New socially distanced Salford dining experience will combine food with art


A new dining and arts experience is coming to MediaCityUK this summer, supporting both the local hospitality businesses and self-employed creatives.

Launching at the end of July, Box on the Docks will consist of approximately 30 ‘boxes’ – taking the form of deluxe sheds and greenhouses – to be placed outside the restaurants and cafes at MediaCityUK.

It’s a collaboration between MediaCityUK and award-winning agency HemingwayDesign, and will offer external, self-contained dining pods that allow MediaCity’s community of residents, workers and visitors to return to their favourite restaurants and bars in a safe, secure and welcoming environment, whilst ensuring social distancing guidelines are met.

Participating restaurants include The Dockyard, known for their craft ale and artisan pies, popular cocktail bar The Alchemist, plant-based eatery Vertigo, which is due to open its second branch at MediaCityUK imminently, and award-winning coffee specialists Grindsmith.

A second phase of participants is due to be announced later this month.

For those that just want a casual drink, coffee, or to get ice cream with the kids, there’ll also be additional outdoor distanced seating with views of the waterfront.

With support from the Salford Culture and Place Partnership, Box on the Docks have sent out 15 artists commissions to decorate the ‘boxes’ to organisations including Islington Mill, Paradise Works, Hot Bed Press and Quays Culture, as well as offered opportunities to Salford students and early career artists who are graduates of Salford University School of Art.

Designs submitted so far include everything from neon light installations and murals, to sound projections and poetry.

“We pride ourselves on the quality of our public spaces at MediaCityUK, providing a safe and welcoming environment for all,” says Stephen Wild, Managing Director at MediaCityUK.

“We know the hospitality and creative industries have been among the hardest hit by the impact of Covid-19, and Box on the Docks is our way of helping them back on their feet.

“Box on the Docks is the first in a series of initiatives, which will see us partnering with our key occupiers and the wider cultural community to deliver exciting outdoor activities during these uniquely challenging times.”

The hospitality and creative industries have been amongst the hardest hit from the impacts of Covid-19, says Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford, with Greater Manchester’s visitor economy worth £2.6bn GVA per year, supporting 105,000 jobs, and our creative industries worth £4.4bn GVA per year, supporting 78,500 jobs in the city-region.

“It’s critical we do all we can to support these important sectors, this is why innovative and creative projects such as Box on the Docks which offer a safe framework to help our local restaurants and independent creatives get back on their feet are so important,” he says.

“At HemingwayDesign we are “glass half full” and after all these months of lockdown we are keen to emerge having fun (safely of course!) and support both local creative practitioners as well as the cafés and restaurants who have been shut down for all these months,” says Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of HemingwayDesign.

“Box on the Docks delivers on all these and gives people a welcome dash of serendipity.”

As people start to safely spend more time outside, Box on the Docks will hopefully offer a new cultural destination “with the boxes becoming an al fresco gallery to explore the work of Salford-based artists whilst enjoying the green space and canal views at MediaCityUK,” says MediaCityUK’s Josie Cahill. 

“We’re looking forward to seeing the commissions installed and welcoming visitors safely back to MediaCityUK.” 

Box on the Docks will run from the end of July 2020. For more information and to be amongst the first to book a table, follow @boxonthedocks on social or find out more at

Get the Newsletter
Timeless Reads

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience.

Latest News
Upcoming Events