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Tony Grist

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From Park Bridge To Daisy Nook [Jul. 31st, 2008|09:58 am]
Tony Grist
The river Medlock rises in the Pennine foothills and runs along the border between Oldham and Tameside, ending up in Manchester, where it joins itself to the Irwell. From the 1790s through to the 1920s (approx) the upper Medlock valley was an industrial hell. It's now (mostly) a country park. 

From Park Bridge to Daisy Nook is about two miles.  There was an ironworks at Park Bridge and coal pits all around. The ironworks has been selectively demolished, leaving a faintly surrealist jumble of chimneys, pavements, lawns and staircases that lead nowhere.  There's a visitors centre and the ruins have been used for Open Air Theatre. I'd love to see them do Hamlet here.



Below Park Bridge- at Fenny Field Bridge- was the terminus of the Fairbottom Branch Canal. Here coal was delivered to the wharf by tramway and loaded on barges ultimately bound for Manchester. The first half mile of the canal- as far as I can determine- is now a bridle path.



The canal passed under Bardsley Bridge...



...beyond which it becomes a canal again- or rather an elongated fish pond-  though most of it is choked with bullrushes and other weeds. 



At Waterhouses (now known as Daisy Nook) it joined the larger Hollinwood Branch Canal. There are some mighty works of late 18th century engineering here. The canal dropped down the hill through a system of several locks,



then passed over the river on the cyclopean Waterhouses Aqueduct. 


 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2008-07-31 11:09 am (UTC)
Daisy Nook! Gosh, that takes me back. When my Dad was a boy it was their local beauty spot and they regularly used to hike there from his home in Failsworth. It was starting to become built up in my youth, but we still went there on occasion. I'm afraid to say that I don't recognise it at all, it's been so long.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 11:48 am (UTC)
I've been going there- on and off- for twenty years. I used to be able to walk all the way from our home and back in the course of an afternoon. Not any more. I'm afraid I did this reconnoitre- over a couple of days- by car.
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From: nostoi
2008-07-31 11:58 am (UTC)
I was reading about the River Irwell yesterday and its change from a beautiful river meandering through the countryside to a more or less open sewer with the onset of industrialisation.

It was interesting what the book (Lancashire: the first industrial society had to say about industrialisation and the loss of the population's identity as people, instead becoming merely units of production for the benefit of the factory owner.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 01:12 pm (UTC)
It cut both ways, I believe. Some people- women especially- found a new independence and dignity in factory work. Being a peasant wasn't necessarily a whole lot of fun.

And of course, without the industrial revolution we'd never have developed an urban working class- with its distinctive culture and politics.
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From: nostoi
2008-07-31 02:29 pm (UTC)
No, it wasn't I agree. I'm reading accounts of the earlier part of the 19th century where starvation was the norm for many people. By the end of the century with improved wages and working hours legislation life was a lot better.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-07-31 01:01 pm (UTC)
What an interesting, and beautiful place! I would enjoy seeing it in person I am sure.

Do you know the name of the purple vine by any chance?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 01:06 pm (UTC)
That's lilac isn't it? The picture is a little misleading; it's not growing on the wall, but beside it.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-07-31 01:22 pm (UTC)
Oh... that might be, though our lilacs only bloom in the spring. It might even be a butterfly bush kind of plant. It's very pretty, whatever it is.
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From: nostoi
2008-07-31 02:19 pm (UTC)
I thought it was a buddleia.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-07-31 02:24 pm (UTC)
Oh good... that is what we call a Butterfly Bush. :^)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 02:40 pm (UTC)
I've asked Ailz. She agrees: it's a butterfly bush/buddleia.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-07-31 02:45 pm (UTC)
The "cyclopean" (lovely description!) aqueduct is spectacular in your photo. I love the perspective the boys in the picture give as to the size of the construction.

From where and to where did the aqueduct carry water?

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 03:05 pm (UTC)
It carried the Hollinwood canal- which ran between Hollinwood and Ashton-under-Lyne- where it joined the Ashton canal which goes down into Manchester.

According to my sources, the prime function of this canal network was to transport coal from the mines up here in the hills to the great manfacturing city on the plain.
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[User Picture]From: wyrmwwd
2008-07-31 02:53 pm (UTC)
This reminds me a lot of where I live. Syracuse used to be a major industrial center and a stop on the Erie Canal. They have since filled in the canal here, and most of the industry is gone.

Isn't it wonderful how Nature just takes stuff back?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 03:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love to watch Nature re-colonising the sites we abandon. She moves with remarkable speed.

Mind you, a lot of British canals have re-opened in recent years. People love (a) living beside water and (b) messing about in boats. There are even plans (probably not very far advanced) to re-open the canals I've pictured here.


Edited at 2008-07-31 03:17 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-07-31 04:38 pm (UTC)
The canal with rushes is a pleasure to look at, and particularly fine are the purple flowers against the red bricks.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-07-31 09:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

Those purple flowers smelled nice too!
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