The earliest mention of the Salford Hundred occurs in William the Conqueror’s great survey, the Domesday Book, made for in 1086. It was recorded that King Edward the Confessor had held the Manor, (or Hundred), in 1066 when it was mostly forest land, divided into 21 berewicks (or sub-manors) each held for the King by a thegn. William granted the land to Roger de Poitou who parcelled it out to his own followers. By 1086 the hundred was again in the King’s hands and was held intermittently by the monarch over the next three centuries. Roger de Poitou also created the (lesser) Manor of Manchester which has ever since been separate in matters of Local Government from Salford. To this day Salfordians proudly boast being the oldest of the two cities, and object volubly to being called “Mancunians”.
Local Government in Salford
The Salford Charter also granted the right to elect its own “Reeve” and to hold its own Law Courts (the “Laghemot”). This charter remained the basis of Salford’s local government until the Police Commissioners Act of 1791. During Tudor and Stuart times, Salford was assessed for taxation as a parish of Manchester and in 1655 paid the sum of �12-8s-1d (�12.40). By this time, the Manor of Salford included Broughton, Pendleton and Kersall – the latter being granted rights to a monastery, known as St Leonard’s Cell, which by 1660 had passed into the hands of the Byrom Family, and the celebrated John Byrom, who wrote the hymn “Christians Awake” .
Also, the fact that the administrative headquarters and centre of Salford local government is actually in nearby Swinton is locally very controversial, and the city centre of Salford is nowadays little more than a shadow of its former self, with most of its redevelopment having taken place out of town – in Salford Quays, or outlying districts like Swinton and Worsley.
Salford during the Civil Wars
Unlike Manchester, during the Civil War, Salford was Royalist. The siege of Manchester which started the Civil War was launched from Salford. Salford was also devoutly Jacobite and supported the Pretender to the Throne of England, Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), whom they hosted on his ride through the area in November of the 1745 Rebellion. Blessed by the Reverend John Clayton, a friend of John Wesley, he left for his campaign in the South, only to return defeated 9 days later. Two local men, Tom Syddall and Thomas Deacon, who had joined the Manchester Regiment to help Charles Stuart fight in the Rebellion, were captured and beheaded – their heads brought back and displayed on the Exchange in Manchester.
Salford in the 18th Century
By the early 18th century, contemporary maps show Salford as still largely rural, with the major road networks already in place. By 1750 the town was to change dramatically – possibly the most drastic transformation of any town in England, as factories (largely spinning, weaving, dyeing and bleaching) took over the fields, so that nowadays only their names survive to indicate where they were. Salford’s growth at this time was marked by some degree of industrialisation. Cloth was manufactured, silk weaving was done in the locality, as were dyeing, fulling, and bleaching. The population had reached 7,000 by the end of the 18th century. By the end of the 18th century the canals were in place – the Bridgewater from Worsley, and the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The River Irwell had been made navigable all the way to Liverpool.
Salford in the 19th Century
In the 19th century, the effects of the industrial revolution on Salford was phenomenal. Factories replaced homeworkers and the resident population, which was just 12000 in 1812, increased by 1840 to 70244, and by the end of the century to 220000. This rapid increase, probably the greatest in the whole of Britain, was reflected in the vast areas of poor quality housing that were built throughout the Victorian period when overcrowding created real social problems. Houses were crowded together at as many as 80 to the acre. Trade continued to boom, and with the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal and the docks at Salford, the city became an industrial meeting point for all major routes and was receiving raw materials for the whole north west of England, as well as being the main distribution point for manufactured goods being exported out. The fate of Salford during the Industrial Revolution was not an enviable one. Most of the worst effects and excesses of over-industrialisation and human exploitation were to be found there. It was not all quite so black – there were some real improvements made to the social and material fabric of late Victorian society. For Example, the first Public Libraries Act was introduced in 1850. Salford had, a year previously, already established a library, museum and art gallery, the first municipal authority in Great Britain to do so.
Since the 1960s, Salford has gradually restored itself of the grubby smoky town images of the post-war period. Today it boasts many delightful aspects, from the elegance of ancient Worsley, to the formal civic grandeur of the Crescent, where the Art Gallery and the University of Salford now stand. In the last decades, with the abandonment of the great docks, many acres of dock wasteland have been redeveloped as the Salford Quays project. Waterway frontages have been attractively revamped, trees planted, …. and attractive new waterside dwellings have been introduced into a hitherto undesirable area, making it now a much sought-after place to live, as well as having major new cultural developments like the Lowry and the Imperial War Museum.
Historic Places of Salford
Salford has a great history. Peel Park, now Salford Art Gallery, was owned by Sir Robert Peel, a local of Bury, Prime Minister and founder of the Metropolitan Police Force. Ordsall Hall, near Salford Quays, was once the home of Sir John Radclyffe, who was given the privilege by king Edward III of escorting his bride to be, the Belgian Princess Phillipa to England. Near MacDonalds (Fast food & hamburgers) in Acton Square stands the house of William Harvey, founder of the Vegetarian Society. Not far away stands Joule House, named after James Prescott Joule, the world famous 19th century physicist, who lived there for several years. In one of the houses on The Crescent lived Thomas Worthington, one of the great architects of the region. Nowadays Salford boasts some fifty public parks and gardens, and has at last thrown off its unfortunate image of the “Smoky Old Town”.