River Irwell

River Irwell

name = River Irwell
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image_caption = The River Irwell at Salford, looking towards Manchester City Centre
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source_location = Cliviger, Lancashire
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The River Irwell is a river flowing through the Irwell Valley in the counties of Lancashire and Greater Manchester in England. It is one of several rivers that helped facilitate the Industrial Revolution in North West England, as a result of which it became severely polluted during the 19th century.

The river's source is at Irwell Springs on Deerplay Moor, about convert|1.5|mi|km north of Bacup, in the parish of Cliviger, Lancashire. The Irwell flows through (and separates) the city centres of Manchester and Salford, before joining the River Mersey.


The River Irwell is about convert|39|mi|km in length. [ [http://www.chalk-ndc.info/ndc_may_jun041-2.pdf NDC newletter issue 9 May-June 04] Retrieved on 2008-03-21] Rising on the moors above Cliviger the Irwell flows south through Bacup, Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom and Bury before merging with the River Roch near Radcliffe. Turning west it is joined by the River Croal near Farnworth and runs south east through Kearsley, Clifton and Agecroft then meanders around Lower Broughton and Kersal, Salford Crescent and the centre of Manchester, joining the rivers Irk and Medlock. Again turning west, from Salford, it meets the Mersey south of Irlam, where the route of the river was altered in the late 19th century to form part of the course of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Natural History

Before the Industrial Revolution the Irwell was well stocked with fish, and the people who lived in the houses near Manchester Cathedral drew flagons of water from it for drinking and other domestic purposes. However, in the 19th century chemicals from the expanding industries poured into the river in increasing amounts. These pollutants were fatal to fish, the last of which were seen about 1850. [Bracegirdle p.19]

Despite its industrial past, fish stocks in the River Irwell are improving and brown trout are becoming an increasingly common sight. Coarse fish now predominate throughout the river's course and beyond into the Manchester Ship Canal. Water fowl, herons and cormorants are also resident on the river. New problems became apparent with the redevelopment of the Salford Quays area of the Manchester Ship Canal. Years of runoff from sewers and roads had accumulated in the slow running waters of this area and decomposition of the organic matter was causing oxygen depletion. In 2001 a compressed air injection system was introduced, which raised the oxygen levels in the water by up to 300%. The resulting improvement in water quality has led to an increase in the number of invertebrate species, such as freshwater shrimp, to more than 30. Spawning and growth rates of fish species such as roach and perchhave also increased to such an extent that they are now amongst the highest in England. [cite web|url= http://www.mangeogsoc.org.uk/egm/5_1.pdf|accessdate=2007-12-11|date=2003-08-21|format=pdf|title= Exploring Greater Manchester — a fieldwork guide: The fluvioglacial gravel ridges of Salford and flooding on the River Irwell|author= Hindle, P.(1998)|publisher=Manchester Geographical Society p.13 ]

Two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are located close to the banks of the Irwell where it flows through Moses Gate Country Park, between Prestolee and Little Lever. The first is Nob End, an 8.8 hectare (21.7 acre) site which has been designated because of its biological interest, based on the predominance of flora typical of limestone grassland including some nationally rare herbs and orchids. Nob End is also designated as a Local Nature Reserve. This alkaline soil habitat was formed by the dumping of toxic alkaline waste from the Leblanc process between 1850 and 1870, which subsequently weathered into calcium carbonate, permitting the establishment of chalk-loving vegetation. Limestone grassland is not normally found in Greater Manchester, and many of these species are not found elsewhere in the county. [cite web | title=Nob End citation sheet | url=http://www.english-nature.org.uk/citation/citation_photo/1003648.pdf | work=English Nature | accessdate=2007-02-24|format=PDF] [http://biohorizons.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/1/1/61 Retrieved on 2008-05-18] The second site is Ashclough, a site of geological interest that is described below in the Geology section. These two SSSIs are among the 21 found in Greater Manchester.

In Salford the river flows through Clifton Country Park and Kersal Dale Country Park, both of which have been designated as a Local Nature Reserves (LNRs). [http://www.salford.gov.uk/leisure/parks/countryparks/thecliff.htm Retrieved on 2008-01-28]


The Irwell is all that remains of the shallow seas that covered most of south-east Lancashire in the Upper Carboniferous era when deposits of mud and sand were laid down. These later became beds of shales and sandstones alternating with layers of gritstone. There are also beds of new red sandstone and Manchester Marls. [ Bracegirdle pp 15,16] The glaciers of the Pleistocene period further shaped the landscape and then retreated, leaving behind deposits of sand, pebbles and boulder clay that formed the fluvioglacial ridges of the Irwell Valley. [cite web|url= http://www.mangeogsoc.org.uk/egm/5_1.pdf|accessdate=2007-12-11|date=2003-08-21|format=pdf|title= Exploring Greater Manchester — a fieldwork guide: The fluvioglacial gravel ridges of Salford and flooding on the River Irwell|author= Hindle, P.(1998)|publisher=Manchester Geographical Society] Ashclough, a 5.8 hectare (14.3 acre) site which comprises the steep banks of the river between Prestolee and Little Lever, has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its geological interest, primarily because it is the best site in the area displaying Ashcough Marine Band and its associated strata. Ashclough is a site of national importance for interpreting the coal measure paleogeography of Great Britain. [cite web | title=Ashclough citation sheet | url=http://www.english-nature.org.uk/citation/citation_photo/1003262.pdf | work=English Nature | accessdate=2007-02-24|format=PDF]


The origins of the name Irwell are uncertain but many accept the Anglo-Saxon origin: Ere-well, meaning "hoar or white spring". [Bracegirdle p.24]

The first known human settlements were those of the Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, who farmed the uplands and lower reaches of the river. In 79 AD the Romans conquered these tribes, built forts at the confluences of the Irwell and the rivers Irk and Medlock, calling the town Mamucium. [Bracegirdle pp.16,17] They also built a ford with rectangular stone blocks at Cornbrook, which is thought to be the first man-made structure to span the river. [ Brereton p.6] and built their villas along the river. For four hundred years the Pax Romana brought peace, but the Romans withdrew in 410 AD leaving the tribes to be overun by the Saxons who renamed the town Manigceastre. The Danes seized, and all-but destroyed, Manigceastre and the tribes were dispersed or absorbed by the Danes. The Danelaw ruled until 920 AD when the Norsemen were expelled by Edward the Elder. [ Bracegirdle p.18] [cite book| last = Parkinson-Bailey | first = John J | authorlink = John J Parkinson Bailey | title = Manchester: An Architectural History | publisher = Manchester University press | location = Manchester| pages = p2 | isbn = 978-0719056062 ]

In the Middle Ages the town, which was now known as Manceastre (later to become Manchester), grew and prospered and trading vessels plied along the river. [ Bracegirdle p.18]

During the Industrial Revolution factories, mills and terraced hovels grew up along the river banks. Edward Corbett, the Borough Engineer of Salford wrote in his book "The River Irwell" published in 1907, that his father had told him that, about 1819, he had seen from the New Bailey bridge, (now Albert Bridge) in the centre of Manchester "large shoals of fish, chiefly gudgeon but also other fish, were rising to the flies." Chemicals that were dumped in the river such as gas-tar, gas-lime and ammonia water were fatal to the fish and by 1850 stacks had all disappeared. In 1860 the Irwell was described as "almost proverbial for the foulness of its waters; receiving the refuse of cotton factories, coal mines,print works, bleach works, dye works,chemical works, paper works, almost every kind of industry." [ Bracegirdle pp.19] In the Victorian era passenger trips along the River Irwell from landing stages such as the ones at Manchester Cathedral Steps, were popular. "Sailings to Pomona Gardens were very popular with courting couples, who liked to watch the eel-catchers, admire views of Trafford Park Woodlands, and gaze at the peaceful farms and orchards. But the increasing smells from the river stopped it all". [cite book
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Greater Manchester: 125 Years Images from the Manchester Evening News
publisher = The Breendon Books
year = 1993
location =
pages = 21
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 1873626673
] The Rivers Pollution Prevention Act 1876 was designed to solve this problem, but it was largely ineffective. It did, however, lay the groundwork for the more draconian legislation which followed.

Since the late 19th century many attempts have made to improve the quality of the water in the Irwell. In 1891 the Mersey and Irwell Joint Committee was formed. This body ordered local authorities to provide sewage treatment facilities and industrial concerns were told to use the best practical means of preventing pollution. In 1939 this body was superseded by the Lancashire Rivers Board, but wartime conditions brought about further deterioration of the river. In 1951 the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act was passed and this board disappeared to be replaced by the Mersey River Board, which was replaced in turn by the Mersey and Weaver River Authority in 1965.

A report in the "Manchester Evening News" in 1971 said that Bury Angling Society had signed an agreement with Bury Corporation giving them fishing rights along four miles of the river between Summerseat and Radcliffe. The secretary of the society was quoted as saying:

Extensive tests have been carried out on fish we put in the river and we are satisfied that the water will support fish life. Roach and perch have already been caught and we have had no reports of any ill-effects. There is no doubt the pollution is clearing. It will be a long job, but we are sure there is a future for angling in the river.
The report went on to say that the society "intends to carry out stocking operations soon." ["Manchester Evening News" 3 December 1971]

It was reported in the "Manchester Evening News" in 1972 that tiddlers had been seen swimming in the "notorious inky Irwell" near Peel Park, Salford. The Deputy chief water quality officer for Salford, Mr. Eric Harper, said:

"Ten years ago, any fish getting as far down as Salford would have been killed almost immediately by the pollution in the water. Although the river there is now a great deal better than it has been for 100 years, fish will probably not be able to live long. These had probably got into the main river from small streams flowing into the Irwell. But I think it is real progress."
Mr Harper went on to say that the Irwell had been well stocked with fish along its whole length 100 years ago but refused to guess when it would reach the same state again. [ "Manchester Evening News": "Tiddlers give new hope for cleaner "inky Irwell" - but it will be a long time ahead. 25 November 1972]

In 1974 all the river authorities were merged into the Regional Water Authorities. [ Bracegirdle pp. 153-155] In the 1974 annual report of the North West Water Authority (NWWA) it was said that that the river "once internationally famous, or infamous as the epitome of river pollution, is now in a much better state as compared with its condition at the time of a special survey carried out nine years ago." ["Salford City Reporter" "Notorious" River Irwell could become a pleasant stream. 1974 page 7 (date unknown)] This was reported in an article in "The Manchester Evening News" on 26 October of that year which went on to say:

During nine years of pollution control work reviewed by the North West Water Authority, the biggest improvement had been in the Bolton District, where effluent from five dilapidated sewage plants and two paper mills were now being treated at the Ringley Fold Works [but] there has been little reduction in pollution from the river Roch. At Bacup the headwater of the Irwell is discoloured by ochre deposits from a disused mine but work is being done to stop the ochre seepage. Fish do exist in the stretch between Rossendale and Bury and fish are to be introduced in stretches between Radcliffe and Manchester. However, it is feared that it will be many years before fish will be able to breed freely in the river ["Manchester Evening News" Fishing in the Irwell — after 100 years 26 October 1974]

In 1980 a scheme for improving the stretch of the river for various forms of boating between Littleton Road and Adelphi Weir, in Salford, was included in Greater Manchester Policy Committee's capital programme for 1981/2. County Councillors at a recent committee meeting had criticised the state of the river, with the councillor for Oldham calling it "quite revolting and horrible". A spokesperson for the NWWA said that, although the river had a reputation for being polluted it was getting much better, but it still hadn't reached a state where they would be satisfied. She added that tests were being carried out to show the improved cleanliness of the Irwell and that 600 trout had recently been put in the river at Summerseat, near Bury. The proposals were welcomed by Salford University and Agecroft Rowing club with the University saying that they would like to use the stretch for their boat race. ["Salford City Reporter" Sailing down the Irwell on a Sunday afternoon 19 September 1980] Later that year, it was reported that hundreds of trees and shrubs were to be planted along the banks of the Irwell between Broughton and Pomona Dock, in a £650,000 "green finger" scheme to to "bring the countryside into the heart of industrial Salford" ["Manchester Evening News" Irwell revamp at £650,000 1 November 1980] The dossier outlining the scheme, prepared by Salford's Technical Services Officer, emphasised the "bleak character" of the Irwell Valley with "many constructions by the river that are decaying and rotting" and said "the main problems are caused by an excess of ammonia and a high organic content from sewage effluents which discharge into the water upstream". The report recommended that "even more support should be given to the NWWA in their pollution control of the River Irwell" ["West Manchester News" Improvement scheme looks a winner 14 November 1980]

During the 1980s, sightings of fish in the Irwell as far downstream as Manchester City Centre were being reported in local newspapers. In February 1981 the "Manchester Evening News" reported that "ten jacksharps, about two inches long" had been spotted by a site manager working on the Mark Addy public house, which was then being built on the disused New bailey landing Stage below New Bailey Street, on the border of Manchester and Salford. [Manchester Evening News Fish in the Irwell...it's true! 5 February 1981] Plans for using the river for recreation were also coming to fruition as it was reported in 1982 that, over the May Bank Holiday, the first pleasure cruise on the river in the 20th Century, would leave from the New Bailey Landing Stage as part of a three day experiment to see if river cruises could be a success. [ "Manchester Evening News" As Salford's sailors get ready to cruise down the Irwell 23 April 1982] Then, in 1983, more than 100 canal and river boats rode the flooded river for the Greater Manchester Waterways Festival, an event aimed at showing how pleasure boating could "transform the bleak waterway in the heart of Manchester" ["Manchester Evenng News" Tide turns for the Irwell 12 September 1983] By 1984 two local men felt the waters were clean enough for them to brave a ten mile charity fundraising swim from Clifton to Manchester, although they were warned a spokesman for the North West Water Authourity that the cocktail of effluent and occasional untreated sewage meant that the Irwell was still "a class 4 river - top of the pollution chart." ["Manchester Evening News": Taylor, Paul Where fish dare not swim 13 October 1984] In 1984 the Mersey Basin Campaign was announced. The campaign was to cover a large area, from Rossendale in the north to Crewe in the south and it was promised that £67m would be made available in the first three years for water and land based projects. [ "Salford City Reporter: " Mersey Basin cleanup campaign to reverse neglect and decline. June 1986] Then in 1985 The Croal-Irwell Valley local plan was launched which listed 187 proposals for the improvement of the valley. [Salford City Reporter: Plan to improve the area. 1st April 1985]

Since then there has been a gradual improvement in water quality, [cite web| last = Anon | title = Urban Regeneration in Manchester: Tranforming the “Dark River Irwell”|publisher = Environment Agency |url= http://www.merseybasin.org.uk/page.asp?page=1&pagesize=5&confirmed=1&id=2837&docid=190 -| format = pdf| accessdate = 2008-04-24 |p.5] and today wildlife is returning to the Irwell.

Mark Addy

One of the most famous characters associated with the river was Mark Addy, who was born in a tenement on The Parsonage near Blackfriars Bridge in Manchester, known as Stage Buildings. His father owned several racing boats and pleasure craft for hire on the river and, even before he learned to swim, young Mark had already saved two people from the water, one by floating out on a plank and the other by wading up to his neck in the river. He became a strong swimmer and, after he married, acquired a tavern on the Salford side of the river. Whenever anyone was in difficulties the cry would go up "Bring Mark Addy" and he would race to the rescue. He was awarded a number of medals including the gold and silver medals from the Humane Society for the Hundred of Salford, and the Royal Humane Society's bronze medal. In 1878 he became the only civilian ever to be awarded the Albert Medal (first class),Nicholls (2004), p. 64.] which was later superseded by the George Cross as the highest civilian or non-combat gallantry award in the British honours system. [ [http://www.iwm.org.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.940 Imperial War Museum: The George Cross] retrieved on 2008-08-27]

His last rescue was on Whit Monday 1889, when he saved a young boy from the river. He died of tuberculosis the following year, at the age of 51, by which time he had rescued over 50 people from the river. There is a large memorial to him in Weaste Cemetry, Salford. The Mark Addy Footbridge crosses the Irwell between Regent Road and Pomona Docks, the Mark Addy Award (a swimming trophy) and an oil painting of him in Peel Art Gallery wearing his medals. [Bracegirdle pp. 133–136.] There is also a public house, named "The Mark Addy", built on the New Bailey Landing stage on the Salford side of the river near New Bailey Street.


Mersey and Irwell Navigation

In the late 17th century, the Warrington businessman Thomas Patten, had made the River Mersey navigable as far as Warrington and suggested that there would be significant commercial value in extending this along the Irwell as far as Manchester. In 1721, Parliament authorised the alteration with the "Mersey and Irwell Navigation Act", and by 1736 work had been completed by creating eight canal locks along the convert|20|mi|km|0 route from Warrington to Manchester, allowing access to boats of up to convert|50|LT|t ST|0|lk=on. The waterway played a central role in the cotton industry of the 18th century that spear-headed the Industrial Revolution and was known as the Mersey & Irwell Navigation.

Bridgewater Canal

When James Brindley built the Bridgewater Canal, the task of crossing the Irwell Valley was one of the main obstacles he faced. His solution was to build a canal-carrying bridge across the river, the world's first commercially driven aqueduct. The bridge consisted of three arches, and measured convert|12|m|ft|0 high, convert|200|m|ft|0 long and convert|11|m|ft|0 wide. Upon its opening in 1761 it earned the nickname of "the Castle in the Air" and proved hugely successful in the industry of the area. The Mersey and Irwell Navigation and the Bridgewater Canal competed for trade to and from Manchester for the next 120 years and specially designed barges with a shallow draft, known as "Mersey flats", were used on both waterways. Over the years both trade and rivalry continued to grow with each company offering reduced freight charges or special rates and concessions to gain business from the other. The most important cargo carried was raw cotton from Liverpool to Manchester but timber, dyewoods, pig iron, lead, copper, nails, tar, sand, grain and flour were also carried. Passenger services had been operating on the Bridgewater Canal for some years and in 1807 the Irwell and Mersey Navigation Company began to compete with daily services between Runcorn and Manchester. In 1816 they began to use packet steamers, however, in 1830 the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened, packet boat services went into decline, and ceased to operate completely in the 1860s. [ [http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/m&i-nav/m&i-nav.htm History of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation] ] In Manchester two other canals used the Irwell as a point of access – the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal from 1809, and the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal from 1839. Both are now non-navigable however the former is under restoration.

Manchester Ship Canal

As the 19th century progressed, the increasing need for large freight carriers led to Liverpool's dominance as a port. Manchester became increasingly reliant on its Merseyside neighbour for its export industry but the handling charges and dues charged by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board made goods from Manchester uncompetitive. A solution was to build the Manchester Ship Canal. [cite book
last = Worthington
first = Barry
authorlink = Barry Worthington
coauthors =
title = Discovering Manchester: A walking guide to Manchester and Salford
publisher = Sigma Leisure
year = 2005
location = Wilmslow
pages = 240
url = http://www.sigmapress.co.uk
doi =
id =
isbn = 1-85058-774-4
] In 1887 the Bridgewater Navigation Company was purchased by the Manchester Ship Canal Company with a cheque for £1,710,000, which was at the time the largest cheque ever written, and the building of the Manchester Ship Canal began. [ [http://www.canalarchive.org.uk/stories/pages.php?enum=TE126&pnum=5&maxp=5 Canal Archive:Bridging the years] ] The Ship Canal, which was made by expanding the route of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation, opened in 1894. Although it came too late to save the cotton industry that had made the region the centre of the Industrial Revolution, the canal transformed Manchester into England's third largest port, despite being convert|40|mi|km|0 inland. As the canal was built, it became clear that Brindley's famous aqueduct would have to be demolished, as it allowed insufficient headroom for the freighters that the canal would carry. Fortunately, in 1896 the councillors of Eccles paid to have the aqueduct moved to the spot it occupies today, alongside the canal. The Bridgewater Canal is now carried over the Irwell/Ship Canal by the equally celebrated Barton Swing Aqueduct, which was completed in 1893 with the novel idea of "opening" by rotating 90 degrees to allow ships to pass.The construction of the Manchester Ship Canal and the Salford Docks led to the development of Trafford Park as a centre of heavy industry and brought employment to the area for the next eighty years. However, by the 1960s the UK began to lose its position as an industrial world power. The decline of the heavy industries in the area, the increasing size of freight carrying ships and competition from road transport, brought about the decline of Salford Docks and they eventually closed in 1982. A large urban regeneration project, The Salford Quays Development Plan, was published in 1985 and work began a few years later to redevelop the site for residential, business and leisure purposes. The Salford Quays waterside development has made living by the Irwell, and the Manchester Ship Canal into which it flows, fashionable once again. [cite web| last = Burdett | first = Jill| | title =Spotlight on Salford Quays | work =Home Search| publisher = Manchester Evening News | date = 2004-06-30 | url = http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/homesearch/latest/whereyoulive/s/122/122679_spotlight_on_salford_quays.html | format = http| accessdate = 2008-02-18]

There are further plans to "turn the tide on the years of neglect and once again embrace the River Irwell as a fundamental part of Manchester and Salford's heritage and future economic and social growth. The vision is to reinvent the central Manchester conurbation as the major waterfront destination in Northern England." A number of key stakeholders are involved in the development of this regeneration vision. These include Manchester, Salford and Trafford councils, Manchester Ship Canal Company, Environment Agency, Mersey Basin Campaign, local businesses, landowners, community groups and the wider Manchester, Salford and Traffordcommunities. [ [http://www.merseybasin.org.uk/page.asp?page=1&pagesize=5&confirmed=1&id=2837&docid=190 Urban River Regeneration in Manchester: Transforming the "Dark River" Irwell] ]

Irwell City Park

In 2007 Manchester City Council, Salford City Council and Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, prepared Planning Guidance to support the delivery of a project to see the restoration of the river and create a new urban park, to be called Irwell City Park. The intention is to develop 8 km of riverside, between The Meadows and Peel Park in the north, through Salford and Manchester city centres, Ordsall and Pomona Dock areas, around to Salford Quays and Trafford Wharfside. The three authorities formally adopted the draft Planning Guidance in March 2008. The Guidance sets out the guidelines, which the councils will use as a material consideration in determining applications for planning permission and other matters in the Irwell City Park area. In addition, it establishes a set of principles to ensure the provision of a continuous riverside cycle / walkway and the high quality design of new public open spaces and other infrastructure. An application will be made to the North West Development Agency in October 2008 to support pre-project implementation work, including design and technical feasibility work. [ [http://www.salford.gov.uk/irwellcitypark Salford City Council: Irwell City Park] Retrieved on 10 October 2008]

Sport on the Irwell

There has been rowing on the Irwell in Manchester and Salford since 1823. A regatta was inaugurated on 12 September 1842, on a straight course from Throstle's Nest Weir to Regent Road Bridge. Racing continued in Manchester with events such as Agecroft Regatta and Warburton Regatta. At the turn of the century, rowing was very popular in the area with many local clubs such as Nemesis, Prince of Wales, Minerva, Didsbury and Agecroft all competing regularly. However, the state of the river declined, and by the Second World War only Agecroft and Broughton rowing clubs were still active. [cite web| last =Anon |title =Rowing in Manchester:History|work =Two Cities Boatrace|url =http://www.twocitiesboatrace.co.uk/History.html| format =http| accessdate =2008-04-25]

Agecroft Rowing Club was formed in 1861, making it one of the oldest open membership rowing clubs in the world. [cite web| last =Anon | title =Agecroft Rowing Club |url=http://www.agecroftrc.org.uk/| format =http| accessdate = 2008-04-24] The club originally held regattas and participated in rowing events but was primarily a social club for rowing enthusiasts [cite web| last=Anon |title =Papers of the Agecroft Rowing Club |url=http://rylibweb.web.its.manchester.ac.uk/specialcollections/collections/guide/atoz/agecroft/index. |publisher=John Rylands University Library |accessdate=2008-04-21] and was based near to Agecroft Hall. It now operates from a boathouse next to the Salford Watersports Centre at Salford Quays which it shares with the University of Salford Boat Club. The boathouse also hosts the Northern Universities Boat Race, which was held on the river from 1972, but moved to the Quays in the early 1990s. [cite web |last=Anon |title=Quays to Success |work =Campus Report |publisher=University of Salford|year=2004 |url=http://www.campus.salford.ac.uk/images/report/report_summer2004.pdf |format=PDF |accessdate=2008-04-25]

Irwell Sculpture Trail

The Irwell Sculpture Trail is one of the largest public art initiatives and the longest sculpture trail in the UK. [cite web| last =Anon |title =Irwell Sculpture Trail| work =Lancashire County Council website| publisher =Lancashire County Council | year = 2008 | url =http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/view.asp?siteid=2856&pageid=4961&e=e | format =http | doi = | accessdate = 2008-05-17] The trail consists of a scenically varied, convert|30|mi|km|sing=on walking route based on the well-established Irwell Valley Way, stretching from Salford Quays to the moors above Bacup. Since 1987 over 30 pieces of public art have been commissioned from regional, national and international artists. [cite web |last =Morland | first = Joanna| | title =Case Study: Irwell Sculpture Trail
work =Public art online| publisher =Public Art Southwest| year = 2000 | url =http://www.publicartonline.org.uk/archive/casestudies/irwell_sculpture/trail.php| format =http| accessdate = 2008-05-17

Flood defences

The lower reaches of the Irwell have flooded many times in its history, the most well documented being the floods of 1866, 1946, 1954, 1980, and 2007. Two flood storage basins with a capacity of convert|650000|m3|cuyd have been constructed to the west of Littleton Road, Kersal, at a cost of around £11 million, to alleviate the flood problem and protect some 3,000 properties in Kersal and Lower Broughton against a 1 in 75 year flood, as part of the River Irwell Flood Defence Scheme. [cite web| last = Anon | title =Current flood risks and management | work =River Irwell Catchment Flood Management Plan 2006| publisher = Environment Agency | date = 2004-06-30 |url= http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/acrobat/irwell_03_1771695.pdf| accessdate=2007-12-11|month=December | year=2006|format=PDF] However, it is said that a 1 in a 100 year flood would breach these defences and cause some £55 million damage to property. [cite web|url= http://www.mangeogsoc.org.uk/egm/5_1.pdf|accessdate=2007-12-11|date=2003-08-21|format=pdf|title= Exploring Greater Manchester — a fieldwork guide: The fluvioglacial gravel ridges of Salford and flooding on the River Irwell|author= Hindle, P.(1998)|publisher=Manchester Geographical Society p.10 ] The defences proved successful on 2008-01-22, when the worst flooding to hit the region in thirty years caused the Irwell to burst its banks further downstream in the centre of Manchester. [cite web| last = Osuh | first=Chris| title =Floods clean-up under way
work =Manchester Evening News| publisher = M.E.N. Media | year = 2006 |url= http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1033120_floods_cleanup_under_way|format=http| accessdate=2008-01-26|date=2008-01-22


Moving upstream from the Mersey Confluence, the tributaries include the following: -
*Platts Brook
*Bent Lanes Brook
*Salteye Brook
**Worsley Brook
*River Medlock
*River Irk
*River Croal
**River Tonge
***Bradshaw Brook
***Astley Brook
***Eagley Brook
*River Roch
**River Spodden
**River Beal
*Pig Lees Brook
*Kirklees Brook
*Dearden Brook
*River Ogden
*Whitewell Brook
*Limey Water




*cite book |title=The Dark River |author=Bracegirdle, Cyril |coauthors=Illustrated by Ernest Wallace Brereton |year=1973 | publisher=Sherratt |location=Altrincham |isbn=0-85427-033-7
*cite book |first=Robert |last=Nicholls |title=Curiosities of Greater Manchester |publisher=Sutton Publishing |year=2004 |isbn=0750936614
*cite book| last =Brereton| first =Wallace| title =Irwell Gallery| publisher =Salford Local History Society| year =1978| location =Salford

External links

* [http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/m&i-nav/m&i-nav.htm History of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation (Old Quay Company)]
* [http://www.salfordadvertiser.co.uk/news/s/1033073_worst_flooding_in_decades Salford Advertiser 21 January 2008: Worst flooding in decades]
* [http://environment.info/commondata/acrobat/section_3_1097346.pdf Irwell Catchment Flood Management Plan:Current flood risks and flood risk management]
* [http://www.penninewaterways.co.uk/manchester/salfordquays.htm Salford Quays virtual tour]
* [http://www.canalarchive.org.uk/stories/pages.php?enum=TE126&pnum=1&maxp=5 Mersey and Irwell Navigation with images]
* [http://www.penninewaterways.co.uk/manchester/m70.htm Photos of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation]


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