Report - - Victoria Arches and the Premier Inn - Manchester - January 2013 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Victoria Arches and the Premier Inn - Manchester - January 2013

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Victoria Arches and the Premier Inn – Manchester


The Victoria Arches were a series of arches built in the embankment of the River Irwell in Manchester, and served as business premises, landing stages for Steam packet riverboats and as World War II air-raid shelters. The arches were built to create new industrial space, during construction of a new embankment along the River Irwell, built to support a new road. The embankment was completed in 1838. In 1852 the life-boat Challenger was built and launched from the Arches.

Victorian-era passenger trips along the Irwell were very popular, despite increasing levels of river pollution; in 1860 the Irwell was described as "almost proverbial for the foulness of its waters; receiving the refuse of cotton factories, coal mines, print works, bleach works, dye works, chemical works, paper works, almost every kind of industry."

The Ship Canal Company, who encouraged passenger traffic, had opened at least one landing stage. Two of its steamers, Shandon and Eagle, are known to have used the landing stages. These boats could carry 900 and 1,100 passengers respectively. During the first half of 1897 more than 200,000 passengers were carried on trips around Manchester Docks, with holiday seasons the most popular periods. Competition for passengers was fierce, with at least two landing stages being operated by different companies. The ferries would occasionally carry musicians, for passenger entertainment. The landing stages however suffered problems with flooding of the Irwell and do not appear to have remained in business for long, being closed in 1906.

During the Second World War the arches and tunnels surrounding them were converted into air-raid shelters. The conversion took three months and with additional brick blast walls added, cost £10,150, providing shelter for 1,619 people. The steps and landing stages have been closed to the public for many years. In 1935 less elaborate steps were in place, some of which remained until 1971. In photographs taken in 1972, the arches are barred, and some are covered with metal grilles. As of 2009, none of the steps remain, and the original Victorian railings along the embankment have been replaced with a stone wall and new railings.

A lot of work was undertaken to the area from 2010 to early 2012, resulting in the access being a lot easier to the Arches and many people visiting them, this has changed and the access now adds to the explore as well as the site being a lot less frequented.

My Visit

(Visited with Ojay, Camera Shy, Reddood, plus 3 others (sorry lads forgot your names)

The plan was to meet up with Ojay, Camera Shy, Reddood and spend a few hours in the Arches, the plan was however delayed due to some workmen in the area. While sitting it out we noticed 3 lads turn up and head over to the access point, it soon became apparent that they had the same idea as us, but hadn’t seen the workmen! After a quick wander over the lads retreated to join us, we decided to team up head in together.

Before setting off Ojay warned me about some open void to look out for, I obviously forgot this as one of the first things I did on reaching my sanctuary was find it for myself! Showering Ojay with a cloud of pigeon shit, the rest of the trip went smoothly after that and we all got in and out safely.

I seemed to spend more time wandering around and looking, rather than taking photos I only found out after leaving, so here they are. I won’t pretend to know which arch is which, the sequence just being the way I wandered around the site.












After exiting the Arches we decided to have a look at another local venue, unfortunately it wasn’t the clearest view from the top of the Premier Inn, but think the mist adds to the atmosphere?




All in all it was a grand night out, good to meet some new faces and see some new sites. It was only when I got home did it sink in how lucky I was not to have gone all the way though the void, a quick beer soon settled me down.

Well that’s it, realizing I didn’t take that many photos seems to point at having another adventure in the Arches at some point.




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