Saturday, 5 September 2009

A Glimpse of the Mersey Valley 50 Years Ago - Hilda Broady's Journal

5th September, 1959

There was very little obvious change on the plot apart from the signs of more fires. A number of fires had obviously been started by children, one of these being on my plot. The children had slung a rope over a high branch on a Sycamore tree and were using this for the purpose of swinging over the fire.

My visit finished up being a nature lesson for six other children who wanted to know what I was doing. We identified all the trees in the neighbourhood, and looked at the seeds of different plants. My reward was a large spider, whose web one of the children found.
An unidentified fungus was found growing at the side of the stream and a specimen was taken. The side of the Sycamore tree nearest to the previous fire appeared charred and the leaves quite brown and dead.

The hawthorn haws were becoming wrinkled and their colour dull compared with the Guelder rose berries which were bright red.Whilst the Sycamore and Hawthorn trees appeared dull and dark green, the Oak seedlings still retained their shiny green leaves.

So it would appear that kids were setting fires in long grass 50 years ago - just as they do, all too frequently, today. I suppose that this highly damaging practice will carry on until our culture, as a whole, starts to respect the environment (if that day ever comes).

I wonder if there are any people locally who still remember Mrs Broady's impromptu nature lessons? - Ed.

Posted by Dave Bishop, 5th September 2009


Unknown said...

I don't remember Hilda Broady's Nature lesssons but I was definitely one of those who used to set fire to Chorlton Meadows over 50 years ago. I lived in Chorltonville and the Meadows were my playground.

This was of course before Chorlton Ees, the playing fields etc. The meadows would flood in winter as the Mersey overflowed its banks and in 1954 (I think) the whole thing was a lake right up to where the path starts at Brookburn road.

Dave Bishop said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for leaving a comment.

If you've got any more memories of Chorlton Meadows, we'd love to hear about them!


Unknown said...

We would play football on a flattish area between the banks of the Mersey and the tall concrete wall which encased the sewage outflow.

Being low lying, this area was often under water so I went to look at it one Autumn to find it dry. But at the Mersey bank end there was a huge patch of hundreds of purple flowers which I now know to be Crocus nudiflorus. I've found C. nudiflorus on many occasions since then but only on ones and twos.

When I first went to explore the area in the early 1950s you could only cross into Sale by paying a toll of a half penny on the Jackson's boat bridge. That was more than I could afford so for many years Sale remained a mysterious unknown land.

Because it was not long after WW2 there were craters on the meadows where the bombers has unloaded. They had bombed the houses at the top of Claude road for instance. We would as often explore the allotment areas just before the meadows and in there my friends and I found a cylindrical object with fins sticking out of the ground not far from the tennis courts.

It was obviously an unexploded bomb so we tried to explode it by lighting a fire next to it. We stood well back of course (at least 10 yards) but it didn't go off so we went to play cricket instead.

Dave Bishop said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for those memories - that's exactly the sort of thing that I was hoping for. Mind you I will probably wake up tonight, in a cold sweat, thinking of you and your mates trying to set the bomb off with the fire! I hope your mothers never found out!

I went looking for Autumn Crocuses today and found them all along the the river from Jackson's Boat Bridge to Fletcher Moss in Didsbury.Some of the patches did have around a 100 flowers in them - but others were smaller.

I posted an article on Crocus nudiflorus, on this blog, last year (20.09.2008) if you're interested.