River restoration and redressing physical modification: Redress physical modifications by linking with built / industrial heritage management


The watercourses of the NW River Basin District, and especially those in Greater Manchester, have been heavily modified since the start of the Industrial Revolution.  Many historic structures, created for now redundant industrial processes, present barriers to natural heritage protection and EU Water Framework Directive compliance. These issues are especially concentrated in the urban watercourses of Greater Manchester – an area with a rich industrial heritage that lay at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

What we are doing

Natural Course will address this issue on Bradshaw and Eagley Brooks and the River Tonge, tributaries of the River Croal, through:

  • The removal of a small weir at Hall’i’th’Wood on the Eagley Brook and the removal of a larger structure at the Meeting of the Waters site on the River Tonge. These practical activities will be supported by resources provided by the Environment Agency alongside Natural Course funds.
  • The development of a shared vision and integrated action plan for Bradshaw Brook to increase the provision of ecosystem services within the waterbody based on a natural capital approach. This activity is funded by Natural Course and delivered by the Irwell catchment partnership host.

Who else is involved?

Groundwork Greater Manchester has delivered the practical works on Eagley Brook and the River Tonge, and is producing the shared vision and integrated action plan for Bradshaw Brook.

The Environment Agency has provided technical assistance and the necessary permits for the practical works as well as financial resources to remove the weirs.

Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (part of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council) has provided technical ecological and wildlife advice whilst the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service provided technical archaeological and heritage support for the work on Eagley Brook.

Project location

The River Croal catchment in Greater Manchester.

Latest update

The removal of two weirs has now been completed. Work to produce an integrated action plan to enhance the natural capital value of Bradshaw Brook is on-going.