Sunday, 15 January 2017

In search of the Rough Leech Gutter

Every winter we get the Edge Lane Lake which depending on the amount of rain that has fallen can either be a puddle or some quite extraordinary expanse of water.

Not that I ever gave it much thought but more recently it has seemed to me that this is the Rough Leech Gutter.

It’s there on the old maps from the 1840s and runs from St Werburghs, following a line which takes in Corkland Road before cutting down close to the Four Banks and heading off towards Edge Lane and on to Turn Moss.

On its course and in its time it would have provided water for Pit Brow and Clough Farms as well as the grand house at Oak Bank before emptying into a large pond by Turn Moss Farm.  Already by 1841 a small section where it crossed High Lane and Edge Lane was culverted and it may just be that this now very old brick or stone culvert is the cause for the “lake.”

And there were lots of them.

All now have vanished underground with the exception of Chorlton Brook which appears into the light at various points around Chorlton before flowing into the Mersey.

There are some that crossed what is now Chorlton Park, another which seems to have flowed close to Acres Road and others which were probably no more than ditches for most of the year.

A few might have dried up but the others will still be there quietly and unobtrusively trickling along, hidden and forgotten.

And by and large they are just that.  I asked the Corporation for any records and they passed me on the Environmental Agency who were very helpful and very thorough but could only tell me about the Chorlton and Longford Brooks.

Not that this should surprise us for many of these water courses will have gone underground from the 1840s through to the beginning of the 20th century.

There may be records in the papers of the Egerton and Lloyd estates who owned most of the township, but I doubt there will be any other records. 

So in the absence of paperwork it’s down to looking at that maps and listening to people’s experiences, which is how I can be fairly certain that the Rough Leech Gutter follows close to the line of Wilbraham Road somewhere by Silverwood Avenue going under Brundretts Road before appearing at Edge Lane.  And it was a chance remark that I made on one of my recent walks and talks which prompted Tony who lives on Brundretts to tell me of the damp cellars at one end of the road.

And damp cellars are a possible clue.  But there are others.  Phillip Lloyd once told me that his mother could remember the sound of Longford Brook which flows further north and west of the township as it made its way underground.  But as he said to hear it you had to be up early have no surrounding noise and hope for a day of rain the evening before.

Still they are all there and I suppose the best I can say they are all in the book.

Pictures; detail of the 1841 OS for Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archives, and the collection of Andrew Simpson

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