OYSTERSEating them might be like licking snot off a tortoise but there is little argument about the benefits these molluscs bring to our coastal waters. They are essentially the caretakers of the oceans, acting as natural water purifiers by cleaning out pollution from seas and rivers. Around 1,300 native oysters have been returned to waters in River Conwy, North Wales, as part of  a project to bring back these creatures from the brink of extinction. The Wild Oysters Project – a partnership between Zoological Society of London, Blue Marine Foundation, and British Marine – aims to restore healthy, resilient coastal waters to the UK. In a bid to restore native oyster populations, nurseries filled with oysters will be suspended underneath marina pontoons in Conwy Marina and Deganwy Marina. 

Mackie Mayor Market

BEARDS…Mackie Mayor, Picturedrome, and Altrincham Market: every town centre wants one, but not every town centre needs one. That is what Phil Mayall, development director at Muse Developments, and Mark Robinson, chair of the Government’s High Streets Taskforce, told Place North West. There is no doubting the success and pulling power of these three venues, but simply plonking a food hall in the middle of a rundown town centre will not have an automatic transformative effect, the pair said. In any case, there are only so many independent traders out there to fill them. “I wonder if there are enough bearded hipsters that want to sell burgers for £15 a pop,” Robinson said.


SKYHOOKS…It has been a long wait but the Sky Hooks sculpture at the entrance to Trafford Park has been reinstalled as the construction of developer Cole Waterhouse’s No1 Old Trafford nears completion. The gravity-defying sculpture, designed by artist Brian Fell, was enveloped in bubblewrap and put into storage two years ago while lead contractor Domis got to work building the 354-apartment development, which topped out last summer.

Warrington Bank Quay Bridge Lift

EASTER BRIDGE…While you were busy making your way through enormous piles of egg-shaped chocolate last weekend, a crew of orange-clad rail workers were hard at it replacing an outdated bridge at Warrington Bank Quay station. The £3.5m investment as part of the Great North Rail Project required a crane to remove the old bridge, which carries two railway tracks on platform one, and lift the new one into place. The improvements are designed to make future rail journeys more reliable for passengers and freight, a Network Rail spokesperson said through a mouthful of well-deserved Easter egg. 

Ma Boyle's Outside

BAR BACK…Liverpool bar Ma Boyle’s missed out on celebrating its 150th anniversary last year but, much like the Euros and the Olympics, the organisers of the shindig have simply pushed everything 12 months into the future. However, unlike the aforementioned sporting events, there will be real-life people in attendance to enjoy the festivities at Ma Boyle’s. The bar’s owners have splashed out £15,000 on getting the Water Street boozer ready for reopening next week, investing in outdoor seating and other Covid-secure paraphernalia. Owner Iain Hoskins said: “We really can’t wait to be welcoming everyone back. We are also in the unusual position of missing our 150th-anniversary celebrations last year because of the pandemic, so will be making up for that in 2021 with some very special moments – a year late!” 

Salboy Castle Irwell

SAFETY FIRST…This week has taught us how neurotic Mother Nature can be: snow showers have punctuated gloriously sunny spells, while ominous storm clouds appeared and disappeared at irregular intervals. At Salboy’s Castle Irwell development, contractor Domis is taking no chances when it comes to the potential dangers of unpredictable weather. A large puddle on the Littleton Road side of the Salford site could easily become a lake in the event of heavy downpour, so the construction firm has installed an orange lifebuoy on the banks of the burgeoning lagoon in case anyone gets into difficulty. Smart thinking.

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