The docks were built on the site of the former Pomona Gardens and zoo. Only part of No. 1 dock was actually within the Manchester city boundary and the rest of the area lies within Stretford.
The docks were intended only for coastal shipping with the larger vessels using the main docks to the other side of Trafford Road bridge.
In line with the general appearance of most of the early coastal vessels, the docks in this area tended to aquire a run-down appearance to match.
Plans were originally drawn up for five docks in this area although only four were ever completed, the site of the proposed No. 5 dock can be seen on the map. Work on this dock was largely completed, with the dock being excavated and the retaining walls built before work was abandoned and the dock filled in again.
No. 1 dock became the regular discharging point for the Coopers sand boats, these were always old vessels and one of them was to eventually sink in the canal at Latchford following a collision, so closing the upper reaches to larger vessels for some time. One of the early users of the docks was Fisher Renwick who launched a regular service to London in 1892.
Regular and welcome visitors from the early 1950's until the 1970's were the very smart and clean Guinness ships. Carrying cargos of "the black stuff" in barrels and steel containers ready for bottling, the ships were frequent visitors with The Lady Grania making weekly visits in 1954 and returning empty to Dublin. The trade ceased when Guinness moved their operations to Runcorn.
During the 1960's, in attempt to increase trade, a heavy-lift berth was set up in No. 3 dock, together with Ro-Ro facilities for ships designed for transporting heavy loads. The berth was capable of handling loads of up to 300 tons / unit.
A connection to the Bridgewater canal was built at Hulme Lock, up-river from the docks, and this was extremely busy for many years with much cargo being discharged from the bigger vessels into barges for onward transmission via smaller canals. The lock is still in existance but disused and in a poor state.
In attempt to increase numbers of pleasure craft using Salford Quays, the new Pomona Lock was built to replace the older lock further up-river, but as yet there does not seem to be much evidence that pleasure traffic has increased by any great deal. The new lock has a chamber 70 x 15 feet and cost £1.5M to build, it was opened on 26th May 1995.
Today very little remains to indicate that there were once bustling quaysides here and most of the docks have now been filled in.