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Travel & Holidays in later life


Take a Mersey Ferries cruise along the Manchester Ship AanalDriving up the M5-M6 to the holiday regions of the Lakes, Yorkshire Dales and Scotland, you may feel the industrial northwest of Liverpool and Manchester is like a huge blob on the map. 

But here was the industrial powerhouse which led the world in transport, textiles, engineering and manufacturing throughout the 19th century. 

A dozen major organisations in the northwest have joined up to create thirty sightseeing Trails to celebrate that rich heritage.

You can look at Textile Inheritance and Fashion, or sample the Transport sector of waterways, canals and shipping. The Power industry is revealed through museums dedicated to engineering, manufacturing and coal. 

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All details of the Trails on www.industrial

Mersey Ferries cruise - phone 0151-330-1444 to book tickets or order online 

The Lowry, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ. Tel: 0870-787-5780.

More information:

Marketing Manchester, Carver's Warehouse
77 Dale Street
M1 2HG Tel: 0161-237-1010.

Salford Tourist Information Centre
The Lowry
Pier 8
Salford Quays
M50 3AZ

Tel: 0161 848 8601.


Liverpool City Centre Tourist Information, 08 Place 
L1 6DZ

Tel: 0151-233-2008  . 


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Typical is the group of Transport Trails, which includes the first totally artificial waterway of the industrial age - the Bridgewater Canal. 

Specially interesting is the Manchester Ship Canal Trail, starting from Liverpool, which can easily be combined with several other trails during a short break.

For instance, you can easily spend a day at Liverpool's Albert Dock, where five-storey Victorian warehouses were solidly built of iron, bricks and Scottish granite. 

Closed down and derelict in 1970, the complex has been totally restored to become one of Britain's most popular heritage attraction. There are boutiques and bars, restaurants, cafes and world- class museums. 

Merseyside Maritime Museum is Britain's second largest after Greenwich. Its five floors include galleries on the Slave Trade, which generated much of Liverpool's wealth until abolition in 1807. 

That's just one part of a Maritime Trail both sides of the Mersey, rich in historical interest. In fact, the Port of Liverpool is doing better now than ever before.. 

Between May and September, Mersey Ferries operates a six-hour cruise along the Manchester Ship Canal, from Pier Head in Liverpool to Salford Quays in Manchester - or vice versa. 

These operate mostly at weekends, and sometimes Wednesday-Thursday.

The 35-mile trip passes through great variety of scenery. At the end of the cruise, an included bus ride can return you to your starting point.

A lively commentary relates how earlier attempts were made to shorten the river journey, avoiding sandbanks and cutting out meanders. 

Opening the Canal in 1894 transformed Manchester into Britain's third largest port, giving access to ocean-going vessels. It's the world's eighth longest ship canal. 

Today, due to the decline of textile manufacture and the increased size of cargo ships that have become too long and wide for passage, the freight volume has dropped. But the canal still carries an annual eight million tonnes. Postwar the Salford Quays gradually became a derelict industrial and warehouse zone. The life of Salford was well documented by the spare-time artist J.S. Lowry who worked as a clerk and rent collector.

Picture courtesy of the Lowry GalleryHis style is easily recognised, with 'matchstick people' in the foreground, overlooked by the smoking factory chimneys of cotton mills. Today the grim smokestacks have disappeared. 

Instead, the Salford Quays have been utterly transformed into a unique waterfront focus for leisure. 

The centrepiece is The Lowry - a gallery where the artist's works are displayed in a superb modern building which forms part of the new cultural enclave built along the Salford wharves. 

The Lowry includes a range of galleries and restaurants, bars and cafes. Two theatres within the complex stage world-class ballet, opera and theatre, besides pop music and comedy. 

Obviously the main attraction of the Lowry Gallery are the artist's own works. But there are frequent temporary exhibitions. 

The new office style on the Salford QuaysTypical was a show with the theme of "A Day in the Sun". 

It included images of walking, rowing, camping, cycling, riding, picnics in the countryside, holidays on the beach, swimming and sunbathing at the lido.

The exhibition looked away from factory life, and focused on one of the most remarkable social changes of the 1930s - the 'discovery' of the English countryside through walking, camping and sport. 

That was when the Youth Hostels Association, the Ramblers Association and the Caravanning Club all began.

Today, leisure, tourism, sport and shopping are major industries. The broad open space at the Lowry entrance, called The Plaza, can hold an audience of 7,000 for open-air events.

Opposite is The Designer Outlet, offering a wide choice of famous shopping names at discount prices, nine ultra-modern cinemas, restaurants and a health and fitness centre.

Regeneration funds were also spent on cleaning up the dead, polluted waters of the Canal. Today, the enclosed basins of the Salford Quays are used by anglers, who try for roach, perch and carp. 

Across the Canal, Salford is linked to the cricket and football of Old Trafford by a gleaming footbridge which rises on towers each side so that ships can pass through. 

It offers great views of The Lowry on one side, and the Imperial War Museum North on the Trafford Wharf. 

Part of the Lowry complex - the restaurantThe startling design of the War Museum, sheathed in metal, represents a globe shattered into pieces to represent conflict on land, air and sea. 

Opened in 2002, the museum is the fifth element of London's Imperial War Museum. The display techniques are mind-boggling.  (Read more about Manchester by clicking on the link below). 

Where else to visit in the North West

CHESTER - going for Romans, shopping & bats

LANCASHIRE COAST - Turning the tide

LIVERPOOL- Beyond the Fab Four 

MANCHESTER - is more than United

"Books to read - click on cover pictures" or click on the links below

S.Lowry  - edited by Michael Leber and Judith Sandling - Read this account of the artist's career, admire the pictures of Salford's prewar industrial landscape and see the difference today.

Francis Frith's Around Manchester (Photographic Memories) - A nostalgic publication based on prints from the Frith archive of city views from Victorian and Edwardian times. 

Liverpool in the Age of the Tram - Nostalgia of Britain Series - Worth buying to get another view of the old-time seaport.

The Manchester Ship Canal: The Big Ditch  by Cyril Wood - A history of this transport link which goes back even to the Stone Age!

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