I recently spent a day in Manchester, and we had a few hours to spare in the morning before our departure by train. We wandered down the Rochdale to Castlefield, me boring T with tales of how his mum and I used to walk down these towpaths in the late 80s plotting to buy the old warehouses and convert them. Our exploration of Castlefields was hastened by the constant drizzle...
"It's this climate that actually encouraged the development of the cotton industry here. The dampness made it particularly easy to work the material"
"Dad, I don't care. I'm getting wet!"
The Science Museum was closed so we headed into town - via Waterstones - and sat warmly in Starbucks I read in one book about the Irwell and how it had once been used for navigation to Hunts Bank.
Since then, I have found virtually nothing in detail about the Irwell. The Nicholsons simply ignore it altogether, as they ignore the Ship Canal.
On returning home, I went straight to the TNC website to see what they thought of it. If there was a canal that had been opened for just 15 minutes in Burkino Faso (the Ouagadougou & Keadby perhaps), the TNC will have been up it, photographed it and moaned about the lack of real ale. Sure enough, the TNC provide the only commentary on the Irwell. They have done it not once, but twice.
It is a great pity that given the Irwell's central location and the possibility for it to form a massive water feature for the centre of Manchester, as the Thames and Seine do for London and Paris respectively.
I intend to return to Manchester soon to explore the Irwell, although I lack the courage of the TNC to take North Star up to Hunts Bank.
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