Thursday, 6 October 2016

Out on the meadows sometime on a wet winter’s day with Chorltonville in the distance

We are out on the meadows sometime on a wet winter’s day with Chorltonville in the distance.  

It is another of those vanished scenes which I guess will be sometime during second two decades of the last century.  I am fairly certain of that because the estate was completed in 1911, and later the land was being used as a tip.

So it perfectly captures what this part of the flood plain would have looked like and how it was farmed. *

What we now call the meadows was a vast stretch of land from the edge of the village on either side of the brook up to the Mersey, and some was farmed as real meadow land which involved regularly flooding it and managing the water flow to ensure that the grass grew up earlier than the surrounding pasture land.

And this may be the origin of the well known belief that old farmer Higginbotham deliberately flooded one of his field for skating.  Now this is unlikely as the expert advice was that to prevent damage to the grass the water should be drained off before the frost.  Now this warning comes from my old friend Henry Stephens whose book on farming was written in the 1840s and which helped me unlock so much about how we farmed the township in the mid 19th century.  So it is more likely that the ice had got to the field before he could drain the water.

Looking again at our picture most of what you can see was meadowland, in fact back in the 1840s when the township was surveyed two thirds of the land stretching from Hardy Farm down towards the village and south to the river was described as meadows.


Picture; from the collection of Alan Brown

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