|The Meadows as they were|
You see I was at school in the 1940s and we did our cross country runs from the Mersey at Jackson’s Boat to Hardy Farm.
It was before they began putting rubbish on the meadows, and I remember the grass as brilliant green and very lush. What’s more the level of the land was much lower than now. And then they began putting all sorts including bits of brick where once we ran.”
Such is the power of oral testimony, because in just a few minutes I was taken back to a time when the meadows were truly meadows and farmed as such.
I had been talking about the policy of the City Council to tip on the flood plain. It was a practice well under way by the late 1930s and extravagant claims were made that this was new and proven to be the best method of refuse disposal which had the added advantage of building up the land to act as a defence against flooding from the Mersey.
Now the programme in the late 30s’ had been on the land further east and I was fairly sure that our bit of Chorlton did not get its infill till much later.
|The meadows circa 1900|
It was the sort of information the historian likes, for here was someone who had lived it and whose memory of events could be set against the paper trails and official records.
It also sat with the pictorial evidence which showed the meadows as an area of grassland and irrigation ditches which allowed water to be placed on the land for a set period of time to assist the growth of new grass.
|Boat meadow a bridge across a ditch circa 1900|
I doubt we will ever know who any of the people are and for once what has caught my attention is not the collection of Sunday trippers, but the land itself which is perfectly flat and just right for meadow farming.
|Land suitable for meadowland, circa 1900|
What is all the more remarkable is that some stretches of the meadows survived well into the 1960s and a decade before were still being farmed.
This is the Old Road, Hawthorn Lane as it heads out across Turn Moss and I guess it looks pretty much as it had done for over a century and more.
|The Old Road and meadow land circa 1950|
Now I am not arguing for a return to what was that I fully accept has gone, but listening to my friend I can at least have some idea of what once was.
Location; Chorlton-cum-Hardy Manchester
Pictures; from the Lloyd Collection