Manchester docks were divided into two sections; the larger Salford docks to the west of the Trafford Road swing bridge and Pomona docks to the east. Each section consisted of four docks in total, the largest being to the west; Dock 5 at Pomona was never fully completed. Of the eight working docks only one, Dock 1 at Pomona, was within Manchester itself. During much of 1948, Manchester Docks were Britain's third busiest port owing to damage suffered by the Port of Hull during the Hull Blitz.
During the 1970s the docks began a rapid decline, largely due to containerisation. The increasing size of freight-carrying ships meant they could no longer navigate the ship canal and this, combined with increased trading with Europe and the east, saw use of Manchester Docks decrease. In 1982 the remaining docks closed and the area became derelict. Recognising the need to redevelop the area, Salford City Council purchased the docks in 1984 using a derelict land grant. The Salford Quays Development Plan was adopted in May 1985, proposing complete reclamation and development of the area for commercial, residential and leisure use.
The Salford docks are the western (downstream) block, made of four large docks running ENE from the canal, numbered 9,8,7 and 6, the last three off a turning basin. They have now been redeveloped into Salford Quays.
Upstream of Dock 6 there is a triangular depression in the canal wall on a similar alignment to the other docks: this was originally a second navigable channel under a fixed road bridge. At the end of the 19th century the channel was infilled above the bridge and the remainder retained as a wharf. Later this arm was further truncated into the vestige seen today.