River Irwell: #surprisingsalford #14

River Irwell Jan 2017 (2).JPG
A misty River Irwell in winter sunshine

The river Irwell winds its way around Salford in deep meanders.  I think that a river can make or break a city, they are great places for strolling along and sitting beside and messing about on.  Salford [and Manchester too] certainly doesn’t make enough of its river until it becomes the Manchester Ship Canal at Salford Quays where it is celebrated, used for recreation and enjoyed.  The Irwell is only 39 miles long, rising near Bacup in Lancashire, the river comes in to Greater Manchester in Bury and makes its way through Salford from Clifton Country Park.

Rivers are interesting because they are always changing.  We have walked along the river in spring and summer, watching the Canada Geese, the black-headed gulls and the various ducks and stood and watched the boats on the quays.  On Christmas Day a few years ago we followed the Irwell from Salford to the Manchester boundary and back to the Quays and on Boxing Day in 2015, horrified, we watched the swollen river as it flooded large areas of Salford, including people’s homes.

Mr BOTRA would cross the Irwell on his way to work in Manchester and he usually stopped on the bridge to see what wildlife was around.  On many days he would spot a bright blue and green kingfisher flitting along the river bank.  The Irwell was once a salmon river but pollution in the 19th century and in to the first half of the 20th century left a river that was lifeless.  As industries have closed and the cleanup of the river undergone and restocked, the Irwell is now able to sustain many fish eating birds and we often see cormorants and herons on our walks along the banks.

I have a dream that one day Salford City Council will decide to make more of its riverside location beyond Salford Quays and they will close off Chapel Street to traffic, creating a huge square between The Old Pint Pot and Salford University.  In my dream this square will have open views with steps down to the river and Peel Park and a bridge crossing the Irwell over to the meadow.  People will gather here on sunny evenings and fine weekends, sit outside cafes enjoying the view accompanied by good food or a drink, young people will sit on the steps or practice on their skateboards, families will promenade around the paths, children gleefully running up and down the steps and they will all feel lucky to be living in such a beautiful city.