Report - - Victoria Arches - Manchester - October 2013 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Victoria Arches - Manchester - October 2013

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Victoria Arches – 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, Squirrell911 and Ann Nother)

Since the tourist access closed this place has seemed to have dropped off the radar for a bit, I first visited here at the start of the year after the masses were sealed out again. That evening was a good social visit and general stroll around the Arches, when getting home I realised I hadn’t taken that many photos and vowed to revisit The Arches again.

Even after a few hours in here this time I’m surprised with coming out again without too many photos, think that was mainly trying not to duplicate the ones I taken previously. So on with the photos.

I do like these toilets, and I don’t say that often!





A few photos from the different Arches, unfortunately it was very humid at the downstream end and my lens just kept on misting up.




Looking down on what was the Medical Post.


And then the final 3 set of Arches.




It was a grand way to spend a few hours away from the maddening crowds of Manchester, and well worth the effort.



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