Tree Of Knowledge
The mural was created in 1962

Housing proposed for Tree of Knowledge site 

Dan Whelan

Salford City Council wants to create 45 homes where Irwell Valley High School once stood, the site of a listed mural by Alan Boyson that was preserved when the school was demolished in 2009. 

The narrow 1.8-acre plot sits off Blandford Road next to the Albion Academy in the Charlestown area of Salford. 

Designed by architects PRP, the council’s proposed redevelopment of the site features 21 houses and 24 apartments. 

The houses would comprise a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom properties while the apartments, which range in size from from 398 sq ft to 796 sq ft, would have either one or two bedrooms.   

All of the homes would be available on affordable tenures in a bid to address the area’s 809-home social housing shortfall.

The development, to be known as Irwell Valley and built by Seddon Construction, would be accessed via Coniston Street and Gerald Road. 

Vacant and gated off since 2009, the site was originally home to Cromwell Secondary School for Girls, built in 1962. 

The site has also been known as Irwell Valley High School and Salford University College at various stages in its history. From 2001 until their demolition eight years later, the buildings were used by Salford University’s art department. 

The majority of the buildings on the site were demolished in 2009 but Boyson’s mural was retained following a public campaign to save it. All that is left on the site now is the small portion of the former school on which the mural is located. 

Stockport-born Boyson, who died in 2018, created the sculpture in 1962. 

According to Historic England, which listed the artwork in 2009 thus saving it from demolition, said the mural has “a high level of aesthetic and artistic quality…[and] is a good example of the integration between art and architecture, and the 1950s/60s policy of enhancing communities through the incorporation of art work in the public realm”. 

The mural depicts a symbolic tree of knowledge with songbirds, flowers, and an owl of wisdom.

Under the council’s proposals for the site, the mural will be retained and will flank one of the houses, overlooking an area of public space in the centre of the site. 

Boyson’s other works include the concrete frieze at Merseyway Shopping Centre in Stockport and the Three Ships mosaic in Hull.

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Good to see the mural staying. They should have worked with Bellway to pull it together with the British Vita site on Seaford Road, but I assume Bellway aren’t progressing with that site after all this time.

By Anonymous

Good it’s not being demolished and the vacant land around it being used for affordable housing.

By Born Bred Darren.