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Discover Salford - Cultural City

Visit Salford | Discover the city


Explore a rich and fascinating side of Salford lurking behind historical facades.

Eccles remained industry-free until well into the latter part of the 18th century, until Barton was transformed by the building, by the Duke of Bridgewater of the Bridgewater Canal. Used to transport coal from his mines at Worsley to the industrial areas of Manchester, the Bridgewater Canal was the forerunner of canal networks. In its heyday, the canal carried more than 3 million tonnes of traffic as it enabled the transport of goods to be achieved efficiently and cheaply to the expanding cities and towns.

At Barton the canal's engineer, James Brindley, constructed his famous aqueduct to carry the canal over the River Irwell, and the first barge loaded with coal used this engineering feat in 1761.

Yet another canal - the Manchester Ship Canal (opened in 1894) - was to have a great effect on the life of the area. In the earlier Victorian period, however, the railways came to and through Eccles. In 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was finally completed after great difficulties in crossing Chat Moss This line will always be remembered for the tragic opening-day accident when William Huskisson MP, was knocked down and taken to the Eccles Vicarage, where he later died.

Industrialisation of Eccles was first in the form of silk mills but later as the suitability of the Lancashire climate for spinning and making-up cotton was realised, some Eccles mills turned to this 'new' commodity. The cotton industry was hard hit by the cutting off of raw supplies during the American Civil War but Eccles escaped fairly lightly as, unlike some other Lancashire towns, it had various other industrial activities. In 1836, for instance. the famous Scottish engineer, James Nasmyth, inventor of the steam hammer, opened his ironworks at Patricroft, where a wide range of machine tools and locomotives were produced. Later, in 1873, the Protector Lamp and Lighting Co Ltd was formed and this company produced the very first motor-driven fire engine in England.

Eccles Ale Trail: Discover a host of pubs steeped in history and traditions and quench your thirst with a variety unusual ales.

Why not explore the authentic experience of a traditional pub, full of history and character. Why not download our map and to find out more.

Please note, that some pubs listed in our guide may have changed ownership, name or indeed may have ceased trading unfortunately. However the pubs still have a fascinating heritage to discover, even if they may have an uncertain future. Always check opening times in advance before setting out on the Ale Trail.

Eccles Churches

Eccles is also famous for its churches. The name of the town comes from the old Latin word for 'church'. It serves as an evidence that the church existed here around 600AD when the Anglo-Saxons arrived.

St Andrew's Church:

This church is a grade II* listed building built in 1879. It contains over 50 examples of Victorian decorative stonework and 16 beautiful stained glass windows, three of which are by famour Victorian stained glass window maker Charles Kempe.

Eccles Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin:

The medieval church of St Mary the Virgin is the most ancient building in Salford! Special features to look out for include an expansive medieval nave ceiling and south door, St Catherine's Chapel and historic tombs and memorial tablets. From its humble beginnings in 600 where a carved stone cross was built, later protected by the building of a sanctuary - a 'holy place' to twentieth century activities for community based projects, this church has been central to the history of Eccles. By 1150 onwards a real focus on developing provisions for the church began. As the population began to grow, so did the additions to the church building. Although no effort was made to maintain architectural consistency, it actually allows history to be followed more easily as each construction stage can be dated. The church has been a central place to focus on community and national issues such as the black plague, the first and second world wars and continues to be restored so that this special history can be celebrated all the time.

Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust Heritage Centre and Museum:

Step back in time in this glorious reproduction 1920s cinema complete with 1927 Wurlitzer organ and relive the golden days of silent movies. Explore the Hope-Jones museum of the theatre organ - dedicated to the inventor Robert Hope Jones and featuring some of his earliest organs dating back to 1894 - or enjoy on the regular lunchtime concerts held every Wednesday at 1.00pm. Eccles Ale Trail: Discover a host of pubs steeped in history and traditions and quench your thirst with a variety unusual ales.

Barton Aqueduct

One of Salford's most famous sites (and indeed sights), this unique landmark links the city with the neighbouring borough of Trafford.

The original Barton Aqueduct was built by James Brindley in 1761 to take the Duke of Bridgewater's canal across the River Irwell. The aim of the canal was to transport coal from the Duke's collieries at Worsley to Manchester, which lay about 10 miles away, to the east. Part of the scheme involved crossing the River Irwell and Brindley, who disliked the idea of locks, suggested building an aqueduct instead of locking down to the river and up the other side.

This early aqueduct was considered an engineering marvel of the industrial age, both in its ambition and execution of the design. The construction enabled the Bridgewater Canal to pass over the River Irwell, and continue its course into Manchester. Upon completion Barton Aqueduct became one of the wonders of the industrial age - with many visitors coming from all over the country to witness 'ships sailing over ships'. Many see the building of the Bridgewater Canal and Barton Aqueduct as the start of the transport revolution which acted as the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution which changed the shape of the world.

When the Manchester Ship Canal decided to use the course of the Irwell at Barton as part of their navigation channel it was necessary to demolish Brindley's aqueduct and replace it with a structure even more marvellous. The Barton Swing Aqueduct was designed by Edward Leader Williams and opened in 1893. The aqueduct swings open, full of water, to allow the passage of ships along the Manchester Ship Canal. The swinging span is 235 feet long and weighs 1,450 tons. Hydraulic rams are used to drive rubber seals into each end of the moveable tank.

Today it is still somewhat of a curiosity and attracts industrial historians from all over the world to marvel at its ingenuity and design. The close proximity of this engineering masterpiece and the contemporary swing bridge is unique. It is still a sight to see 'ships sailing over ships'.

See the Barton Aqueduct lit up from 14 December to 3 January to mark the end of the 250th anniversary of the Bridgewater Canal.

Eccles Cross

The Eccles Cross has been placed on the roundabout in 1951  and formerly stood at the bottom of Church Street. The cross was thought to have been remnants of a much older cross and was used as the bullbaiting post during Eccles Wakes fairs.





Barton Aqueduct

The World Record Eccles Cake

The Eccles Ale Trail

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