Esprit was established in 1998 by Graham Dixon, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. After acquiring the derelict Trafford Park Docks, Esprit spent two years refurbishing the site opposite Salford Quays on the southern side of the Manchester Ship canal, which is now known as the Esprit Warehousing & Docks.
Esprit refurbished two warehouses on the site up to food-grade standard, so that freight can be stored at the docks, inside or outside, and gradually collected over a period of time. There is a weighbridge, ample HGV parking and, more unexpected, a laboratory sampling & testing facility for testing incoming raw materials and finished products ready for dispatch.
As the site includes a wharf on the Manchester Ship Canal, bulk goods such as road salt, aggregates, grain and biomass for companies including Cargill, Ab Agri and McPherson are brought via the Manchester Ship Canal into Manchester, reducing road congestion and pollution.
In 2017, the Manchester Evening News reported Dixon’s message: “If one ship brings 3000 tonnes of freight up the canal, that’s over 100 lorry journeys removed from the roads, requiring only the first and the final few miles to be carried by lorry instead of potentially hundreds of miles.”
The Esprit Trafford Park Docks can now handle vessels carrying oversized freight which is too large for normal transport by road.
In January the 2300 tonne ship ‘RMS Duisburg’ (above) arrived at Trafford Park Docks, marking its re-opening after being closed for over 10 years. It brought two large silos from Germany, bound for a factory in Manchester. They were collected from Rotterdam by RMS Duisburg, shipped around the south coast of England and arrived at Esprit’s Trafford Park Docks in Manchester, where two large cranes quickly transferred to low loaders ready for the final four miles by road under police escort.
Dixon said: “Imagine the congestion these would have caused if they’d travelled by road from Hull or Liverpool. Freight back on the Manchester Ship Canal: surely this has to be the way forward? Businesses need to start thinking ‘can our raw materials or finished goods be transported on the canal rather than by road?’ ”
The Handy Shipping Guide (2017) thinks that Trafford Park Docks will complement Port Salford, the new container handling facility Peel Ports is developing, which has the same goal of cutting road haulage problems.