Star date: 25th May 2018


A demolition team has moved onto the site of Salford's iconic gasworks on Liverpool Street, made world famous by Ewan MacColl's Dirty Old Town anthem.

Ewan MacColl's wife and songwriting partner, Peggy Seeger, slated the 'land grabbing' move and proposed an alternative use that could be "somewhere unlike anywhere in the world" when news first broke of the demolition last year. This has been ignored  and now another slice of Salford's dwindling heritage is set to disappear...

Full details here...

Dirty Old Town Gasworks Demolition Begins in Salford Dirty Old Town Gasworks Demolition Begins in Salford Dirty Old Town Gasworks Demolition Begins in Salford
click image to enlarge

After the Salford Quays cranes, the Salford Mission and the Black Horse pub, another iconic Salford landmark is set to disappear, with demolition starting on the two huge gas holders on Liverpool Street, made forever famous in Ewan MacColl's anthem Dirty Old Town...'I found my love by the gasworks croft...'

The decision to allow demolition of the locally listed gasworks by the National Grid was made under delegated powers by Salford City Council officers last year. At the time, Ewan MacColl's wife and songwriting partner, Peggy Seeger, proposed a unique alternative use for the gas holders, while slating the 'land grabbers' who want to profit from the strategic site...

"The gasworks skeleton, rusty or not, is magnificent" she said "If we didn't live in a land-grabbing commercial system, the gasworks scaffolding could have been strengthened and turned into latticework for climbing plants.

"The internal spaces could hold a maze, a secret garden, a cafe, trees…fountains… secret spaces to discover...somewhere unlike anywhere in the world" she added "Good for the environment and Salford's fresh air, and a magic place for children of any age..."*

Unfortunately, Salford Council, which has the imagination of a tennis racket, instead decided to preserve and 'celebrate' the gasworks wall – which, Peggy confirmed to the Star, was never in the original lyrics and was never sung by herself and Ewan MacColl.

It's going to be a slow death for the iconic structures, as the whole demolition job could take up to a year...

* See also previous Salford Star article on the gasworks demolition – click here

at 19:24:11 on 17 August 2018
Maybe the gasworks could have been saved and put into a Salford theme park or a living "Life and Death in Salford" museum. They could have had the gas works,Hope hospital maternity unit the cranes from the docks, the mining museum, terraced houses, the old dole office and maybe a pub or two. Salfordians could be employed here to act out Old Salford scenes such as actually being born in Salford, working in a proper manufacturing job, queing round the yard at the doles office and getting drunk in a pub (Salford used to be known as having the most pubs per head of population in the country). The show could include the Sunday pub lunch and gangsters bursting in with guns and shooting people. This could all be done for the benefit of theNew Salfordians. Just think of the money they could bring into city!
Killing Salford wrote
at 08:09:39 on 12 August 2018
It saddens me to see another part of this magnificent and unique city being killed off. The council are so quick to get rid of its history. Even the so called ‘salboy’ ripped down an iconic pub rather than figure it in his grand plans for making money. The transport and general workers building was another peace of Salford ripped down for money. KEEP SALFORD ALIVE ! Shedman
Bob the regular wrote
at 21:31:54 on 02 June 2018
"Construction News" magazine 9th april 2018. Loads of bullshit about London gasholders. Like I guessed, they like that sort of thing down there. These people spent a fortune. They stripped them down and refurbed them, then moved them to a new siting. With ours they could have been done in situ. Even today ,we have enough steel people to sort the steel out ,blast it, and metal spray it with zinc, within Salford itself, not Greater Salford. coarse yer actual bloody lundanner, he darnt no wat is doing. its there puckin mare,heees the pucking problem, not like yer bloody northern mare. Yer northern mare see,he brings progress to his bloody people. Am garn darn the pub.
Bob the regular wrote
at 15:42:01 on 02 June 2018
Just think of the wonderful view the new residents will get. The Quays ,MUFC, the Beetham Tower, Mcr city centre, EMR scrapyard.Anyone weighed in recently? Heard the noise from them huge machines. EMR aint going anywhere. There is no way they can be pushed around. They are huge.Even if enough cash could be found to tempt them ,there is nowhere big enough for them to go on this side of Manchester. The value of that site will always be a huge balance sheet asset to them, but it will always be a scrapyard.Would you like to live next door to the biggest scrapyard in Greater Manchester?
Jerry wrote
at 09:16:34 on 02 June 2018
It's an eyesore, has no purpose, and if it's the start of smartening up that part of Liverpool Street, I'm all for it. Concentrate on things worth saving like the Buile Hill Park mansion.
Cody wrote
at 07:08:54 on 02 June 2018
@ Animal Farm. You're right on the money, it's gentrification pure and simple, this Council and its supporters will argue it'll drag the surrounding area up with it, the reality is it will price the local people out of the area, which is what they want. These flats are always marketed as "Not far from Manchester City Centre, the Quays and local transport links!" Which is where they'll be going and spending their money, not towards Salford precinct and local businesses. It's investment at any cost for the Council, so local landmarks and heritage don't matter. In the Council's plans for the Crescent there's what looks like 2 huge sky-scrapers on top of the Working Class Movement Library, which is a listed building. I don't know if the plans are solid or not, but despite that the planning just pisses on there claim of "Soul not for sale".
Bob the regular wrote
at 07:07:30 on 02 June 2018
Funny PGR should mention Real Madrid and crappy old buildings in the same breath. If you look at my comments about Canon Green Court( above article), whilst perhaps the facade of that building might not be to my liking, it is to those with a greater artistic disposition.Let me explain. one day whilst visiting my friend we came accross a group of lads and girls with a photo crew.when asked what they were doing, they said they were doing a promotional shoot for real madrid merchandising. We thought they were taking the piss but they had tons of real Madrid gear. The photographers said it was an ideal venue.So ,should that block be knocked down, like all the ones that looked like that were in Kersal 30 years ago,should it be left like it is or should it be clad and tarted up? Only Labour Socialist wisdom can know the answer to that one. Lets get back to the gasholders. If we knock them down,we build new flats for middle income yuppies,who at the minute do seem to have a pot to piss in, how will this money going into the local ecconomy find its way into phils pocket? What could have happened is that these gasholders could have been incorporated into the design of the flats like they have done at "THE GASHOLDERS" kings cross London. That would have great appeal to these overpaid bbc and media types who like that sort of thing and would bring even more cash to our local ecconomy.It would seem that these Salford gasholders seem to be somehow lodged in the mind of the cultural aristocracy of this country, people like Paul Gent, cultural editor of the daily telegraph newspaper who mentioned it in his Telegraph article of the 8th april 2000. Perhaps Phil missed this article but I don't suppose he is a Telegraph reader. Talking about cultural aristocracy, why don't ours write on these pages. I bet a lot of them read the Star. You all know the names I am talking about. Are they all afraid about offending the powers that be in the Labour party, you know, the ones who are waiting to get nominated for knighthoods, damehoods, obe's all that shite.
Rossi speaks wrote
at 19:55:26 on 01 June 2018
The difference between Battersea Power station and "our" piece of Salford history, aka The Gasworks, Bob, is like the difference between Real Madrid and FC Salford. There's no comparison, Bob. It's like comparing the film "A Taste of Honey" with the 1970s Spanish classic, "Spirit of The Beehive. One's a dreary slice of black and white kitchen sink, most notable for having a very young Hazel Blears in it for about twenty seconds. The other is a thought provoking work of cinematic genius. Give up these nonsensical fantasies of the eyesore gasworks being some kind of landmark that Salfordians can be proud of. Just think of the future. Think of several ten storey apartment blocks, all nice and shiny with one hundred flats in each; then imagine all of that beautiful beautiful wonga that will be going into the council's coffers ever year by way of council tax; and then have the imagination to visualise the said residents of those bright and shiny new ten story apartment buildings splashing their middle income cash in the local economy; and then try picturing the knock on effect of that .... but I suppose that you would much prefer the ugly ruin of some crappy old gas holder, wouldn't you; because it's part of Salford's wonderful heritage and was immortalised in a duff old song by a bloke who used to sit on a reversed wooden chair and sing with a finger in his ear. Yes, that makes much more sense, doesn't it...
Animal farm wrote
at 19:55:03 on 01 June 2018
"SOCIALISM" and "aspirational yuppie blocks of flats" ??? It pretty much sums up the Labour council that has been socially cleansing areas of Salford for years. Salford will have nothing of any sort of historical value left. Just with what the Salford Star has reported in the last few years--the gasworks, the cranes, Buille hill mansion and park, pubs or cinemas. Tramways building on Frederick road? A facade now. The Guardian bulidings on Blackfriars? The same with a load of glass and concrete tagged on behind. I remember John Merry blaming problems on the Tories in 1998. What year is it now? How long were Labour in power for and how long have they been in power in Salford?
Bob the regular wrote
at 18:53:12 on 01 June 2018
Now imagine,if instead of having a shitty old gasholder (the gasworks bit is long gone) that a reasonably well known singer wrote a song about, what would be the case if we had on the site a shitty old power station that a world famous pop group had not written a song about. It would have made lots of financial sense to knock down Battersea power station, but they didn't. London has a huge problem about affordable housing. If they had knocked it down, the local authority could have extracted a huge price from the developers. And in London these lefty councils know about money, and how to screw it from developers. London also has many arty farty cultural types as well, and it was them that won the day
Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 09:30:16 on 01 June 2018
In my opinion nobody would give a rat's arse about this crappy old gasworks if ... If a song hadn't have been written by some old troubadour who spent the early part of his life in Salford, and apparently immortalised the gasworks by waxing lyrically about waiting for his girlfriend by the wall there. Don't you dummies get it, if a song hadn't have immortalised this decrepit old eyesore, nobody would give a shit about it and, I imagine, that people would have been clamouring to have it pulled down years ago. Desperate. Yes, desperate, to have some aspirational yuppie blocks of flats built on the land there. So really, all of these emotive bleatings coming out of the mouths of the Sheep, are purely influenced by a song. And let's face it, the song wasn't even that good. After all, Ewan Macoll is hardly Justin Sullivan is he? And Dirty Old Town is not the calibre of such New Model Army classics as Red Earth, or High. Just get real, People. Rid yourselfs of your shameful sentimentality. Progress is what matters. The future not the past. The phoenix, not the ashes. Salford is on the rise. Salford is on the march. Salford HAS a future. All thanks to the brilliant machinations of Mayor Paul and his team. Labour now, Labour forever... and remember, People ... Socialism ... SOCIALISM!
Arnold Rimmer wrote
at 19:22:46 on 31 May 2018
A faux Irish band making a reference in a song to a structure does not make it part of the city's heritage. The cranes definitely were and that was a shame they went but were structurally unsafe (although that was a blunder by the council for not paying to paint them regularly so they rusted until they were unsafe. Although people would probably complain about tens of thousands being spent on paint if they had. So they can't win.)
at 19:30:51 on 30 May 2018
@wrote I thought the same thing too but I can't tell if Phil is doing the same thing. He lays it on a bit thick.
at 18:02:31 on 29 May 2018
I thought that Bob the regular was extracting urine from Rossi, who fell for it. I may be wrong, but I think not.
Dave wrote
at 16:23:36 on 29 May 2018
Its alright going on, like regular Bob and his mate Philip do, about all this so called progress. What about all these working people who scrimped and saved to get a few quid together to buy these so called shitty places off the council who neglected them when they owned them. These people, like me, then went on to do them up as best we can so at least when were gone our grankids will have a bit of sumwhere to live. If that mayor gets his barmy way, he will pay us next to nothing and send in the bulldozers. Where will we live then,we wont be able to afford the new flats. Its called ethnic cleansing. When the bores in South Africa did it years ago they got slated for it, just like the generals in Burma are getting slated now.But if your victims are the working class of salford, and its salford council doing it, then nobody gives a monkeys.
Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 21:58:10 on 28 May 2018
Bob the Regular, I like what you're saying Bob, it's called progress; and it's beautiful.
Bob the regular wrote
at 16:41:08 on 28 May 2018
I am coming round to Phils ideas slowly but surely. I was walking back the other day from the precinct along that path that goes past where the champion used to be.As I looked up to my left,I could see the magnificent new library that our kind and benevolent mayor has built for us all to enlighten us in the ways of wisdom. As I looked around , I could see all these SHITTY old flats that some knobhead had tried to tart up with bits of plastic and polystyrene.Wouldn't it be a good idea, I thought to myself, to demolish all these Shitty old buildings,as we have done all over salford,and replace them with nice bright brand new apartments. Its a no brainer here. We could then flog these apartments to newcomers from London and Chineese investors. For all these Affluent newcomers, we could build a waitrose store and god knows how many organic foodshops in all the empty shops on the precinct. It could be just like Chorlton or Withington. Just think about it, what a nice summers day walk from Salford Precinct all the way to Manchester.
Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 19:06:24 on 27 May 2018
Katrina Bell, I'm sorry, but the gasworks are not an iconic landmark of Salford. They're simply an eyesore. They need to be pulled down and for apartments to be built on the land. I pass the gasworks frequently. I never see people standing around, marvelling at them, expressions of awe on their faces. I would wager that most Salfordians don't even know of them. For my opinion, the type of person who waxes nostalgically about this blot on the landscape, is very often the type of person who jumped ship and escaped from Salford years ago. Such people should not be listened to. They know not of that which they speak. They're the kind of people who think that that diabolical one hit wonder, Matchstick Men and Matchstick Cats and Dogs, was a good song because it was about LS Lowery and Salford. Fact is the song was the equivalent of shit on a plate, alongside a knife and fork. Fact is the gasworks is a crappy old eyesore, immortalized by a "folk" singer who fled Salford as soon as his boat came in. Demolish this eyesore NOW and build some flats. This is the right and progressive way to go. We in Salford must think of the future, and not hark back to the grim and grimy past. To a time of cloth caps and clogs, and old harridans saying things like "Eeer, 'appen yer right, kid." That's if people ever said shit like that in the first place. Viva Salford Labour! Viva Dennett! Viva Socialism! VIVA THE FUTURE!!!
Katrina bell wrote
at 14:11:17 on 27 May 2018
This is an iconic landmark of Salford and so much of its history is being destroyed I think it should be saved. Is it the land needs to be developed into flats then can we not keep the outer structure of this iconic landmark. I would like to join the campaign to save it. Rather than have another concrete building erected in Salford.
Gas Fest wrote
at 06:18:13 on 27 May 2018
GasFest---The reunion. The reunions of New Order, The Smiths and Oasis would be a brilliant way of celebrating and saving the gaswoks. Funds from this epic could be used to renovate Buile Hill Mansion. Ewan MacColl was singing about a different sort of dirt in the song, not the dirt of gentrification, social cleansing, developments and avoiding planning fees. Still a dirty old town but not in the same ways.
Cody wrote
at 04:36:57 on 26 May 2018
In my opinion they're part of Salford's heritage, they should be kept. There's plenty of other brownfield land in Salford to build on. But no, Liverpool street, which is in close proximity to central Manchester. The place will just end up another expensive development way beyond the reach of the average Salfordian, just like the ones going up on the Crescent. It's just not for us. The Labour Party in Salford is gentrifying the place and Labour supporters just stand and clap as it's done. If this Council was Tory and seen to be doing what Labour is there'd be protests against it. "Soul Not For Sale" I believe was the tag line they used for a recent presentation for the future of the Crescent, obviously that didn't extend to Liverpool street.
newford wrote
at 04:36:48 on 26 May 2018
It's got nothing to do with our "Council", the demolition was agreed to by the National Grid (who own the gas works), because the gasholders are now redundant and therefore not needed anymore. To leave them standing would only lead to corrosion and collapse and then who would be to blame if an accident occurred.For once Salford "Council" are relatively blameless over the affair.( Which is very,very unusual).
Peggy Seeger wrote
at 21:55:35 on 25 May 2018
No Comment. Rossi's comments are not worth it.
Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 19:18:25 on 25 May 2018
What does it matter, so what if a defunct old gasworks is being bulldozed? Does anybody really care? Is this really heritage that Salford should be proud of? Get real, Okay. This reminds me of the absurd furore surrounding the taking down of the Quays cranes, because they were Salfords heritage. Oh Please. Get a grip. So Ewan McColl immortalised them in a song called Dirty Old Town. Big deal. What did old Ewan do for Salford once he became established? How often did he come back here? Didn't he die in Kensington? Come on, Salford is no longer a Dirty Old Town. It's on the up, like a rocket set off on Bonfire Night; zipping off into the night sky at six hundred miles per hour. Salford is going places. This is all thanks to our Labour Council and Salfords highly capable Mayor, Paul. Forget the gasworks. There's land there, that means apartments rising like phoenixs from the ashes. That means new council tax being paid. It means money being spent in the local economy. Now I know what I would rather have; but I suspect that the old battler, Mary and Michael would rather have a crappy old gasworks. Peru has the ruins of Machu Pichu. Cambodia has Ankor Watt ... and Salford has a shitty old gasworks ... that Ewan McColl sang about in a duff old song before pissing off to London. Just pull em down and build some flats.
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