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Salford Docks were built by the Manchester Ship Canal to accommodate the cargo created by the opening of the Ship canal in 1894. The docks had a water area of 120 acres and the dock estate area covered 1,000 acres, excluding Barton Docks. Lines ran for 6.5 miles along the quays and the docks were arranged like the fingers of a hand with accommodation for warehousing and for bonded goods. The importance of the docks declined when Shell built its enormous oil refinery at Stanlow in 1949-51. Moreover, the growth of containerisation from the mid-1960s meant the death of Manchester as a port, as it was not large enought for the huge container ships. The docks finaly closed in 1982 with Salford City Council acquiring the majority of it from the Ship Canal Company. Today the dock area, under the guise of Salford Quays, is enjoying a new lease of life as a result of the efforts brought about by the 1985 Salford Quays Development Plan. This comprehensive development scheme as brought new uses to the former docks in the form of offices, residential accommodation and leisure facilities of which the newly opened 'Lowry' museum and theatre is the most nationally known. Opposite the Lowry, on Trafford Wharf, the Daniel Libeskind designed Imperial War Museum of the North.

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