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Pomona Quays, Salford, Greater Manchester, England.

Believe it or not, this area was once at the centre of Manchesterís entertainments scene! The vast stretch of land around the Pomona Docks has stood desolate for decades. But during the nineteenth century, the area was home to botanical gardens and the Royal Pomona Palace - which was bigger than the Albert Hall. Pomonaís success lay in its proximity to the congested city centre, and it was promoted as the countryside without the need for a train journey: it was an idyllic escape. Opened originally in 1845 by William and Joseph Beardsley Cornbrook as Strawberry Gardens, it quickly became the centre of Manchesterís leisure time activities - 100,000 visited in the first year. Due to the abundance of horticulture, the name was later changed to Pomona Gardens - after the Roman goddess of fruit. According to Chethamís Library: ďPomona Gardens was one of the most important pleasure gardens in 19th Century Manchester.
Despite the roaring success of the gardens, businessman James Reilly felt there was more to be done. Buying the gardens, in 1868, for £75,000, Reilly decided indoor entertainment was a must considering the seemingly-constant Manchester rain - and the idea for the Royal Pomona Palace was born. The building was 216 ft long and 220 ft wide, with a clock tower in the centre 100ft high. Completed in 1875, it was the jewel in the cityís crown, seating between 20,000 and 30,000 people. It was the biggest concert hall in the country - almost four times bigger than the Royal Albert Hall.
But the glory days were short-lived. Competition for visitors heated up in the late 19th Century, with Belle Vue - which boasted a zoo - becoming increasingly popular. The fate of Pomonaís grand palace and its surrounding gardens were sealed June 22 1887, when a catastrophic explosion at a nearby chemicals factory left the building badly damaged. Pomona closed shortly after.
The area was then identified as ideal for extending the docklands of the Manchester Ship Canal. Owner Mr Reilly was paid £75,000 and the gardens disappeared. Docks 1 to 4 were dug on the eastern side of the canal, with No 5 on the Salford side never completed. That chapter lasted until the 1970s, with the closure of the docks. Unlike nearby Salford Quays, the site has seen little development, except for the infilling of the actual docks themselves, though there was a short-lived attempt to bring entertainment back to Pomona. Manchesterís first nightclub on a ship - North Westward Ho - was fleetingly popular. Its owners later purchased the Dehavilland Comet - an ex-RAF aircraft - to add a restaurant and dance floor. Both were closed in 1981. Pomona was left desolate and became an overgrown wasteland, which is how it was when I was there a few years ago. I didnít really feel safe, as the area had a distinctly derelict, threatening feel. Iím told the area is due for development, which doesnít surprise... I do hope itís not just another bunch of high-rise flats though. See the workshops for alternative views.

Shutter speed: 1/180 sec
Aperture: f/4.5
ISO: 200
Focal length: 130 mm

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Additional Photos by Will Perrett (willperrett) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1069 W: 303 N: 3029] (13875)
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