Oldham Historical Research Group

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LANCASHIRE - Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes
by Leo H. Grindon
Pub. 1892

Oldham Historical Research Group - LANCASHIRE - Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes by by Leo H. Grindon  Pub. 1892

pages 100-101

100                 Illustrations of Lancashire

nearly level, the country being here bordered by the Mersey, a river, as Pennant long ago remarked, utterly devoid along its course of the charms usually identified with fairly broad and winding streams. At Northen there are some pleasant shaded pathways, with willows and poplars like those upon which Ĺ’none was carved; but the bank, if much above the level, is artificial, the original having been raised with a view to protecting the adjacent fields from inundation in time of floods, such as occur not infrequently - the Mersey being formed in the beginning by the confluence of several minor streams, which gather their waters from the moors and the Derbyshire hills, and are apt to be well filled and of rapid movement.
At a few miles' distance in other directions, or receding from the Mersey, the ground becomes slightly elevated, and in parts agreeably broken, as at Prestwich, and near Heywood, where there are numberless little dells and ravines, ferny and full of trees. These are a pleasant change after the flatness on the Cheshire side, but are too far away to be called Manchester. To the Mersey Manchester makes no claim: three other rivers are distinctly its own - the Irwell, which divides the town from Salford, with its tributaries, the Medlock, and the lrk; and of these, though

Manchester                  101

the colour is inexpressible, unless we go to mythology for a term, it is proud, since no three rivers in the world do harder work. All three pass their earlier life in valleys which in the bygones must have been delightful, and in some parts romantic. Traditions exist to this day of the times when in their upper reaches they were "silver-eddied." For a long distance before entering, and all the way while passing through, they have now for many years been converted into scavengers; the trout, once so plentiful, are extinct; there are water-rats instead. This, perhaps, is inevitable in a district which, though once green and tranquil, has been transformed into an empire of workshops.
The Manchester rivers do not stand alone in their illustration of what can be accomplished by the defiling energy of "works." In the strictly manufacturing parts of South Lancashire it would be difficult to find a single watercourse of steady volume that any longer "makes music with the enamelled stones." The heroine of Verona
1 would to-day be impelled less to poetical similes than to epitaphs: no sylvan glade, however hidden, if there be water in it, has escaped the visitation of the tormentors. Are we then to murmur? - to

1 Two Gentlemen, ii. 7.

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