Salford Central railway station is offering commuters the chance to journey back in time.
The foyer, which fronts onto New Bailey Street, has been turned into a new gallery to showcase a new exhibition about Salford’s archaeology through the ages.
The idea came from City Mayor Paul Dennett after visiting the nearby Gore Street excavation being undertaken by the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service.
The Gore Street and Bolton Street area was developed for housing, shops and a brewery in the late 18th century as Salford expanded and the New Bailey prison was built in 1790. More back to back housing, shops, small industrial buildings and yards were added in the 19th century with a brewer living at number 16 Bolton Street and a temperance coffee house at number 15. The Victorian railway viaduct built in Gore Street in still stands but the rest of the area was cleared between the 1960’s and 1980s.
City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “I found the site visit fascinating and thought the train station would be the perfect venue to showcase the amazing work being done by the GM Archaeological Advisory Service in uncovering, interpreting and bringing back to life our history and heritage.
“I’m very grateful to Network Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester for making this exhibition happen and hope people will enjoy seeing an exhibition in a more unusual venue.”
The exhibition starts with the first hunter-gatherers to settle in the Salford area 8,000 years ago and travels through the development of farming, the Iron Age and the Roman occupation to the medieval development of Salford town at the ford across the River Irwell.
It continues through the industrial revolution and growth of the city’s canals, mills, working class and middle class housing, Worsley New Hall where the new RHS Garden Bridgewater is being created and the changes the railways brought to the fast growing city.
Dr Mike Nevell, Head of Archaeology at the University of Salford, said: “The exhibition presents a decade of fascinating archaeological research in Salford, much of which was conducted through Centre of Applied Archaeology at the University of Salford working with local businesses and construction firms. Our students have played an active role in excavating some of the sites on display, at Chapel Street and the New Bailey Prison for instance, so it’s great to see our work being showcased to the public.”
Cat Dowell, Rail Project Interface Manager from Transport for Greater Manchester said: “I am delighted with the final outcome of the exhibition.
“A lot of work has gone into bringing these displays to life and using our public spaces in this way helps to shape our local areas, capturing the heritage and history and showcasing it in a really accessible way.”
The exhibition is free and can be visited during station opening hours.