Day 2. Manchester – Museums and a visit to Salford Quays

After the previous day’s torrential rain, we opened the curtains to a dull but thankfully dry morning.  After going out for breakfast our first planned activity was a visit to the People’s History Museum in Spinningfields.  We’d booked a timed entry for 11.00 a.m, and arrived promptly to look around this, the national museum of democracy which tells the story about equality, social justice and co-operation.

Co-operative Society, People's History Museum, Manchester
A Co-operative Society display in the museum

Entrance to the museum is free and the museum is currently open from 10.00-4.00 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.  Exhibitions cover reformers, workers, voters and citizens charting people’s lives, their occupations and leisure interests.

Co-op display, People's History Museum. Manchester
Inside the Co-op exhibit

Displays include a Victorian Co-op where we learnt that the Co-operative movement started in Rochdale near Manchester in 1844.  It began with a few local people getting together to start a society with the principles of treating local people with respect and providing affordable food for all.

Clocking-in machine, People's History Museum, Manchester
The clocking-in machine in the museum

Other interesting things to see included impressive Trade Union banners which were proudly carried on marches, and a mahogany clocking in machine common in mills and factories for recording workers arrival and departure times.

The Ivy, Spinningfields, Manchester
Spinningfields, Manchester

Leaving the museum we strolled through the Spinningfields district which is often referred to as the Canary Wharf of Manchester with its gleaming office blocks, designer shops and restaurants all starting to come back to life.

Spinningfields, Manchester
Spinningfields, Manchester

Our stroll continued along Deansgate passing the former Great Northern Railway company’s goods warehouse.  This magnificent building was completed in 1898 and operated as a three way goods exchange station serving the railway, canal and road networks of Manchester.  In its day, it was considered to be one of the largest and most advanced warehouses in the country.  Thankfully it was saved from demolition and now acts as a leisure development housing restaurants, bars and a cinema.

Great Northern Railway Warehouse, Manchester
Great Northern Railway Warehouse, now a leisure complex

Just a short distance further and we had reached the Museum of Science & Industry which offers free admission and is currently open Wednesday-Sunday 10.00 – 5.00 p.m.  We had pre-booked a timed entry slot but noticed that they were also accepting walk-ins so you might be lucky if you decide on a spur of the moment visit.

Textiles Hall, Manchester Museum of Science & Industry
The Textiles Hall

This vast museum is undergoing major restoration work at present with large parts covered in scaffolding.  Closed to visitors are the Power Hall, the Air & Space Hall and the 1830 Warehouse so I will hopefully return next year to document a visit to these exhibition halls when they re-open.  Despite these closures there was still much to enjoy in the museum so we began our self-guided tour in the Textiles Gallery which showcases the city’s heritage interwoven with cotton.  Manchester was once the international centre of the world’s cotton industry and the city was dubbed ‘Cottonopolis’.

Spinning machines at the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry
One of the spinning machines in the Textiles Hall

On display are various spinning machines including the famous Spinning Jenny which was one of the key developments in the industrialisation of textile manufacture during the early days of the Industrial Revolution, as it started the factory system of cotton manufacture.  Several of my ancestors worked in Lancashire cotton mills operating these types of machines and although I’m sure they made the best of their lives it must have been hard and hazardous work for them to cope with on a daily basis.

1902 Rolls-Royce, Manchester Museum of Science & Industry
A 1902 Rolls-Royce in the museum

Continuing our tour of the exhibition halls we spotted a 1902 Rolls-Royce motor car.  This world renowned company started life in Manchester as the result of a partnership between Henry Royce who was an engineer and Charles Rolls, a motor car pioneer.

Media CityUK, Salford Quays, Manchester
MediaCityUK, Salford Quay

After trying out some of the interactive displays testing our scientific knowledge on density of materials we left the museum and caught a tram from Exchange Square to Salford Quays.  Weekend tram tickets covering the entire network cost just £6.80 and offer excellent value as they are valid from 6.00 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.  We equipped ourselves with these and then only had to wait a couple of minutes for an Eccles tram to arrive.  Salford Quays is located near the end of the Manchester Ship Canal and was previously the site of the city docks until their closure in 1982.  It’s now been transformed into a waterfront destination just 15 minutes by tram from the city centre.

Box on the Docks, Salford Quays, Manchester
Box on the Docks social distanced dining

The good news was that the sun had decided to put in an appearance making everywhere look so much more inviting.  Located near the MediaCityUK tram stop is Box on the Docks, a series of brightly coloured greenhouses and posh sheds spaced out on the lawns ideally positioned for socially distanced dining.

Media CityUK, Manchester
Media CityUK television studios

MediaCityUK is home to BBC North and ITV studios including the ever popular soap opera, Coronation Street whose fictional home Weatherfield is based on nearby Salford.  The BBC’s flagship children’s programme Blue Peter moved production from London to Manchester in 2011 where a new Blue Peter garden was developed.

Blue Peter Garden, Salford Quays, Manchester
Blue Peter Garden, Salford Quays,

The garden brought back nostalgic memories for me with its statue of Petra the dog, vegetable patch, pond and foot and hand prints of some of its earlier presenters.

Quayside, MediaCityUK, Manchester
Quayside MediaCityUK

The next place for us to check out was the Quayside MediaCityUK Outlet Mall so we spent awhile in there picking up a few bargains from the Gap and Marks & Spencer outlets.  We’d timed our visit well as it was approaching the time to cross the bridge to reach IWM North, part of the Imperial War Museum housed in a distinctive steel building.

Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
The Imperial War Museum North

This iconic building represents a globe torn apart by conflict and was designed by Daniel Libeskind.  Admission to this museum is free but at present it’s probably best to pre-book a timed entry slot to avoid disappointment.  

Interior of Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
Interior of Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

Touring the galleries is a moving experience as the powerful stories depict how war shapes lives, from reading a soldier’s last letter home to viewing a twisted piece of metal from New York City’s World Trade Centre – so sad but so real.

1957 East German Trabant in the IWMN
1957 East German Trabant on display

A temporary exhibition entitled ‘Aid Workers/ Ethics Under Fire was taking place which explained how aid agencies work, care and protect vulnerable people forced to flee their homes because of conflict.  We found this interesting as it explored the aid workers challenges from an insider perspective.

Aid Workers/ Ethics Under Fire exhibition, IWMN Manchester
Aid Workers/ Ethics Under Fire exhibition

The sun was still shining as we left the museum so we decided to make good use of our weekend tram ticket and take a ride out to the leafy suburb of Sale on the Altrincham line.  We had visited Sale previously and knew it would be a good place to enjoy a meal and to follow this with a walk along the Bridgewater canal.

King's Ransom pub, Sale, Manchester
The King’s Ransom pub in Sale

Steps leading down to the canal are located just across the road from the tram stop and by the bridge is the King’s Ransom pub offering a perfect waterside setting for alfresco dining.  After our meal, we strolled along the towpath in the direction of Brooklands, passing an assortment of houseboats and brightly coloured hire boats on our way.  After the previous day’s downpour it was an absolute delight to enjoy a canal side walk in the dappled early evening sunlight.

Bridgewater Canal, Sale, Manchester
Evening stroll along the canal bank in Sale

We returned to the city centre from Brooklands station and after such a fun but busy day it was good to remove our shoes and relax back in our hotel room.


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Manchester - Museums & Salford Quays



46 thoughts on “Day 2. Manchester – Museums and a visit to Salford Quays

  1. What an interesting tour of Manchester! I especially love the very contemporary architecture of the buildings and those museums look fascinating. And the Box on the Docks-what a fantastic way to encourage socializing during such a strange time. I hope you have a great week!-Meg

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Salford looks fascinating, especially love to visit the Imperial War Museum. Need to try and arrange a trip up there next year as so many museums and places to see. Loving your Manchester trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, lots of modern, futuristic buildings in Manchester! I would’ve never expected that. Look like you went on a blue-sky, beautiful day. Your posts on the city make me want to go up north someday! Thanks for sharing your adventures, Marion. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The old snd the new architecture sit nicely together in the city and everywhere looks so much nicer in the sunshine. Perhaps sometime you could fly into Manchester and take time to explore the area. Have a great week Rebecca and thanks for commenting. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, plenty of Manchester delights here. What a fine building the Great Northern Railway Warehouse is. Glad to see you had improved weather. I find myself getting a little more homesick these days as I approach one and a half years away from The UK. I’m sure a pint at The King’s Ransom would set me right.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Everywhere looks a lot nicer when the sun’s shining and Manchester is no exception. The city tram network is excellent making it quick and easy to explore the leafy suburbs. I’m sure you would have enjoyed a pint in the King’s Ransom in Sale, Leighton. Hope you have some cosy pubs near to you in Belgrade. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So much to see and do here, no matter the weather. Love the blend of old and new buildings. It is so nice when a city saves their heritage and then showcases or repurposes it. The canal walk is Sale looks lovely and so nice to have some dining choices with a view. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your ever welcome thoughts Allan. The re-purposed goods warehouse is a beautiful example of heritage architecture . Getting to the suburbs by tram is so quick and easy and there are numerous small towns worth visiting especially for canal walks and their waterside pubs. Best wishes, Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I always love your museum tours and this one is no exception! It was great to see the old spinning machines (and to read about the famous Spinning Jenny). And isn’t it great when an old building, like the Railway Warehouse, are kept and then used for modern day use … I’m so glad these buildings are not demolished because of the fact that it forms part of one’s history.
    Wonderful that you had a walk in sunshine next to the canal – it certainly looks so much more inviting than on a rainy day 😊.

    Liked by 3 people

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