Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Chorlton Brook, meadow land and a winters day

Chorlton Brook can seem a pleasant and benign bit of water.

Come across it on a warm summer’s day as it flows under the Brookburn Bridge and it looks pretty peaceful.

And when the children were young it was a favourite walk of ours, following its course past “secret pathways” and on to where it joins the Mersey.

Of course all the land on either side has changed dramatically and what you see now is a product of tipping and landscaping.

My friend David often rails against the policy of tree planting that has been undertaken over the years.

After all, everything you can see from the Brook to the river was until recently farmed as meadow land.*

Meadowland is grassland that is kept damp by the use of ditches called carriers worked by sluice gates fed from a river.

The skill is to keep the land fed with water up to an inch in depth through from October to January, for about fifteen to twenty days at a time before allowing the water to run off into the drainage ditches.

The land must then be left to dry out for 5-6 days so that the air can get to the grass.  The early watering took advantage of the autumnal floods which brought with them a mix of nutrients and silt which enriched the land.

In 1845 there were 680 acres of meadow and pasture compared to 490 arable acres and 10 of woodland.

But all of that has gone, and now pretty much the only reminder of what went on is the Brook and even that has changed.

So here are two of Andy Robertson’s picture taken sometime in the 1990s when the brook was in full flow.

Pictures; from the collection of Andy Robertson

*Remembering the meadows in the 1940s ..... the power of oral testimony,

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