Manchester and Salford is one metropolis – can you see the join?

Twin cities now joined at the hip - but has it always been this way?

Both the City of Manchester and the City of Salford are metropolitan boroughs of the same city region of Greater Manchester. Twin cities now joined at the hip – but has it always been this way?

Two cities built on manufacturing industry, cotton and engineering – if you’re not from around here, you’d be forgiven for thinking Manchester and Salford were one and the same… 

“We were here first,” is the Salfordians’ mantra. There was human activity on the Salford side of the Irwell in the New Stone Age. And in 1230, Salford was granted a charter as a free borough – before Manchester. 

Manchester eventually emerged as a major manufacturing centre during the industrial revolution, with Salford at the helm. When the industry dwindled over time, Manchester continued to rise, while the docks and Salford fell into decline. 

But since then, Salford has dusted itself off and reimagined itself as part of a city for the future – while still being proud of its original roots and graft.

Today, Manchester city centre has started to proudly embrace Salford as a broader part of city living – and they share the limelight equally.

Photo: Jon Super

Strategically located between the two cities is a new £1bn neighbourhood spanning 25 acres, Middlewood Locks where homes to rent by Get Living offer the best of both. The exciting buzz of city life, balanced beautifully with the peace and tranquillity that come from living canal-side.

“City centre living is now even better,” says Ian, a resident of Get Living’s neighbourhood New Maker Yards at Middlewood Locks, which is within a 15-minute walk from Salford Central train station, the Oldfield Road bus stop and Spinningfields. 

“New Maker Yards is set within the perfect area to live in, too. The new homes, with a Seven Bro7hers pub and other resident amenities handily onsite, are away from the noise and congestion of the city centre, but close enough and with enough transport links to get anywhere in Manchester within minutes.”

Let’s take a look back at the journey.

The regeneration of Salford

Salford was overshadowed by Manchester for about a century, and received city status well over 50 years afterwards. But in the last decade, the ‘dirty old town’ of Salford has shown Manchester the way in terms of regeneration.

Following the 1982 closure of the Port of Manchester – or Salford Docks, as it was known locally – Salford council acquired 220 acres of docklands from the Manchester Ship Canal Company using a derelict land grant, and rebranded the area as Salford Quays. 

By 1985, the redevelopment of the waterfront in conjunction with an earlier private-sector-funded refurbishment project on Regent Road was well underway.

The combined investment turned out to be a visionary success.

When did Manchester’s property boom start?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Irwell, Manchester’s political leaders were more focused on bringing down Margaret Thatcher’s government than selling up to private interests, no matter how run down council-owned property was or how little money there was to do anything about it.

Sir David Tripper, junior trade and industry minister at the time, said that Manchester – under the leadership of Graham Stringer – was constantly moaning that Salford was the recipient of government grants while Manchester got nothing.

In fact, it wasn’t until the end of the 1980s that Manchester began punching its weight, thanks to Stringer’s dramatic political U-turn, after which the city sought private sector partnerships with the passion of the recent convert.

Is Salford part of Manchester?

From that time on, the Manchester “brand” has proved more attractive to investors. Since then, you can’t look left or right without seeing a crane in the city centre.

But the Manchester-Salford divide certainly didn’t exist in the mind of former Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Lease – at least in economic terms. When asked if it was a blow to Manchester when the BBC relocated to MediaCityUK in Salford, he insisted it made no difference. Manchester, Salford and all the rest of the boroughs in the city region were part of the same entity, with the same goals.

Proof of this sense of unity and global appeal is when Manchester gave birth to the iconic city brand I Love MCR, conceived by civic pride following disturbances in both cities. The brand continues to champion community spirit and boost the economy across Greater Manchester.

“Not so long ago, I moved from Salford to Manchester,” says local Stephen. “The only difference I’ve noticed is the day on which my rubbish is collected and the colour of the recycling bins.”

Salford and Manchester are twin cities which merged physically and culturally years ago to become one metropolis, but which will remain forever separate – and not just by their councils. 

“One of the most curious anomalies of England,” as the historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner put it.

Where is the actual line between Manchester and Salford?

Take away the signs which tell you that you are now in Salford or Manchester and you’d be hard pushed to tell them apart.

Now, the redevelopment of Chapel Street, New Bailey and Greengate is turning the twin cities into one seamless metropolis. 

The first five star hotel in Greater Manchester, The Lowry Hotel, is on the Salford side of the river and the line is in the middle of the bridge which connects the hotel to the City of Manchester.

Why you should move to Salford

Today, with Covid effects aside, Manchester has a thriving service-based economy while Salford has been regenerated and rebranded as a hub for both business and leisure, including forward-looking media companies in MediaCityUK; new office buildings such as the Digital World Centre; innovative arts and culture at The Lowry; and waterfront homes and leisure amenities.

What’s more, the Metrolink tram line connects Salford Quays and MediaCity to Manchester city centre and beyond.

Modern-day Salford is probably most proud of the BBC. When the BBC closed the Television Centre in West London, it moved its studios from the capital to MediaCityUK.

Salford is now, too, most definitely on the up, and the join between the two cities is becoming even harder to detect. Just take a walk down buzzing Chapel Street…

Is living in Salford part of Manchester city centre?

Manchester and Salford are twin cities sharing the same city centre: Manchester city centre.

Manchester city centre is always expanding, and in all ways. You’d be forgiven for describing a place on Chapel Street in Salford as in Manchester city centre, just as you would be for describing a place in Ancoats as in Manchester city centre. 

Growing neighbourhood Middlewood Locks, by the canal basin on the old Salford-Manchester border, offers the best of modern city living.

“Middlewood Locks is officially in Salford, but you’re a stone’s throw away from Manchester city centre, meaning you get the best of both cities,” says resident Ian.

The best place to live between Manchester and Salford

Photo: Jon Super

“You’re guaranteed much more of a close-knit neighbourhood community than many of the soulless tower blocks taking up space in the city centre,” continues Ian.

“It’s [Salford] the perfect area to live in. Away from the noise and congestion of the city centre, but close enough and with enough transport links to get anywhere in Manchester within minutes. 

“It’s a bit cheaper to live, too. Prices start from £940 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, instead of £1,200 per month for the equivalent size in Ancoats, for example. Plus, council tax is a good few hundred quid a year less, too.

“Anyway,” he continued, “the view is better from the Salford side. Especially from a balcony at New Maker Yards…”

So there you have it. Manchester and Salford may have their own unique story, but they share the same unique sense of civic pride and resilience

In any case, the people of Greater Manchester are cut from the same cloth (cotton) – and the common thread we have is love.

You can rent a modern 1-3 bedroom home with multiple layouts and designs to choose from at New Maker Yards. Overlooking the beautiful canal, you’ll be able to enjoy your work-from-home day in a new co-working space exclusively for residents to enjoy. Ready to search for your new home at New Maker Yards and join the community? Just click here to find out more.


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Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Charity Foundation raises 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 what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. There’s a unique sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are making a real difference in the lives of others, especially those close to home.