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The area around the Salford Quays at the eastern end of the Manchester Ship Canal is a great example of what can be achieved by urban regeneration. Sleek low-rise blocks of flats line the waterways linking the docks. High-rise blocks overlook the docks themselves. Recently, the BBC has relocated many of its services to the Media City UK at Salford; not to be outdone Granada has moved in just across the water, close to the Imperial War Museum (North) – known as IWM (North) – designed by Daniel Libeskind. Five minutes walk away is the Lowry Centre a thriving arts and culture hub. Opposite the centre is a discount shopping mall with something for everyone. From here Manchester United’s home ground, Old Trafford, can be seen on the near horizon about ten minutes away by foot. Watersport’s enthusiasts practice their art surrounded by preserved reminders of the docks’ history such as cranes, rail lines, mooring posts, and anchor chains.
The Metrolink tram passes through the area and the journey to central Manchester takes about ten minutes. IWM (North) has welcomed over three million visitors since it first opened on July 5th, 2002. Like all National Museums in the UK, it is free to all visitors. Unlike most museums, however, the visitor should first have a good look at the outside of the museum and understand the inspiration behind the design. The IWM (North) was the first UK building to be designed by the American architect Daniel Libeskind. The building is clad in aluminium and the design is based on the concept of a world shattered by conflict into three interlocking shards, which represent war on land, water, and in the air. The most recent exhibit is Baghdad, 5 March 2007 by the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller. It is a car destroyed in the bombing of the historic Al-Mutanabbi street book market in Baghdad on March 5th, 2007. This attack killed 38 people and wounded many more. It was seen by many as an attempt to undermine Baghdad’s cultural life and no one has ever claimed responsibility. The car sits in the Main Exhibition Space next to a 7-metre piece of steel recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Centre. Nearby
I watched an amazing information film about what ordinary families should do in the event of a nuclear war. The film was made during my life time and seemed to assume that radiation couldn’t penetrate the house. The family should live behind doors propped against a sturdy wall for around 10 days until the fallout had subsided. The family should only come out from behind the doors unless it was absolutely necessary. Their water supplies and all their food were to remain behind the doors too.
Over the water from the Imperial War Museum is the Lowry Centre with its cafes, bars, theatres, and art gallery that includes a permanent collection of the paintings, drawings, and pastels of LS Lowry. Not only are his classic industrial scenes depicted but also the less familiar seascapes, landscapes and portraits. A selection of works, Lowry Favourites, is permanently on display in the Galleries and admission is free. However, visitors should consider a donation towards the upkeep of the collection. The three theatres, The Lyric, The Quays, and The Studio are in regular use for touring productions and individual performers such as comedians, musicians, and famous people in conversation with an interviewer.
Should you have not brought enough clothes on your travels, the Lowry Outlet Mall could be a great place to buy a few replacements. Well known manufacturers such as Austin Reed, Gap, Cotton Traders, and Marks & Spencer are well represented. There are also homeware shops, children’s stores, jewellers, footwear sellers, and accessory stores as well as a Cadbury’s store and numerous cafes and restaurants. From the mall it’s a brisk seven-minute walk past preserved mooring posts to the Salford Quays Metrolink stop. Five stops later I was in the centre of Manchester with easy access to the G-Mex centre, Bridgewater Hall, and the Royal Exchange Theatre.