Monthly Archives: February 2011

Rochdale Nine and Bridgewater canal

I went for a walk on a section of canal on Saturday the 29th. I started on the Rochdale canal at oxford road. It is a section called the Rochdale nine, after the nine locks that run through and underneath Manchester. I started at eight, just as it was beginning to get light. I wanted to avoid the various oddballs and naer-do-wells that I thought might inhabit some of the areas I would pass though. As it turns out, I, in hiking gear and a camera wandering around canals on a Saturday morning was the only oddball.

Walking along this canal takes you below street level. Canals were once arteries that brought goods in and out of the industrial centres of Manchester. Now, they are still largely intact and preserved for leisure. I am interested in the way they sit as industrial relics, scarred and dismissed. Nature has reclaimed some parts whilst property developers have claimed others. I wanted to have an ‘out of city’ experience; I thought this would be a way of having the solitary and sedate experience that you might have walking in the countryside except this would be going through the centre of a busy and noisy city.

The route takes you down to Deansgate locks, past Beetham tower and through Castlefield. All of these areas are former industrial sites that have seen extensive re-development in the past 10-15 years. I saw a few people here, as it is quite a built up residential area. Leaving Castlefield takes you onto the Bridgewater canal and around the back of Salford and past Pomona docks. At this point, there were no people and the noise changed; cars and busses fell silent and were replaced by the loud rattle of a scrap yard and the clank of containers. I walked behind Old Trafford, the Manchester United football stadium then through Trafford park -a large industrial estate and finished in Stretford. I am planning more trips along the canals in Manchester in the near future.

An Entropic Situation

I used to play in this stream when I was little
We used to make a dam
Every weekend we made it and
The next weekend it was gone
And we had to re-make it
The river was diverted for the bypass
Now it is thin and deep
It has tried to find its own path
Through the restrictions of concrete sides and pipes

A broken fence at the side of a bridge mudslides to a field
Playground equipment has been weighed in

I am walking through nowhere
I am in the middle of nothing
There are pruned paths that lead nowhere

A wartime airfield was claimed by nature
It is claimed by a property developer
No one lives in the new houses
There is a creeping tension between nature and brick and tarmac

I walk though Stanley Green industrial estate
There are storage warehouses, industrial units
Long sides of corrugated powder coated steel
With PVC windows and front doors from suburban houses
And a public path which takes you round the back
You see compressed cardboard and off-cuts of vinyl

A vast area of land has been paved for airport parking
It is chewed up and empty
The business has moved on or gone under
The ghost of something is left
I get to it though a gap in the chain link fence
I thought it was a torn down warehouses

This area has the confinement of the city
And the expanse of the countryside
It has neither untouched purity
Or ugly dense weight
There is a relationship between people and nature
This a site with social potential
This is an entropic situation