Quays - at the MediaCityUK Plaza and in The Lowry - including "the sights and sounds of the striking sound installation Audible Forces" and a "talk from the astonishing intellect of theorist and activist Pat Kane"...perhaps Pat would like to show his `astonishing intellect' by explaining Salford Council's act of heritage vandalism?

UPDATE: 19th October


Today the Salford Docklands Heritage and Nature Group issued the following statement surrounding the demolition of the cranes….

"Participants at the Salford Heritage Conference at Ordsall Hall on 18th October 2013, expressed their whole-hearted shock and disappointment about the cranes situation. This conference included not just many members of the Salford Local History Forum, but many people from other areas of the country, including Cheshire, who paid £25 per ticket to learn about our fascinating heritage, including a tour of the docklands.

The highlight for the majority of the participants was the sight of the magnificent docks cranes. On the morning of the conference, preparatory work began to demolish the iconic docks cranes, against the wishes of many Salford residents. The cranes are due to be demolished due to the signature of the Mayor of Salford, Mr Ian Stewart, to a demolition order.
At the same time, in Mr Stewart's homeland of Scotland, The Scotsman newspaper and the international engineering community announced this morning that the restored Glasgow Titan Crane is now designated an International Historic Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark, up with the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Harbour Bridge, illustrating the huge community benefits of restoring industrial heritage.

The Titan Crane at Clydebank is all that remains of the once world famous John Browns shipyard, where famous battleships such as HMS Hood and magnificent passenger liners like the QE2 were constructed.

The Titan was acquired by local urban regeneration company, Clydebank, and re-built from private owners in 2004. Following community consultation, the clear decision was to restore the Titan, make it accessible to the public and for an illumination programme to light up the Crane at night. The design tender to restore the Crane and convert to a visitor attraction was won by Glasgow based architects, Chris Stewart Architects, later known as Collective Architecture.

Clydebank are the `Urban Vision' of Glasgow, a local regeneration company, who have done a very sound job of community consultation, listening to the decision of the people and acting upon the wishes of the community – it would be superb if Salford City Council and Urban Vision could follow suit…"

Update: 24th October

NIgel Pivaro says `Save Salford's Cranes' - click here

martin hogan wrote
at 17:08:31 on 26 October 2013
Things can could be done with the cranes: 1. A local restaurant could use them for intimate & quiet dinners 2. Build a death slide over the canal 3. Have them a viewing platforms (a bridge between the two)
Darrel Cooper wrote
at 20:51:49 on 25 October 2013
So sad, my father worked on these cranes and as a boy i went to see them often. These are the last remaining things of the old docks left. These are part of Manchester history. Typical council - lets demolish everything and waste the money on useless other things. Pea farms, fencing, oh no not lets forget all the council company cars and high wages for the mayor.
Michael Felse wrote
at 14:48:09 on 25 October 2013
2pm Friday 25th Oct 2013 - cameras at side of Dock Cranes - sad page in Salford's History is looming.
Ken Mckelvey wrote
at 10:08:52 on 25 October 2013
It's a pity we cannot hire SWAMPY. And his save the earth pals who did a marvelous job slowing down more destruction of our forest areas and wild habitat At 74 I personally am to old to be climbing Cranes, But seriously the situation needs to be looked into again by this Council. If we have millions to give or lend and. in my opinion to Iffy business's,Then surely we can find a way to find money for our last semblance of the working people' employment in a once proud City, We had Cotten Engineering Coal mining Docking steel chemicals A certain Women binned it all now we have A gang of Councilors who seem determined to eradicate any semblance that any body ever worked. In our fair City
Kenneth w mckelvey wrote
at 06:07:23 on 25 October 2013
The Council has done more damage to Salfords Heritage than the Luftwaffe.they knocked down the T~G Office on Oldfield road an Art Deco building down/ A glass box stands there now./A Mill on Liverpool street Owned and run by Friedrich Engels. /Now a car park/.Any amount of Victorian Cotten Mills./In Eccles their are buildings from the 16th century falling down through the Gross neglect by this Council/.The Mansion in Buile Hill park no sale for it so they boarded it up put no Air Vents in the boards so the building will decay quicker. /The langworthy Hotel a masterpiece in brick construction./Nothing left of Salfords Coal Mining Heritage . Now the Cranes on Salford Docks/It is always the same crocodile tears and the excuse no money. But Salford can afford 70 Councillors. 12 million on useless fountains on victoria millions more for traffic calming on chapel street. Any amount for more and more mega waged advisors in the Civic/.They are as a council a waste of time /.And as a footnote if you try to phone them or E mail them you will be very fortunate if they even give you a reply 70 councellors What do they do to earn their corn. ?
Mark Hadfield wrote
at 19:07:05 on 24 October 2013
An absolute disgrace that anyone can consider destroying these historic landmarks. Even worse that valuable funds are then spent on a mobile app' to remember the cranes!! Who wants to live in a virtual world of how it used to look given the chance to restore these icons. You should be ashamed Mr Stewart!!
Michael Felse wrote
at 13:02:07 on 24 October 2013
@Paul is correct, "the very same". I hang my head in shame for helping wrong Labour people into power. It is Labour selection process that stinks, family and friends picking who will take the seats. Labour does have some good members, they are the ones that can save Salford. If these allow the Dock Cranes to be destroyed Labour will never be trusted again, from MPs to Councillors they will see the wrath of locals. I apologies for the mess Salford is in and I assure all I now seek to help mend the problem.
Paul wrote
at 07:13:46 on 24 October 2013
Is this the same Michael felse who divided votes in local elections so labour can stay in power in salford, and is now championing pm for councillor, sorry Michael I think I can hear the nurse calling you back to your padded cell, and if your quick Michael they may double the medication and make us all happy
Shaun wrote
at 18:52:03 on 23 October 2013
The BBC and ITV seem to have kept quiet on the subject, but QuaysTV News are covering the story this Friday 25th October and looking to capture the publics reaction. The broadcast goes live at 13:30 at www.quaysnews.net Such a shame to see them go :(
at 11:40:11 on 23 October 2013
Is there some reason that the BBC or ITV operating out of at Media City don't want to run with the background of the story? Failing all that perhaps the local Councillor, a private landlord to boot and has/had a direct connection with the industry and a partner linked with Coronation St(according to the SCC cllrs interest page) could be asked why they have kept to quiet on the crane issue?
Michael Felse wrote
at 11:39:22 on 23 October 2013
Salford Dock Cranes were operated by Women! Why are our Salford Labour Women MPs not shouting out at the Labour Mayor about saving women's unique heritage?
Sue Grimditch Tour Guide wrote
at 03:32:52 on 23 October 2013
London's Excel International Exhibition & Conference Centre in London's regenerated Royal Victoria Dock, hosts international visitors and hosted 2012 Olympic Events, saw fit to retain not two but at least TEN cranes from the days of the working docks, but Salford's Mayor & Council don't think the Salford cranes fit in with the regenerated Salford Quays! See Below for a copy of the text describing the area of London Docks. 'For a break in between sightseeing there is a great choice of cafés, bars and restaurants. Beyond the cranes and warehouses, a reminder of London's era as a major sea port'. With information boards and images showing the Salford Docks cranes being operated by women during the First World War, these could have been a fantastic contribution to the Quays Heritage Trail. To allow the cranes to deteriorate so badly then to be less than truthful about the cost of refurbishment is a sad indictment of the Urban Lack of Vision Partnership and Salford's Mayor.
James Walsh wrote
at 03:32:39 on 23 October 2013
What a lot of people are not grasping is what the COMMUNITY PRESERVATION ORDER is all about, I don't think even anyone at the Council is quite understanding it, perhaps because it is new legislation The Community Preservation Order is all about heritage assets being transferred to community groups so that the Community Group that submits the Community Preservation Order can then get a business plan and funding together, the Salford Docklands Heritage & Nature Group have submitted a Community Preservation Order, but have not even been asked for a business plan, the transfer of the cranes to the people can be done without costing ANYTHING to the Council, unless they want to chip in
Dick Pratt wrote
at 21:27:43 on 22 October 2013
Bloody Disgrace. Why would you go to Salford to point your smart phone at a QR. These guys have no idea of what makes places attractive and makes you want to visit. I live in West Sussex (born and bred) but love the north for what it was and what it is.
Wrote wrote
at 21:27:33 on 22 October 2013
Am I wrong in thinking that the docks themselves, the dock office & docks gateway are proof that there was a working docks in Salford? It would be great to keep the cranes but it clearly isn't a viable option - from what I can see the council have looked into funding routes as have local people & none of them has come up with either the funding or a viable way to keep the cranes - so they have to go. We have other reminders of the docks heritage, let these go & move on.
Michael Felse wrote
at 16:07:40 on 22 October 2013
@DW - I can tell you, with Paul Massey elected into our Council Chamber there would be no sweeping any anti-Salford policies under the Council table. We saw Paul in Action during the Mayoral debates and it did prove he would not let anyone take advantage of the people of Salford. I believe Paul is the man to put the stop to everything wrong in our Council. At 65 next year my council election days are over but my desire to get people of action into office are alive and kicking. Come on Paul, be my local Councillor.
Mr. Concerned wrote
at 18:33:59 on 21 October 2013
I was listening to the LDOK.net radio channel, and they were discussing this issue on their Power Hour Autism show. I think it is disgusting that this monument is not being preserved. The price the council are quoting to repair the cranes, is ridiculous. That price is the correct if they were going to reuse the cranes and put them back to work, however the price somewhat diminishes if your turning them into a rigid piece of art. And if they are being turned into a rigid piece of art, there is no need to dismantle them, or rewire them. Thus the cost of repairing them is drastically reduced. Therefore the statements made by the Salford Council, concerning these cranes, has been somewhat overstated.
Alexander James Valliant wrote
at 18:33:30 on 21 October 2013
Thanks Mr. Concerned for your comments concerning our radio show, The Power Hour Show which is aired on LDOK.net. All of the members of our show are concerned about what the local council are planning to do with these cranes. I hope our listeners get together, and try to change the decision of the council. Best wishes from Radio Presenter of LDOK Radio show, Alexander James Valliant ;)
D Wright wrote
at 16:40:25 on 21 October 2013
Is Michael Felse joking|? I wouldn't vote for Paul Massey even if he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
Michael Felse wrote
at 11:04:18 on 21 October 2013
I have identified 12 wards in Salford that Labour would loose at the May local election, provided the "opposition groups" field only one name in each. In five years it will see the removal of the Old Guard Labour and hence exit of our Labour Mayor. Knock on will mean the demise of Labour MPs. If these unique Dock Cranes do come down I will put the action plan in place. Gives a few days for "Labour Councillors" to call an Emergency Meeting. Protect the Heritage. Every Labour Party member in Salford should phone their ward Councillors demanding they listen to the voices of common sense.
Michael Felse wrote
at 17:13:40 on 20 October 2013
Excellent summary from Alice. 'Salford Council' take corrective action today. I urge Paul Massey to stand in Ordsall May election (home ward of the docks) for us all to show the Council they will see their end in Salford if they do not protect heritage. A five year plan to remove the Labour Council will start at the downing of the Dock Cranes. I will willingly nominate Paul and support a strong campaign to protect Salford Heritage.
Alice Searle wrote
at 09:19:50 on 20 October 2013
I think it is a very sad day when the history of the working man and woman is trashed and replaced by an impersonal two dimensional piece of technology. Where is the imagination, the sensitive awareness and the appreciation of the efforts and achievements of those who worked on the docks. A tangible machine can be a symbol of those achievements. It should remain as a raw and truthful reminder of a time when these docks had a purpose from which the whole economy gained. To replace these cranes with a fleeting picture on a phone is an insult to history.
at 17:41:51 on 19 October 2013
Contemptible. 3000 days until we can trash Mayor Rent-a-Gob . Counting .....
James Walsh wrote
at 10:14:17 on 19 October 2013
In another ironic twist, in Mr Stewarts native Scotland, a Glasgow crane, all that remains of the Glasgow shipbuilding industry, has just joined the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Harbour Bridge as a world engineering landmark http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/glasgow-titan-crane-joins-eiffel-tower-with-award-1-3053533
James Walsh wrote
at 10:13:37 on 19 October 2013
In response to Sally Brown, I'm not a politician (in the conventional sense :), I don't have a career as a politician, unless you count once winning a Student Union election :) I'm just a very concerned citizen who has a very strong connection to the city of Salford I'm perfectly happy to work with any interested parties that work in the positive interests of the city of Salford, and it's people I honestly believe that EVERYONE in Salford can benefit from restored and refurbished cranes, that includes the Council and Peel, I think big business, local business and local people can all benefit This article shows the benefits to a city of preserved heritage, I would love to see the projected financial figures for how much this crane in Glasgow is forecast to make the city of Glasgow in tourism revenue, etc in the future http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/glasgow-titan-crane-joins-eiffel-tower-with-award-1-3053533
bob wrote
at 17:01:41 on 18 October 2013
Well maybe some demo the night before or on the day ?
Lancashire Lad wrote
at 17:01:34 on 18 October 2013
last year the Labour politician David Owen published a book called "The Hubris Syndrome" in which he commented upon the personality changes that occured when a person is elevated to high public office. The person becomes arrogant, bullying, unable to tolerate any opinion differing from his own. Owen gave the example's of Tony Blair and George Bush. He put the problem down to the fact that the politician surrounds himself with sycophantic yes men and doesn't have to deal me every day irritations. He is whisked around in chauffer driven cars further detaching him from reality. Any politician who wants to remove these iconic crane's from the Salford landscape and replace them with an "App" has to be well into the Hubris Syndrome. The only cure for this condition is for the politician concerned to be removed from office. It is painful for the individual but not I might add to the politicien's master, the electorate!!! So come election time I urge you to consider Mayor Stewart's long term health and remove the burden of office from his shoulders. Perhaps the soon to be Mr Stewart should take himself off either on foot or by public transport, at the twilight and look at those crane's and try to imagine them as one of the last remnants of Salford Docks and ask himself (not one of his bag carriers!)if what he is experiencing can be replaced with an "App."
Sally Brown wrote
at 14:12:32 on 18 October 2013
Brave words by James Walsh, who will probably see his political career end right now and be eliminated by the Mayor
Michael Felse wrote
at 14:10:57 on 18 October 2013
I do agree with this excellent letter from Labour Party member James. He clearly is very passionate about the important heritage of Salford. Pity his view is not shared by the leading Labour Party members, especially the 51 local Labour Salford Councillors that could just call an Emergency Council Meeting and stave off the execution of Salford's Heritage. If Labour is not able to listen to even its own members then Salford's future is doomed and we voters must take blame for creating a circus of brains at the Labour Ostrich Farm. Our elected Councillors, Mayor and MPs need to get off their comfy bums and get this reversed. Find options to Salford's unique Dock Cranes being culled. Mr Mayor please be warned, your own voters will not forgive this heritage attack.
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