Hundreds of people crammed into Ordsall Hall on Friday for a one-off photo exhibition of Salford’s slum clearance areas.
It brought together former residents of now-demolished streets in central Salford to talk and reminisce on times gone by.
Salix Homes’ Our Salford: Bygones and New Beginnings celebrated the city’s social housing down the years.
It saw a mixture of photographs from Salford Local History Library and originals by noted former Ordsall resident, music photographer Laurie Asprey, bringing back memories of close-knit neighbours, back to back streets and terraced homes with outside toilets.
“You were in and out of everyone’s houses,” said 68-year-old Cheryl Placzek, who was born and lived on Tatton Street until she was 18 before moving to Nashville Street.
Cheryl worked as a punchcard operator at the Dock Offices for the Manchester Ship Canal Company from the age of 15, doing all the dockers wages.
Later, she moved from the area up to Pendlebury for her husband, who worked at Feb Chemicals on Swinton Hall Road.
So what made her want to move back in the first place?
“I loved it, I wish I could still live there now, it was a fabulous place to live. We left our door open all the time, we had street parties, trips out with children to Lytham St Anne’s.
“My mum lived two doors away, my uncle and his wife lived four doors away so we were all in the same street.
“It’s very emotional seeing these pictures, because it brings everything back, all the friends you used to have.
Can it ever be the same again?
“I wish it would because everyone got on, everyone knew each other and it was so friendly.
“You feel like these days you’ve got to be careful what you do, what you say and keep a close eye on your kids.
“People like Salix need to open more places for children to go so we can recreate that community.”
The popularity of the exhibition surprised even the organisers.
Chief Executive Lee Sugden told SalfordOnline.com they may even look at extending the lifespan of the photo exhibition with the help of the local history library.
“We’re looking to combine the history of housing in Salford along with our plans for a new chapter of Salford housing.
“The one thing that really does strike you is the Salfordian spirit. We were really overwhelmed with all the people who came forward to help out, especially Frank Asprey for putting us in touch with his brother to bring forward in these iconic photographs which chart the history of Ordsall in the 1950s and 1960s.
“What it shows you is the way housing needs to keep pace with the way that people live their lives.
“There isn’t enough housing in Salford, in the north west or in the country, so we need more homes.
“But Salix is not just about being a landlord, it’s about more than just bricks and mortar.
“Our plans for the future recognise that we’ve got a role in trying to create opportunities – many of the communities we work in are very deprived, and our commitment to the people living in our properties is that we’ll use the resources we’ve got to create as many opportunities for them as we can.”
The event also served as a launch for the housing association’s five-year plan for the future.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles said: “I don’t think previous governments have got it right in all cases. We need to reflect on the green shoots of regeneration we’re seeing in Salford but we need to keep pushing for more, and find more funding for areas that need more regeneration.
“We need more social housing being built, quite frankly.
“I keep hearing from the government that they want to build so many new houses, but there’s no mention of social housing, or affordable housing and that’s where the money needs to be going.
“They need to be giving local authorities and housing associations the ability to build mixed developments so you’ve got mixed communities. That was the whole point of council housing when it was thought up in the 1930s and 1940s.
“Our housing associations are doing a fantastic job but they’re up against it at the minute. They need more money from government so they can regenerate open spaces, parks and things that improve their quality of life, that people need and deserve.”
In March 2015 Salix transferred ownership of 8,500 homes from Salford City Council, after 61% of tenants voted in favour of the move.
It now manages homes across central Salford, Beechfarm in Swinton and Rainsough Brow in Prestwich.
The government promised to write-off £65m of old housing debt if the Salix transfer went ahead.
Salford City Council said it would not have the funding to do the same, leaving one in three homes ‘non-decent’ if the transfer did not go ahead.
Between 2015 and 2020 Salix Homes has committed to invest £75 million to bring all of its homes up to the Decent Homes standard.