11 Historic facts about the River Irwell

The Irwell is a significant feature to Greater Manchester and it’s history is renown across the world.

Natural Course hopes to focus predominantly on the River Irwell in the first stage of the programme, pulling together organisations in the area to plan and implement improvement measures to help the water quality of the catchment.

Here are a couple of facts to impress a few people over the dinner table:

  1. The Irwell’s source is on the moors above Bacup. It flows through Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom and Bury before joining the Mersey.

  2. Last recorded salmon in the Irwell was in 1850.

  3. In 1971 the Angling Society obtained fishing rights and it was confirmed that the water quality was improving, resulting in sightings of Roach and Perch.

  4. When Greater Manchester was formed in 1974 Salford was almost called Irwell. But the name was dropped after protests as the River Irwell flowed through two other boroughs and did not go through Worsley.

  5. In 1981, Manchester Evening news released a report headlined: “Fish in the Irwell… it’s true!”.

  6. The Manchester viaduct uses 11 million bricks – end-to-end they would stretch to Madrid and back.

  7. Queen Victoria opened the ship canal in 1894 and was set up to accommodate ocean-going vessels to navigate their way from the Irish Sea into the industrial heart of Manchester.

  8. In 2001 a compressed air injection system was introduced to improve water quality in Salford Quays resulting in a significant increase in fish species.

  9. Manchester Ship Canal is one of the top ten sites in Britain for diving ducks and home to 2,000 tufted ducks.

  10. Many believe the Irwell originates from the Anglo-Saxon term erewell meaning “white spring”.

  11. The first ford on the Irwell was built by the romans in AD79 at Cornbrook using rectangular stone blocks.

    Fact source: 1: River Guide, 2: Irwell Rivers Trust, 3: M.E.N, 4: M.E.N, 5: Revolvy.com, 6: M.E.N, 7: M.E.N, 8: Apem Ltd, 9: M.E.N, 10: Revolvy.com, 11: On the Irwell


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