If you wanted to travel through an example of the demographic and development spectrum of Greater Manchester you could do worse than take the tram ride that spans the southern reaches of Trafford, Altrincham, to the Cornbrook stop at the borough’s northern boundary.
Both are multiples of the average value of properties in Old Trafford at the Cornbrook end of the line. A stroll around this ancient market town exudes affluence with the award-winning market housing stalls catering for foodies and luxury items rather than everyday necessities. The arrival of a Gail’s bakery soon in the town centre is very much seen as the litmus test for an area that has ‘arrived’.
Salfordian Sir Graham Brady, the long-serving Tory MP for Altrincham and Sale West, has witnessed the area’s renaissance but has recently announced he is standing down. Although according to recent polls he may not have had the choice to remain after the next general election.
The Sale stop on the tram marks an approximate midpoint, both geographically and economically. Average house prices come in at a more modest £404,145, but still above the national UK average. Buoyed by recent waterside development and the redeveloped Stanley square, the centre is attracting upmarket eateries and food shops.
Ashley, co-owner of Ashby’s organic grocers located in Sale centre, notes the recent changes to the town:
“Our shop has been open for a year but I have been a frequent visitor before this and the changes I have seen have been amazing. The improvements have spread from the centre out through School Road, Northenden Road with coffee shops and restaurants and even Washway Road has seen the arrival of fashion boutiques.”
The recent announcement of the closure of the the Stanley Square-based Sale food hall shows, however, that even this town is not immune from recent rises in energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis.
Ashley, though, remains optimistic:
“Sale is more of a destination place now, with visitors from nearby Altrincham and Chorlton as well as from closer to the city”.
The final stop on the tram, before you leave Trafford, serves as the main interchange for the Manchester Metrolink network, and is Cornbrook located in Old Trafford . Although buttressed up against the new developments of Manchester City centre, and with its affluent history and architecture in the conservation area along Chester Road, the area has recently received criticism for its lagging behind in development.
Pomona Island, next to the Cornbrook stop, now an overgrown wasteland and environmental retreat for bird life, once acted as a countryside and entertainment retreat for the city but is now squeezed on all sides by new developments.
It would be nice for this missing piece of the Trafford jigsaw to be returned with some thought to its historical role as a place of idyllic landscape and recreation for all of Trafford and Greater Manchester residents to enjoy. True development, not just about the bottom line.
Sign up to The Meteor mailing list – click here
The Meteor is a media co-operative on a mission to democratise the media in Manchester. To find out more – click here
All images: Gary Roberts