National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009



     Silent Cargoes consists of assortment of large and small objects associated with the industries of Trafford Park and the docks arranged along the quayside by the Manchester Ship Canal. Objects include machinery, barrels, bales, boxes, metal pipes, tools, oil drums, chains, trolleys, anvil and horseshoes. The work covers an area of some 350 square metres.
     Silent Cargoes was commissioned by the Trafford Park Development Corporation in 1994, the impetus coming from the Corporation's chairman who had seen similar sculptures in Baltimore. James Wines of Site New York, who was already known for similar work in Vancouver, Seville and other cities, was responsible for the design. John King of Liverpool assisted in the production of the sculpture. Silent Cargoes is an arrangement of industrial artefacts - machinery, tools, chains, barrels and other objects associated with the docks and firms that once provided employment for tens of thousands in this part of the city. On closer inspection some of the artefacts bear the names of companies associated with the industrial estate: the radiator of a Ford car and a dynamo made by the Lancashire Dynamo Company. The workmen's clothing (flat cap, gloves) lying on the tops of boxes and other objects is a reminder of those who laboured on the docks and in the surrounding factories. These items personalise this world, suggesting that the workers have disappeared suddenly but that they might return at another time. John King who worked on the project preferred 'Ghost Cargoes' as a more appropriate title, capturing that sense of emptiness of industrial degeneration, with its resonances of the missing dockers, whose jobs were lost as the docks went into decline. All of the objects in the composition have been painted grey and where necessary stiffened. Two processes were used to produce the finished objects. Some articles were hot dipped and galvanised in zinc. For others, a vacuum mould of the object was prepared which was then filled with microsilicate concrete. The sculpture was installed during 1996 but was never officially unveiled. Given the extent of the installation and location there is only minor evidence of vandalism; some of the smaller hand tools and sacks having been prised off. Repairs to the sculpture were carried out in 1999.
     Representing the former industries and workers associated with the Ship Canal and Trafford Park.


Commissioned by Trafford Park Development Corporation / During the Centenary year of Trafford Park to portray the changing / activities on Trafford Wharf over the past 100 years / Public Arts / Putting art in public places

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Wines, James Architect

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
None microsilicate concrete area cov 49 metres x 7.5 metres approx

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • No damage
Structural condition
  • Surface damage
Road Quayside Walk
Precise location None
A-Z ref None
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1996
Unveiling details None
Commissioned by Trafford Park Development Corporation
Duty of care Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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