Down on the Quays this morning all was quiet by the blue cargo cranes – the demolition teams hadn't moved in yet, and the sun was even trying to shine through the black clouds that hovered over the iconic structures that are about to be torn down in the most public and symbolic flattening of Salford's community culture and heritage this century.
Taking one last glimpse of the cranes was an Ordsall dog walker, who called the Council's actions "a disgrace", and a few photographers trying to preserve some memories…
"I'm here today to photograph the cranes before they're removed and are not here for us to see any more" said Sarah Davies "My granddad was Frederick Bates and during the 1940s he sailed from here in the merchant navy. The family has close connections with this area and I believe that this is a bit of Salford's history which should be here for future generations.
"I think it's a crying shame that the identity of the area is being totally lost" she added "There's nothing here to signify the importance of this area to Salford and the Manchester area."
Salford photographer, Raymond Psaila, was also there capturing the scene before it's trashed*.
"I'm here to record the cranes before they are demolished which I think is an absolute crying shame in a historic city such as Salford" he said "It's an attraction, they shouldn't be taken down, they should be painted and renovated, they do no harm. When I read about it on the Salford Star I was gobsmacked, dumfounded."
This week, in answer to questions about the crane trashing, Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart tweeted coldly "We haven't got £1million to make cranes safe and restore them. nobrainer#"
In fact, the £1million is a red herring. Salford Council's own reports show that it had a quote of £648,500 to refurbish the cranes, and had £626,000 in its funds, from way before the cuts, ringfenced, to refurbish them. This would have left a shortfall of just £25,000 plus maintenance costs, which the Council stated would be £8,000 a year (see here).
Even apart from this, almost £6million of public money has been spent on mostly crap `community engagement' and `heritage' projects around the Quays and MediaCityUK, as revealed by the Salford Star two years ago (see here).
There was a £3.3million Goldsmiths College-led joint project called FIRM - Framework for Innovation and Research in MediaCityUK - which aimed to "investigate the social impact of MediaCityUK". One of its themes was "The novelty of the child-like mimetic question 'What is Media City like?'"
FIRM was also involved, with the University of Salford, in `Port to Portal' - "the development of an online digital archive…around the main narrative strand telling the story of the area's journey from a world-leading Port to a Portal into the digital age".
This echoed another project, The Lowry's £464,400 Unlocking The Quays project which "aimed at improving interpretation and increasing access to the history of Salford Quays", charting the area's history from, er, port to MediaCityUK portal.
Also funded was the £407,000 New Mornings Old Streets project, again involving Salford University, which was "throwing a spotlight on The MediaCityUK Development, its impacts and opportunities for local people and communities".
Add to these the pathetically failed MediaCityUK Public Sector Partners Programme, costing almost £1.5million which mainly fed consultants and managers, and the Council's £161,000 funding for `community engagement strategy' projects which, kind of, disappeared, and it adds up to almost £6million, with very little to show for it - apart from some nouveau docks sculptures dotted around the Quays, while the original heritage is being torn down.
Not so much #nobrainer, Mr Mayor, as `no brains' and `the imagination of a tennis racket'.
The latest hair-brained scheme is to take between £50,000 and £100,000 of the ringfenced funding the Council set aside for the cranes' refurbishment and put it towards a £150,000 mobile phone app `heritage interpretation project', thrilling visitors to Salford Quays with "text and visual images to show the past/ present /potential future of the area, providing prompts to highlight landmarks, key buildings etc" (see here).
Had the Mayor bothered to visit the cranes, he would see that there's already a similar thing there – a QR code stuck on the railings `created by Tales of Things for Salford City Council'. You scan it with your mobile phone and it brings up a photo of the cranes with the text "They are a striking feature, towering over Ontario Basin…many people choose to stop here and admire the view"…
The digital interpretation, even with the cranes next to it, has been so popular that it's had no Facebook `likes' and no Twitter re-tweets, showing the potential appetite for the £150,000 app.
But the ultimate slap in the face for Salford people's heritage comes courtesy of an organisation which receives public funding, called Quays Culture. While the cranes are being demolished tomorrow, it's holding a day of `Quays Culture'…
The bash at MediaCityUK and The Lowry features a Question and Answer session with Quays Culture resident artist John O'Shea, who's been going on about the history of the docks, and who will be discussing his project, The Other Forecast, which "supports research to rapidly realise the transformational impact of digital technologies on aspects of community life, cultural experiences, future society, and the economy."…
Perhaps if he steps outside he'll see that the `transformational impact' is to wipe out `aspects of community life and cultural experiences'.
Also appearing is former Hue and Cry founder, Pat Kane, who will be talking at the University of Salford's MediaCityUK campus about 'Radical Animal: Play, Ecology, Human Nature'… He is another one who needs to step outside. The blurb says he will outline "how he sees consumer capitalism exploit our evolved appetites for novelty, form and the recombination of elements…"
Replacing real heritage with apps and art circuses surely is `exploiting our evolved appetites for novelty, form and the recombination of elements'.
The Salford Star dares Mr Kane to visit the crane heritage trashing and sing Labour of Love… "I don't need your tricks and treats/ I don't need your ministration, your bad determination/ I've had enough of you, and your super-bad crew…"
Meanwhile, Quays Culture states that "We are inspired by The Quays as a dynamic place where the public, culture, media, business and the aquatic interact on a local and global platform"…after the weekend they will be `interacting' on their own, as the iconic Salford Quays blue cargo cranes will be in the scrap yard, courtesy of our very own Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart.
We do hope the Mayor will be attending the Quays Culture screening of Water Fools…
Saturday 26th October: Quays Culture Open Day - or Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th October a free show: `Come and See Your Heritage Trashed' all day - near what's left of the Salford Quays Cargo Cranes Ontario Basin
* Raymond's photos of the last day of the Salford Cranes can be seen by clicking here
Update: 27th October 2013 - Salford Quays Cranes Trashed in £100,000 Execution - click here
See also previous Salford Star articles on the cranes...
Nigel Pivaro Says Stop The Cranes Demolition - click here
Salford Quays Cranes To Be Demolished - click here