'Salford First' – Salford, England - Atlas Obscura

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'Salford First'

This statue includes small details that highlight a city of "firsts." 


Situated in an open space in front of the Town Hall of Chapel Street, a site notorious for a 1931 uprising opposing high unemployment, stands an eight-foot metal horse standing next to a lamp post. The sculpture known as “Salford First” was crafted by British sculptor, Emma Rodgers

Installed in September of 2021, this public art piece looks typical until closer inspection. Several objects decorate the statue and are associated with the surrounding community. The two most obvious are the horse and the lighting structure.

The equine figure is symbolic of a Salford thoroughbred, meant to represent Salford as being the first city in the United Kingdom to have horse-drawn trams. Horses also played a major role in the Industrial Revolution, being vital to work carried out along the city’s canals and in the coal mines. The 11-foot streetlamp is meant to indicate that this area was the first to have gas lighting fixtures in England.

There are also several books depicted. In 1850, Salford was the first city to have a public library. There are also quotes from famous people who were born or lived in Salford. These include scientist James Prescott Joules, suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, and actor Albert Finney. There are also lines from the famous “punk” poet John Cooper Clarke and lyrics by the musician Peter Hook, founder of Joy Division and New Order.

Emma Rodgers, who is most known for her sculpture of the female signer Cillia Black in Liverpool described the work as a celebration of “firsts.” She is quoted as saying the following: “I wanted to bring together and celebrate these firsts in one piece, offering an opportunity to discover, explore and reflect on Salford’s fascinating and inspiring stories.”

Know Before You Go

The statue stands in a level paved pedestrian area, next to the Deli-Lama cafe, and can be seen at any time. 

There is disabled and regular on-street parking on Ford Street, with a car park nearby. 

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June 13, 2022

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