MTVCA WALK 21/03/10

After a grey and rainy day yesterday, seven of us were met with beautiful sunshine at Oaken Clough this morning before we set off on our Spring Walk, with a spring in our step, to Park Bridge. Bryan, Paul H, Judith, David, Doreen, Anne, Susan and - Molly Blue - the cute dog of one of our newest members, Anne.

The recent work done in the area was obvious as we approached. New gravel paths had been laid and reed beds had been planted to filter the oxide which had drained into the river from the grounds of the iron works surrounding it, which was proving quite effective. Also, many small willow trees had been planted and staked and were now just beginning to bud. The river banks too had been reinforced with stones in netting to keep the soft ground back from falling into the river.

Park Bridge was a bustling, noisy centre of industry a hundred years ago. It is difficult to imagine now, as it has become a quiet backwater between Ashton under Lyne and Oldham. There were a number of small collieries around Park Bridge, at Rocher Vale to the east and Fairbottom to the west, sending out their coal by means of a tram road to Fenny Fields Bridge, where the coal was loaded onto narrowboats on the Fairbottom Branch of the Ashton Canal.

The Lees family began developing iron works at Park Bridge in 1747. They also built housing and other facilities for their workers. The remains of a later rolling mill and cotton mill which were built close to the railway viaduct can still be seen.

We went stopped of at "Fairbottom Bobs," which was an interesting piece of industrial history. Fairbottom Bobs was, in fact, a Newcomen atmospheric engine - a very early steam engine. It was built here, in an area known as Fairbottom, possibly around 1760, to pump water out of the Cannel coal pits, which were about 200 feet deep. The name arose from the bobbing motion of the wooden beam.

Bryan was very knowledgeable about the area and history of Park Bridge (and reminded us it was here, at the iron works, that the rivets for the Titanic and the Eiffel Tower were made!).

Paul H had brought some rubbish grippers, gloves and black bin bags so we could collect rubbish lying around the paths and then drop them into allocated recycling bins when the walk was over. We collected 3 full bags!

We called into the heritage centre to have a bite to eat and a coffee and then set on our way back to Oaken Clough.

Another enjoyable and informative day.

Members collecting for walk

Members collecting for walk

Anne & Molly Blue

Anne & Molly Blue