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Campaign begins to restore the forgotten canal and halt the destruction of Salford’s heritage

Salford's industrial heritage hangs in the balance as the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society leads a fervent campaign against H2O Urban's plans to demolish a historic canal parapet wall on Oldfield Road.

Salford’s rich industrial heritage faces a critical juncture as the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society (MBBCS) rallies residents to join the fight against the potential destruction of a historic canal parapet wall on Oldfield Road.

The MBBCS is launching a campaign to not only preserve the forgotten canal but also thwart the proposed development by H2O Urban, a partnership between the Canal and River Trust and property development company bloc.

The development plans include constructing 205 apartments on a site between Upper Wharf Street and Oldfield Road, putting Salford’s industrial legacy at risk.

Preserving Heritage: The Oldfield Road Parapet Wall

At the heart of the preservation battle stands an unassuming wall on Oldfield Road, constructed with blue engineering brick in 1894.

This seemingly ordinary structure is, in fact, a key element of Salford’s industrial canal heritage.

The MBBCS emphasises the wall’s historical significance as one of the last surviving artefacts, intimately connected with the lives and works of influential figures like Engels, LS Lowry, and Ewan MacColl, who famously “dreamed a dream by the old canal.”

Development Threat: H2O Urban’s Plans

“Before” view from the planning application

H2O Urban’s proposed development, aiming to construct 205 apartments, poses a significant threat to Salford’s canal heritage according to MBBCS.

The company, a collaboration between the Canal and River Trust and bloc, plans to demolish the heritage canal parapet wall on Oldfield Road.

Additionally, the landscaping proposals include the relocation of canalside coping stones and the insertion of a footpath in place of the canal’s waterway.


Al Franco, a Trustee of the MBBCS, expressed concern over the unnecessary removal of the wall, emphasising that it merely enhances the visibility of the apartments without contributing to the construction process.

Franco pointed out that the removal of the wall impedes the potential for canal restoration, removing a vital safety feature essential for reinstatement when the canal is reintroduced to water.

Call to Action: Residents Urged to Speak Up

Franco urged residents to actively participate in preserving Salford’s heritage by commenting on the planning application. The MBBCS emphasises that public input is crucial in influencing the decision-making process.

Residents can voice their concerns by visiting the planning application’s official page using by clicking here.

Alternatively, they can email their comments to [email protected], quoting reference 23/82372/FUL.

Engaging Local Representatives

To strengthen the campaign, the MBBCS encourages residents to inform their local councillors and Members of Parliament about the imminent threat to Salford’s industrial heritage.

Engaging with local representatives can amplify the community’s voice and increase the chances of saving the canal from potential destruction.

Benefits of Canal Restoration

View from the 1950’s of the canal looking towards the Oldfield Road parapet

Franco highlighted the multifaceted benefits of restoring the canal, emphasising its potential to become a blue-green space for exercise and wellbeing.

A restored canal would also serve as a flood protection facility, a sustainable travel route, and an attractive wildlife-friendly landscape for the community to enjoy.

Salford’s industrial heritage stands at a crossroads, with the MBBCS leading the charge to preserve the forgotten canal and protect it from the encroaching threat of development.

Residents are urged to participate actively in the campaign, voicing their concerns through the provided channels. With public support and engagement, there is hope that Salford’s canal heritage can be safeguarded for future generations, ensuring a vibrant connection to the city’s rich industrial past.

About the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society

The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society was founded in 1987, with the aim of restoring the canal. It has had several successes, despite often difficult economic times. In the 1990s two bridges (one in Salford) were restored to full navigable dimensions.

In 2008 the first length of the canal at Middlewood in Salford was fully restored, including construction of a new deep lock allowing access from the River Irwell.

The Society built the unique Meccano Bridge in 2012 and then undertook ‘Big Digs’ to reveal the flight of six locks at Nob End.

The Society continues to work with Bolton, Bury and Salford Councils, as well as with the Canal & River Trust. In the past few years the towpath from Hall Lane to Radcliffe has been resurfaced. The Canal Society is currently finalising a feasibility study with Bolton and Bury Councils and the Canal & River Trust to investigate reopening the canal to navigation from Little Lever to Bury.

The Canal Society has a clear vision which is to progressively restore the canal to fully navigable condition, and in doing so create blue-green spaces that aid wellbeing and environmental improvement.

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