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The Impossible Bridge And The Improbable Hill: Irk Valley Tour

Jonathan Schofield and a remarkable part of MCR: lost buildings, parks and quarries

Written by . Published on May 15th 2014.


The Impossible Bridge And The Improbable Hill: Irk Valley Tour
 

THIS is a long article, in several chapters. You might want to read it that way, chapter by chapter, and return to it or plough through it all in one go.

It's the start of a series of occasional pieces looking at - in terms of people visiting them - forgotten areas of Greater Manchester which are steeped in history, life and landscape fascination. These are not routes in Tatton Park with waymarked paths and baby-changing facilities, they are routes scarred by post-industrialisation, by fly-tipping, yet they say so much about the way our country and city developed and are developing.

We start just a mile or so north of the CIS Tower in Manchester with a stroll or bike ride down the valley of the River Irk. Practical details of how best to get there if you wish to follow this route are contained in the yellow box at the end of the article.

Jonathan Schofield will be leading a walk incorporating part of this route on Saturday 17 May - see details below the article or here.

Chapter One - Death, Stone And Plague

WHY did they do these things? Was there no aesthetic sense to what makes a city's identity? Why the needless demolition?

I sometimes wish I could climb inside the heads of planners from the fifties and sixties to work it all out.

Maybe I'd get lost in their neuron networks and find dreams of streets in the sky, an auto-age of shining metal and shiny people in a perfect world. An unreality - something akin to the Earth you see in Star Trek movies.

Their mental maps would - it seems - have little or no place for the finest neo-Greek buildings in a city. Old you see. Possibly expensive to save - so let's get rid eh?

"Hey, look at this pile of old crap," somebody must have said in Manchester Town Hall sometime around 1963, "let's demolish these and replace them with a low brick wall." 

 Sixties blindness - sixties cold rationalism, no place for these suburb and city enhancers

Sixties blindness - sixties cold rationalism. No place for these suburb and city enhancers

So they did and a befuddled population looked on and did nothing, because no doubt the men from the planning department knew best. So Harpurhey lost its most impressive connection to the past. Manchester's Euston Arch perhaps?

Low brick better than Greek gatesLow brick beats Greek gates I'm thinking this as I'm approaching Manchester General Cemetery begun in 1837.

I'm thinking I would love to see the fine temples by William Lambie Moffatt in the flesh rather than the photo.

But instead I step over that low wall (has anybody read Ursula Le Guin's Farthest Shore?) to where the dead have been gathered and stored in an up and down landscape to the edge of the sudden deep down of the River Irk valley. 

The dead march before us

 

The dead march before us

Amidst the trees and the tall monuments at that far end there is a mini-Manchester Highgate. Here under the broken pillars, the carved hourglasses with the sand all run out, you'll find merchants, industrialists, businessmen and their broods. But you'll also find Sergeant Brett and foundlings.

Brett was the first Manchester policeman to be killed on active duty when he was murdered by Fenians in 1867. His death led to the public hanging of three men of Irish heritage, almost certainly the wrong men, who subsequently became known by the Irish as the Manchester Martyrs. Foundlings were abandoned children, and their sad little graves, paid for by benefactors or public subscription, dot the cemetery. 

Over a broken fence to the west there is bumpy terrain. Later I discovered this was where the common graves were located. These graves contain several bodies even hundreds and held the dead who couldn't afford a private grave and also paupers, the literally penniless.

All the time I'd been in the cemetery I'd been the only soul there: the only living soul I should say if I were the type who believed in the blowing of trumpets, the graves opening, the Second Coming and all that. I don't. But the pathos of being surrounded by tens of thousands still has potency and remember, it was planned that almost 200,000 would be buried here, quiet in Harpurhey, waiting for their resurrection. 

 Img_5193

 

The hourglass of life is empty but never mind, its sprouted angel wings to carry you to Heaven

As an aside, many of the stones are tumbled flat not through vandalism, but through Health and Safety concerns - although some are now being lifted. You can read about Manchester General Cemetery on this website created by a group of people who clearly have more feeling for local identity than the fools in the planning department in the sixties.

Queen's Park adjoins the cemetery. It was  - with Peel Park in Salford and Phillips Park close to the Etihad Stadium - created in 1846, the first of the classic municipal British parks. It is nationally important but doesn't detain people long anymore.

Once famous for its floral displays and its art gallery, Queen's Park is now a low maintenance space, a good place to walk the dog but hardly to linger. The art gallery is a storage and restoration building for Manchester Art Gallery in Mosley Street, barren to the public it was created to serve and more like a factory in landscaped surroundings than a place to escape too.

Across the empty park to the old gallery

Across the empty park to the old gallery

There's an irony here that as funding for health care and essential services has risen exponentially, especially in low income areas, such as Harpurhey and Collyhurst, the beauty and pride a well-maintained formal park lent deprived areas has been left out of the equation.

This means the reason for the creation of Queen's Park has somehow been lost, yet the lack of such spaces surely contributes to the low health indices. Why can't a compromise be struck and money somehow diverted into the park? Why must we have one without the other?  

Perhaps it's not a council or governance problem. Perhaps we have a philanthropy gap - are there not individuals in Greater Manchester who could help make our parks blossom? 

Maybe this could be how the evil of tax avoidance by the big corporations could be handled. Say Google or Vodafone commit to twenty million for Queen's Park then the same figure can be tax deductible. 

On leaving Queen's Park I realised it was jammed between Heaven and Hell. Appropriate since it's become a purgatory.

Just outside the southern gate on Queen's Road is the Hellfire Club. A 'goth' spot for vamps and their friends.

 

Hellfire ClubHellfire Club

I crossed over Queen's Road where there's a good view of the tall buildings in the city centre from the bridge over the River Irk. Then I headed on south through seventies housing that seems well-kept and cared for, over the new Metrolink line, following the road as it dipped into woodland past St Malachy's RC School.

After the junction with Smedley Road and under a viaduct carrying the aforementioned Metrolink there's something to make you smile. You can't help yourself. Why on earth is there a 6.9m (almost 23ft) ship rising out of the ground? (See main picture at the top of the page).

But before answering that question, it's best to continue down the road for a short distance and turn up Fitzgeorge Street under the viaduct and take the path to the left of the United Utilities works. There is an outcrop of purple-red rock here, all that remains of Collyhurst Quarry. This is the stone that built Manchester.  

The stone that built Manchester

 

The stone that built Manchester

Chetham's School and Library, St Ann's Church, the orginal Cathedral stonework, Hanging Bridge at Hanging Ditch all came from here. It was so well-known this Collyhurst Sandstone it even became the generic term for this type of north western sandstone. 

The official description runs: 'The red stone is about 280 million years old, created from desert sands blown into dunes, when this area of the British Isles occupied low latitude desert belts to the north of the equator. The rock is not very resistant to the ravages of weathering and erosion and disintegrates relatively quickly.'

Look at the interior wall of Chetham's gatehouse and you'll see the truth of this description. When this quarry was exhausted the Victorians turned to the harder golden sandstone you see in the Town Hall. Strangely enough it was Robert Angus Smith in 1852, in Manchester, who first discovered acid rain and its link to carbon burning and industrialisation.

Appropriate this, as by that time much of the acid rain he was studying was being produced in the valley of the River Irk all around this spot. 

Oh, and before we leave this chapter it was at the top end of Collyhurst Clough - of which the quarry forms part - where the plague pits of Manchester were located.

But I've had enough of death. It's time for ships, paint, the improbable hill and the impossible bridge.  

Fox Courtyard - Chetham's showing Collyhurst sandstone and industrial 'acid rain' erosion

 

Fox Courtyard, Chetham's School of Music and Library, from 1421, showing Collyhurst sandstone and industrial 'acid rain' erosion

Chapter Two - Positive Thinking, Paint And Sculptures

Let's start again with that ship launching itself out of the ground.

This is by John Wolfenden for the firm of HMG Paints. It's made from mild steel plates and was erected in 1994. 

It’s also a bit of Monty Python, put there by the company as a moment of absurdity to brighten the days of passers-by with its sheer incongruity.

The title of the piece is Dreadnowt/Nothing to worry about and is a Northern play on Dreadnought, the name of the Royal Navy battleship that made every other battleship in the world obsolete when it was launched in 1906. There is no connection to the Irk Valley which makes it all the better.

Sad site-specific artworks that refer to the heritage of an area are two-a-penny in the UK. This is fun.

Pre-WWII industry defined this area, but now there’s only HMG Paints left as a major manufacturer.

In a late nineteenth century survey in our part of the Irk Valley and in Collyhurst, there's a list of the manufacturing taking place. They include an ironworks, several dyeing and finishing plants, paper mills, paint works, brickfields, masonry wrights, saw mills, chemical works including a starch and gum works, machine engineers, a glass works, a plaster of Paris works (presumably not made out of plaster of Paris), a locomotive works, a colliery, a rope works, a naptha distillery and salmo distillery (me, neither), a gas works and a Viagra factory - well I'm assuming that is what a ‘Stiffening Works’ is all about. 

No wonder there was acid rain as described in the previous chapter above. Hence all the jobs too and  hence the growth of North Manchester.

But that's all gone aside from HMG Paints. So how has it survived? 

John Falder, the managing director of HMG paints, talked to me about HMG: "We don't want to leave, we don’t want to sell up. We’ve been here since Harry Marcel Guest set us up on 4 October 1930. We have 170 staff employed with us and we are the largest industrial producer of paints in the country with a thousand active accounts, and this is our home." 

“We have survived here - prospered is maybe a better word - because we provide quality products. But more than that it’s because this company is its people. We are bound together with a common purpose almost like a co-operative – but with a board and management.”  

Falder on the job

 

Falder on the job - thanks to www.oldclassiccar.co.uk for the picture

I suggest this sounds a little too cuddly for a profit driven enterprise. 

“It’s not," says Falder with a laugh, “I mean it. We don’t feel we have to take part in a lot of what now constitutes standard business practice. We don’t have rationalisations that humiliate people by making them re-apply for their jobs. We have stayed put because in terms of our paints we are ahead of the game, but also because we believe we have a duty to those who work with us and have worked for us. Did you know one of the origins of the word ‘company’ is ‘to break bread together’? Well in a paternalistic way, that’s how we see the relationships across HMG.” 

So how is this delivered practically? 

“We work with the local school academy. We have eight fourteen-year-olds just starting courses with us leading to jobs. We want to be part of Collyhurst, not just people who drive in and drive out because the factory is here. At the same time there are two people in the lab who retired seven years ago and we can't keep them away. They will mentor the young people we have coming in. That's our way of doing things.” 

Falder’s words seem like a blueprint to me for British industry. Pride in where you are and what you do, harmonious relations between managers and workers. It's what the Germans deliver so well, long term thinking allied to top products.

You’ll find HMG paints everywhere, on the Brompton bike I was riding down the Irk Valley, on the new 4x4 Jaguar shown below and on hundreds of the household products you use. 

Jaguar

Jaguar - the blue is HMG blue manufactured in Collyhurst

Just after HMG on the right of the valley is The Improbable Hill. This hill looks strange, unnatural. And it is. It’s a spoil hill, steep from the valley, part wooded, part turfed. A hill made from the waste of a 150 years of industrialisation.

Once there was a quarry here, before that there was a pleasure gardens, the toast of Manchester, the playground of the well-to-do. This was Vauxhall Gardens, set up by John Tinker in the 1790s and continuing until the 1850s, when it was swamped by industry. Here there were tea parties, balloon ascents, flower displays, lantern evenings, musical soirees and much else – think Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen.

When it closed the site was hollowed out as a brickfield and quarry and poisoned in its air and its ground. In the 1990s it was landscaped and raised to this improbable hill, crowned by a sculpture opposite in spirit to Wolfenden’s Dreadnowt.

Breaking the MouldBreaking the MouldAndrew McKeown’s Breaking the Mould is ok, inoffensive, but it’s not necessary. There’s no fun in it. Worse it’s off-the-peg art, there are more than twenty of this same work across the country. It's regeneration fodder art.

The industrial mould has broken revealing a seed, a promise of new life for ex-industrial areas. Right. Good. Yawn.

Still of you’re feeling energetic then you can clamber up the highest bit of the sculpture and get a grand view of Manchester city centre. I caught it with the sun low in the sky and the city a heroic silhouette.

Cut out and keep Manchester in silhouette

Cut out and keep Manchester in silhouette

To the east, nearby, are the unattractive maisonettes and flats of the 1960s Collyhurst slum clearance programme. Those dreaming planners again - see the opening section of Chapter One above. 

Emmeline's Name In LightsEmmeline's Name In LightsThat slum clearance as can be seen, didn’t quite work out, although the noughties re-working of three tower blocks for private occupiers and capped with the neon names of the Pankhurst family, Emmeline, Sylvia, Christabel – Manchester suffragettes – are sort of fun. At night at least. During the day you wonder why the developer Urban Splash chose the drab, brown walls.

The Metrolink services rattling on the viaducts here rattle over the site of one of Manchester’s worst rail disasters. I have to mention death again. On Saturday 15 August two trains collided and one fell into the River Irk killing ten people.

The tram rattles over the deadly viaduct

The tram rattles over the deadly viaduct, the picture is taken from the Improbable Hill

Chapter Three - That Bridge, City Forest And Another Bridge

Back down on Collyhurst Road something was intriguing me. A strange piece of brickwork was rearing out of the trees across the river. It seemed an unfeasibly high lump of dark Staffordshire brick.

I crossed the river and found a path that climbed and turned into a precipitous stair that became the most unlikely footbridge I’ve ever come across. This Impossible Bridge is a vast piece of engineering now lost in a scrub wood of birch and sycamore like something Mayan in a Mexican rainforest.

Up the stairs

Up the stairs

Built in the 1890s to lift people from Collyhurst Road to Cheetham Hill, but then also having to lift them again over the now-vanished railway sidings of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, it’s an extraordinary structure. It leads at present from one unimportant nowhere to another unimportant nowhere with ridiculous overbearing presence. Ozymandias eat your heart out.

Lowry - Collyhurst FootbridgeLS Lowry - Collyhurst FootbridgeIt’s always impressed as well. It’s even got a place in art history. LS Lowry, the miserablist artist beloved of teatowel makers across the country captured it in a sketch.

The Impossible Bridge provides astonishing views of the city centre and the surroundings, from the moors to the north to the immediate environs. 

From the view you can see how the River Irk valley has been reclaimed for nature - aside from the HMG plant and some smaller companies. 

Take it back a few years though and this was a burnt, battered, ruined landscape. Curious that while Queen's Park up the way was beautifully -almost London Royal Parks standard - maintained, a half mile away was nothing but a chemically rotten industrial wasteground. 

1950s scene showing the view back to the Improbable Hill from the Impossible Bridge

1950s scene showing the view back to the yet to reclaimed Improbable Hill from the Impossible Bridge

Of course the perfect solution would have been the environmental cleaning of the valley with retention of scrubbed up industry and the jobs they provided, while, of course, Queen's Park remained manicured.

Not impossible surely? Dream on maybe.

Bridge and Brompton Bike

The Impossible Bridge, the Brompton Bike and 'Pankhurst' flats

Under the Impossible Bridge and stretching away on each side are the abandoned railway sidings. Here are acres and acres of brownfield site, an unclaimed nature reserve, a forest a half mile outside Victoria Station, fenced off and hidden in plain sight. 

Manchester, it would appear, has a lot of room for manoeuvre in its inner areas. Even the land stretching from Castlefield almost to United's ground between the Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal - Pomona - pales in comparison. 

The empty acres

The empty acres

Given the forests and woods here before the industrial age, its apt perhaps for them to stage a fight back. The River Irk gets its name from a variant on the word for roe deer. The sentiment seems to have been that it was as fast and nimble as a deer, the fastest in terms of current of the streams and rivers coming into the central Manchester area. 

But the notion of deer was fitting too because of the hunting that was to be had here and further up the valley and into Blackley. Not only deer but boar too. Yum. Think of the bird life. Much of it edible. Anybody for woodcock? Whisper it folks but the roe deer are back in those woods beneath the bridge. The Irk has reclaimed its own.

Between the Impossible Bridge and the city centre, right in the foreground of the view there was once Travis Island. This was an area of land made into an isle by a leet that ran a waterwheel that powered a once famous cornmill. The railway sidings did for that little slice of Manchester's baking history.

Back down from the bridge the city closes in. Tatty ex-industrial buildings tighten on Collyhurst Road and the river. At the Dalton Street junction Collyhurst Road becomes Dantzic Street. The name marks Manchester's trading links with Dantzic, now Gdansk in Poland. 

Where Roger Street from Cheetham Hill hits Dantzic Street there's a scruffy low bridge over the Irk.

As I took a photograph a head appeared over a concrete wall on the Collyhurst side. Shaved, bald. Tough. The yard he was speaking from seemed some sort of scrapyard. 

"You're not going to throw that bike in the river, are you?" the man bellowed about my Brompton.

"What are you saying about my bike?" I laughed.

"Nothing, but they've tried to clean that river and they don't want bikes thrown in it," the man said. 

I looked into the Irk, it was choked with discarded waste and plastic bags. I was here to praise Irk, not to damn it. Or even dam it.

"Not sure why for one minute you might think I'd want to throw the bike I've just ridden here into the river," I replied irritated.

We stared at each other across the wall and the road for a tense moment. The man shrugged and disappeared.

I turned to look at the bridge.

Tatty old monument

Tatty old monument

After Manchester's oldest manmade remains, the Roman wall hidden in a fenced site in Castlefield, this is perhaps the city's most unfortunate listed structure.

Union Bridge, leaping the Irk in a battered single arch, is in a sorry state. When it actually dates from is unclear. The listing says late 18th or early 19th century.

I'm going for the year 1800, the middle way.

It was in that year Britain formally incorporated Ireland into the United Kingdom in a coercive act of Union. Hence Union Bridge I reckon and if so a title full of resonance.

Collyhurst in the next 200 years would absorb thousands of poor Irish migrants. Perhaps given the name Dantzic Street and the numbers of Polish immigrants too, the echoes are even more pleasing. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

Getting to the start of this walk and travelling around

The most direct way from the city centre is by bus to the cemetery from Shudehill Transport Interchange on the 17 bus. The best way is by tram to Monsall Metrolink station and then via the short walk along Lathbury Street (turn left and first right out of the station). I took a Brompton bike from Brompton Dock at Piccadilly and then caught the tram to Monsall Station. Overall distance from Manchester General Cemetery is around two miles with the diversions and deviations on this route.


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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Clare GallawayDecember 29th 2013.

Smashing article, little-known and interesting facts, great stuff.

Anne EdwardsDecember 29th 2013.

Thoroughly enjoyed that, thank you!

nowtynowtDecember 29th 2013.

Great piece, but what was the year of the train crash?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldDecember 29th 2013.

1953 ta

Ste DysonDecember 31st 2013.

On the train crash a few years we covered it in the company Newsletter and we ended up reuniting a man called Jeremy Halls with the person who pulled him from the water on that day. You can download it from www.hmgpaint.com/…/NWL0008.pdf…

Audrey WrightDecember 29th 2013.

Done this walk many times and played in the in these places as a child. Shame the area has gone down so much. But what is the building work going on in the Sandhills area.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldDecember 29th 2013.

Sewage pipe development Audrey

Graeme WrightDecember 29th 2013.

Another superb article. Mr Schofield has the knack of bringing history to life and investing it with passion, interest and colour. Look forward to the concluding part.

Friends of Angel MeadowDecember 29th 2013.

The Impossible Bridge was known locally as Barney’s Steps. MCC Local Image Collection has some great historical images of the area. Just type "Collyhurst Road" into the search engine: images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php… Unfortunately the "city planners" of today have recently sanctioned the building of a couple of cheap residential towers by the river- seemingly inspired by the failed attempts of the 1960/70’s as though they may represent some kind of progress. No obligation has been put on the developers to invest anything in the wider area to create the green corridor proposed by the Irk Valley Millennium Trail.

crisbyDecember 29th 2013.

Fascinating article, I'll be following in your footsteps imminently! Speaking as a planner (not employed by, and not a fan of, today's MCC planning dept.) I'd like to offer one correction; not sure why you blame planners for the reprehensible destruction of the Harpurhey cemetery buildings. The decision would have been taken by the buildings' owners - the Parks Department I should think - planners would probably not have been involved. Planners did however lead on the reclamation of the lower Irk Valley, and perhaps should be credited for that. Friends of the Angel Meadow, you are spot on; a lot of recent development in central Manchester has been depressingly reminiscent of the worst of the tat put up in the 60s.

Ed GlinertDecember 29th 2013.

Great piece, but it's not right to say Allen, Larkin & O'Brien "became known by the Irish as the Manchester Martyrs." Only amongst Catholics. Irish Protestants have a different view.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
StephenDecember 30th 2013.

But thats very much a minority view Ed. The article is fair in its representation of the Irish on the Manchester Martyrs. I take your point, but I really don't believe that the Protestant view in any way reflects the Irish on this matter. That would be the tail wagging the dog!

Tim MartinJanuary 4th 2014.

I am pretty certain that "Irish Protestants" such as Parnell (leader of the Irish Nationalist MPs or "Home Rulers" of the time) would have called these men The Manchester Martyrs. Not all Irish Protestants (North or South, then or now) are Unionists.

Steven MooreDecember 30th 2013.

u never no whats hideing round ware u live

SuzanneDecember 31st 2013.

Thanks, that's such an interesting article. More like that please

PeeksDecember 31st 2013.

Does the Brompton Dock provide bags for the bikes? I ask as I've seen a tram driver refuse to set off with a Brompton on board as it wasn't in a "specialist bike bag".

paulsouthernDecember 31st 2013.

I know HMG make paints but the ship (which I thought was a submarine until now?) was much better looking in its bare metal years. Get the paint remover out HMG!

DavidJanuary 2nd 2014.

This is ridiculous.

Anne TuckerJanuary 3rd 2014.

fantastic article Jonathan, many thanks for writing it ... and exploring this very interesting area. In 1978 I was involved in a community arts project based in Collyhurst - initially in the flats East of Rochdale Rd - where Collyhurst Estate now is - and then for 10 years or so we rented an abandoned primary school known as The Tin School - brilliant 1920/30's(?) design - single storey with sunken garden in the middle. We had to leave it in the end as the building was ridden with asbestos and demolished. We used the Impossible Bridge often (everyone called it Barneys steps, we never established from local residents who Barney was) and we used to drive up the tiny back road along the Irk, past the submarine - something we used to show people often! I presume that a lot more greenery has grown up as your photo is a lot less impressive than it used to be in reality. You havent credited the artist, who was Jonathan Woolfenden. One of our team drove her car into the Irk when it was badly swollen one winter, and narrowly escaped death (her car didnt). It IS one of manchester's hidden wilderness areas, but i dread the day the developpers get their hands on it all ...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 4th 2014.

Good stuff Anne glad you liked it but of course I mentioned the artist - tis right there.

trinityboyJanuary 4th 2014.

Can't believe this area, I thought I knew it, but I knew none of this. I went on a walk all round here organised by the Manchester Ramblers group the day before this article went up and we were stunned. I for one can't believe I've never been over that enormous footbridge!

Pat KarneyJanuary 6th 2014.

Fantastic piece Kept re reading it over Christmas I was brought up on Collyhurst Rd so know all the locations but like many did not know the rich history You don't read about Collyhust a lot so this makes this piece extra special.

James SmithJanuary 6th 2014.

Thank heaven we have learnt from the mistakes of the past and we now ensure that non of our heritage is unnecessarily lost by short sighted planners. Oh...

Kerenza McClarnanJanuary 8th 2014.

Hi Jonathan - as part of Buddleia's artist in residence commission the artist Andrew Dodds has been exploring the Irk Valley River. We too have found some of these spaces fascinating and surprisingly hidden. You can see some of that work on www.buddleia.co.uk…

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 9th 2014.

Kerenza, enjoyed reading about the Buddleia site there

Friends of Angel MeadowMarch 25th 2014.

The Council Executive in its wisdom has put forward a plan to bulldoze the Sandhills Park and flog it off to housing developers- blithely regarding it as merely an expensive-to-maintain landfill site rather than an integral part of the Irk Valley Millennium "Green City Lung" to Heaton Park, and beyond. Potentially another green space lost to the city whilst a strategy to bring back actual redundant post-industrial space in the city and stitch together the torn fabric isn’t presented. As you say Jonathan, those “dreaming planners again!” The Council will need to hold a Public Consultation so there may be an opportunity to change the current environmentally-concreted mindset within the Council, and actually create sustainable residential city living quarters that people choose to live in. Here’s truly dreaming!

4 Responses: Reply To This...
TomMarch 25th 2014.

Not seen this in the news, do you have a link to the plan?

Jonathan SchofieldMarch 26th 2014.

I'll ask the Council press office the question

Friends of Angel MeadowMay 15th 2014.

Collyhurst Regeneration "Consultation" ends Friday 16th May (Tomorrow). Aside of building on Sandhills Park, plans also suggesting further reduction of green space at the Collyhurst Village Park can be viewed here: bit.ly/1lO7WkG…... with a brief and heavily loaded tick box response document here: bit.ly/QGskHP…

AnonymousMay 15th 2014.

Have not seen the plans but experience of other parts of urban manchester tells me there is green space and green space. I would much rather see quality green soace overlooked by properly scaled buildings making it feel safe and usable rather than preserving all green space everywhere for the sake of it. Rationalising and building on existing green space can be justified if it helps make the whole neighbourhood work better. Quality not quantity.

Friends of Angel MeadowMay 15th 2014.

Inner city Manchester is almost entirely devoid of functional green space and subsequently fails all safe levels of air quality & pollution. This has chronic health effects on its residents (already some of the poorest in the EU), as Jonathan mentions in the article. Instead of obliterating carbon-absorbing trees alongside previously landscaped (albeit poorly managed) green areas, Sandhills Park and a rejuvenated Irk Valley Trail should form the CENTRE of genuine “regeneration” of the Lower Irk Valley and Collyhurst Village). There should first be strategies for building on the numerous existing Brownfield plots (many cleared for previously stalled “regeneration” schemes) which make areas like Collyhurst disconnected from the city core. Manchester has not run out of vacant development plots which necessitates exploiting the little green space we have, but instead is held to ransom by absentee land bankers whose economic inactivity stymies the potential to alter the post-war errors of previous Town Planners and reconnect the half-finished developments of each political generation. This should be the focus of MCC “Masterplanning” a better city not flogging off public parkland for more incoherently designed communities which changes little.

Pat KarneyMay 18th 2014.

Took the tour with quite a crowd. Fantastic experience all round especially if you are interested in working class and industrial history. Been around Collyhurst and Harpurhey most of my life but learnt and saw places,history and events I had never come across. Our guide, JS, who sets quite a pace, really researched the tour. We all enjoyed ourselves and had a fascinating time in areas so pivotal to Manchester's history. Thanks Pat

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hero
GordoMay 19th 2014.

He does set quite a pace Pat, I've taken to calling a cab to following him round

WattsyNovember 8th 2014.

Hi Jonathan fantastic article! Being Collyhurst Born n Bred I found the article more than interesting. I was brought up in a mixed marriage one day in the mid fifties I went to Saint Oswald's now Saviours the next day went to Saint Malachys, times were hard but eh we all shared everything we had, my first ever Toy Railway I thought I owned was in the shop window of Hoskins on Rochdale Road you had to put an Halfpenny in the slot to watch the Train go around on its journey. We had some great adventures on the Sandhills & Barney's Tip taking the 99 Steps as we kids called them up n over the Bridge, we would come home shattered having caused no harm to anyone but I may add a slightly different colour than when we started out some of us Blue Red or Orange from the Dye works!! Queens Park was then a real delight and treasure, it is so sad to see what has happened to the majority of parks through a lack of resource. From our Flat in Burgin Drive we spent hours playing in the sand park behind Willet Street police station, mixing with children of all denominations coming from Southern Central & Northern Drives, if ever there was any bad behaviour the "Parky" would would sort it!! Here's one little tale I will share Shudehill Market was an amazing place of activity where you could buy anything Live Poultry Rabbits Hens etc etc on this particular saturday morning me & a pal went down to the market on our own probably aged 8 / 9 I saw these cages full of Birds only to be told that they were special Racing Pigeons! I was fascinated by what this man was telling me that every time you let them out they would find there way home would you like to buy one? Full of excitement & awe I handed over all my spending money for what he described as the best bird he had!! I couldn't wait to get the bird home & out of the box and having an Electric three bar fire (we could only ever use 2) I had the unused Coal Bunker on our veranda to put the Pigeon in, the pigeon fancier as I no now also gave me a little food which he told me to place in his new home!! Unbeknown to my mum n dad the following morning I went to check on my new found friend & as soon as I opened the Coal bunker door the Pigeon flew out, I waited & waited for my friends return & as the guy said once he got hungry he would return! I was inconsolable after a few days waiting for my friends return, and having shared the story with my Dad he assured me that on the Saturday coming we would see the Bird again. Saturday arrived & we went down to Shudehill Market & sure as eggs are eggs the same guy with the same birds including mine were there!! To this day I do not no what my father said, but shortly after some finger pointing my father received some paper money far more than what I had paid and promptly gave it to me whilst trying to explain that let this be a lesson in life young man never trust anyone!! The Pigeon Fancier was never at the Market again, I wander why :)

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