Friday, 6 January 2017

Today I walked the old road ........ part two

The road twists and turns following the old field divisions and natural obstacles before running up beside the river bank.

Junction of the Gore [Chorlton] Brook, 1963
This was our first warning of the power of the Mersey. For here there is no gentle river bank sloping down to the water’s edge.

 Instead the road hugs a towering bank built and added to over the centuries as the main defence against a powerful threat to the lives and livelihoods of all those who lived beside it. Generations of farmers have laboured to construct this natural wall to repel the flood waters of the Mersey.

The village and the isolated farms were all built beyond the flood plain. Even so this was not always sufficient protection. The Mersey has on countless occasions risen and breached these towering banks sometimes even sweeping away the defences themselves.

It was for this reason that the weir was built. Just beyond the point where the Brook joins the Mersey and at a bend in the river the weir was built to divert flood water from the Mersey down channels harmlessly out to Stretford and the Kicketty Brook.

Not that it always worked. Soon after it had been built flood water swept it away and during the nineteenth century neither the weir nor the heightened river banks prevented the Mersey bursting out across the plain.

 In July 1828 the Mersey flood water transported hay ricks from the farm behind Barlow Hall down to Stretford only later to bring them back, while later floods proved to be even more destructive. It was, wrote Thomas Ellwood the local historian
“no uncommon thing to see the great level of green fields completely covered with water presenting the appearance of a large lake , several miles in circuit.”

Painting; Junction of Gore Brook and River Mersey, 1963, M80140, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,

Montogomery is incorrect, at the point where it joins the Mersey it has become Chorlton Brook

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