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Report - Victoria Arches - Manchester - March 2015



Paradox

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#1
Victoria Arches Manchester 2015

Visited with Bigjobs, Stranton and two non-members.

A while ago Stranton asked if we fancied a mooch around Manchester. After bumping in to him again at the Birmingham meet and still not having set a date we agreed we would go in the next couple of weeks.

So heading out on a what felt like an extremely chilly night we made our way to Manchester and somewhere I had heard a lot about but never thought I would actually go, Victoria Arches/Cathedral Steps.

Standing on the side of the River Irwell with numb fingers I did think that maybe stopping in with a hot chocolate was a much preferable idea, however it was too late for that and we were all system go and on our way in!

Once inside we spent a good while looking around and my photos certainly do not do it justice!

History (courtesy of Wiki)

The Victoria Arches are a series of bricked-up arches built in an embankment of the River Irwell in Manchester. They served as business premises, landing stages for Steam packet riverboats and as Second World War air-raid shelters. They were accessed from wooden staircases that descended from Victoria Street.

Regular flooding resulted in the closure of the steam-packet services in the early 20th century, and the arches were later used for general storage. Following the outbreak of the Second World War they were converted into air raid shelters. They are now bricked up and the staircases removed in the latter part of the 20th century.

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 Rivers Pollution Prevention Act 1876 was designed to solve such problems, although it was largely ineffective. However, it laid the groundwork for the more draconian legislation that followed.

The Manchester Ship Canal was opened in 1894, and by 1895 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 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 cobbled surfaces shown in some of the pictures on the Manchester City Council website show the same network of tunnels before their conversion to air raid shelters. The land covered by the arches included a street, which led at the west end to a wooden bridge over the River Irk. The old road was covered over in an improvement scheme that began in 1833.

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. Photographs taken in 1972 show the arches to be barred, 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.


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Then all that was left was to make our escape and head on home....................................................................

They didn't tell me I would have to do the walk of death to get out, it was my personal hell on earth! Big ups to Bigjobs for holding my hand and not minding me being big girls blouse! Oh and as for the pigeons, I frikken hate pigeons, flappy winged b@st@rds!
 

Ordnance

Moderator
Moderator
#5
Showing my age here as I visited the 'Conveyances' as a boy via the stairs in front of the Cathedral when they were still open to the public circa 1966/67, and the door to the arches was not (ahum) always locked or attendant present around lunchtime! The steps to the landing stage was still in place as late as 1972ish, but the entrance barred from the river. Not been back underground since, more the pity.
 

Paradox

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#6
Thanks for the comments folks, always much appreciated :D

The Kwan, yeah the orange spray paint was everywhere and utterly pointless! Whoever it was is obviously not a fan on 28DL judging from one particular piece of orange "handiwork". :wanker
 

ACID- REFLUX

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#8
Very nicely shot :)
Glad you all had fun & survived the ordeal. Sorry i had to bail out of the trip due to my shoulder issues :(
 

Choo Choo m8ty

Mr Reality Hacker
Regular User
#13
Damn nice love this place great pics also. And yea the orange paint looks fairly new cause wasn't there last time.
 

Choo Choo m8ty

Mr Reality Hacker
Regular User
#15
No lol the ming* one on the ladies toilet can't remember that one.
 

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