Salford and Trafford Quays full of 'community spirit'

Salford Quays Salford Quays has a mix of business, retail, leisure and residential buildings

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When the Queen last visited Salford Quays in 2000, it was to open The Lowry, an arts venue that was the first real landmark of the redevelopment of the area.

Twelve years on, she has returned to cut the ribbon on MediaCityUK, the vast hub that incorporates the BBC's new northern home, the University of Salford and an array of other media companies.

Since 2000, much has changed on the Quays - not least the name, which has dropped the word Salford to show a wider vision that brings in the Trafford side of the old docks area too.

The striking Imperial War Museum North now shines on the bank opposite MediaCityUK, while next door to it, work is under way on the new Coronation Street set - another icon to add to the Quays' ranks.

What has also changed is the nature of the area - back at the turn of the century, few people called the Quays home; now, there is a "vibrant community", according to one resident.

'Chilled living'

Sixty-three-year-old Ray Hanks has been a resident of Salford Quays since 2002. He fell in love with the area after staying in hotels nearby while visiting to watch his beloved Manchester United.

The Quays

Salford Quays before redevelopment
  • Three years after docks closed in 1982, plans for a waterside development were revealed
  • The first residential developments opened in the late 80s and the first major venue - The Lowry - was completed in 2000
  • Salford Watersports Centre opened in 2001 and the Imperial War Museum North followed in 2002
  • The Peel Group's development, MediaCityUK, opened its first phase - housing the BBC, University of Salford, Peel studios and many other companies - in 2011

"It seemed like an undiscovered haven of chilled living - amazing facilities side by side with a tranquil environment, and just minutes from the centre of Manchester," he said.

"In the period since [I moved here], there was some concern that the increase in residential developments would bring too many people and spoil our fun but the opposite has been true.

"On a good summer's day, visitors are amazed at the café culture on the beautiful plaza.

"If it wasn't for the Salford accents, you could be anywhere in the world."

He said a community had grown within the area to the point that most residents found when walking round, it had become "impossible not to meet someone you know".

"Whilst nearly all the residents on the Quays have arrived in the past decade, there is definitely a community spirit," he said.

Mr Hanks, who is a member of his block's residents' association, said that had been underlined not just by "triathlons, fun runs and dozens of charity events", but in the way the community had come together to deal with more serious issues.

"A campaign to stop a rave venue being established brought together different residential groups under a unified banner," he said.

"Everyone worked together for a single purpose and succeeded."

'Unashamed to be proud'
Ray Hanks Mr Hanks: "If it wasn't for the Salford accents, you could be anywhere"

It is a long way from the Quays the Queen would have seen in 2000. Still in formulation, little of what now sits on the banks of the water had made it off the drawing board.

Mr Hanks said he and the community members he has spoken to are "genuinely chuffed" the monarch has returned for another look round.

"We're unashamed to be proud," he said.

"The Quays now hosts a digital hotbed of talent, both at the BBC and in the cluster of creative businesses who recently relocated here.

"The links with the rest of the world are as strong now as when the docks were at full pelt and, as a result, we're really well known in far flung places.

"Perversely, it's the rest of the UK which still appears to be unaware of where we are or why anyone would want to come here.

"But the BBC did, and now the Queen - it should at least start to make people think."

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