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Vulex

UK Manchester Victoria Arches Nov 15

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Big big thanks to Bigjobs for this, although he isnt on this forum, hes well known. 

The entrance to this place will live with me forever, one of the most fun explores too, due to the entry and exit. The explore itself was decent but abseiling in the middle of manchester and the 'walk of death' after...

There were 14 of us and somehow we all got in without being caught. From the 14 all I can remember is @Lavino and @Paulpowers.

 

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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Edited by Vulex
Removing some numbers tagged to photos

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