Friday, 27 November 2009

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

This is the undated Conclusion to Mrs Broady's Journal:

When I began the study of my plot I was very apprehensive and rather worried as to procedure, but as the weeks went by, the work became more and more fascinating (and also more time consuming). From what appeared to be a rather dull patch of ground in March, developed a plot of far greater interest than I had ever anticipated, and which produced many specimens of plant and insect life.

Many of the herbs appeared to have a very short season, which may be accounted for by the exceptionally dry weather of 1959. During August, September, and the beginning of October there were numerous fires on the plot. Within four weeks of the first fire, grass and rosebay willow herb had appeared through the scorched ground. Within nine weeks of this fire, 75% of the area affected was covered by grass, rosebay willow herb and bramble.

Some of the grasses, as will be seen from the specimens, grew to an exceptional height of about six feet, and by July it was very difficult to walk about parts of the plot owing to the height of the grass, which hid bramble shoots which were very prolific.

Rosebay willow herb was dominant in the summer months, and some plants reached a height of four feet.

The leaves of the Sycamore trees had suffered considerable damage by aphis, and many were affected by rust.

Between March and November, the only time water was seen in the stream was in late July – probably because the mud had hardened so much that the rain took longer to soak through – and from this time, water was not seen again until November.
Although I only completed a fraction of the work which I should have liked to complete, valuable experience has been gained on which to base future work which I hope I may be able to undertake with schoolchildren.

So that's the final section of Hilda Broady's journal for 1959. As I reported back in the Spring I think that her plot still exists, within the boundaries of Chorlton Golf Course, and is probably looking better now than it was in 1959. I'm still not sure exactly who Hilda Broady was and whether or not she carried on her study of her plot, and of Natural History in general, in subsequent years. If anyone has any more information it would be gratefully received.

In addition, if anyone fancies doing a similar study somewhere locally The Friends of Chorlton Meadows would be very interested in it and would try to help in any way we can. The more we know about local biodiversity, the more chance we have of saving it for future generations. - Ed.

Posted by Dave Bishop, November 2009

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