Rifle Road is the continuation of Hardy Lane after the Jackson's Boat public house. It runs south towards the M60 motorway. I have always thought it was an interesting name, maybe it's something to do with shooting. Well that hunce turned out to be correct.
It is named Riflebutts Road on the 1875 OS map, and then as Rifle Road on subsequent OS maps. There was a rifle range nearby. The path to the range was roughly on the edge of the football pitch that is opposite the pub. The edge that is furthest from the river. The targets were in a field beyond, the one that was used by people flying model aircraft. It might still be used by the aircraft flyers only I haven't heard them in a while...
The rifle shooting for practice and competitions were the interest of the 28th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers, founded 7th April 1860 from men around the Sale Moor district.
Now I'm no military historian but it appears rifle volunteers was a popular movement from the 1860's through to the 1880's. For example there was a grand inspection event on The Roode, Chester on the 20th July 1860. The chaps from the 28th headed by Captain Watkin attended with lots of other volunteers before 35,000 to 40,000 spectators. The numbers involved in volunteering is around 100, a report from 1877 lists the 28th Cheshires having 89 enrollments and led by Captain Mattinson. It is also a time of technical developments in rifles with the switch from muzzle loading to the easier breech loading.
The 28th Cheshires were absorbed into the 12th Cheshire Rifle Volunteer Corps as G Company on 13th April 1880. They were joined by the 12th Altrincham, 15th Knutsford, 23rd Northwich, 26th Cheadle, and 32nd Lymm. The rifle range doesn't appear on later maps in the 1890's.
So, all that activity is remembered in the name of Rifle Road, and also a wonderful building The Volunteer Hotel (built 1898, Grade II listed, now Joseph Holt brewery) on Washway Road. That's the A56 Manchester to Chester Road, though the Romans who built the original might have called it something else..
Links : Orders of Battle
I'd recommend Gene Hunt's Photos on Flickr. He gets all over Manchester taking pictures of how the city looks today. That's his photo of the Volunteer Hotel taken in 2008.