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Medlock Soul Revival: Installation

Exhibition piece in Link Gallery, Manchester Metropolitan University. 27th Feb – 7th March 2013.

Conclusion of 6 week psychogeography project exploring the River Medlock. The installation includes sand and water from the Medlock; a video projection of the section of the river I was exploring; a hi-vis jacket with embroidered and screen printed logo ‘Medlock Soul Revival’; and two showcases of research material including objects from the river bank, books and photographs.

The installation attracted a lot of comment and interest.

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After taking it down I returned the sand to the banks of the river Medlock.

The showcases with research material are staying on display for a bit longer.

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Medlock Objects

Slideshow (silent) of objects found on the banks and in the vicinity of the river Medlock.

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Strinesdale and Waterhead

23rd December 2012.

This section of the walk picks up from Cairo and Majestic Mills near the Huddersfield Road in Oldham. Aptly named ‘Waterhead’ is the local area for two reservoirs and a water treatment plant. It is owned an managed by United Utilities. The site around Strinesdale was landscaped in the 1990s when the drinking water reservoirs were decommissioned. It is now a nature reserve. The upper reservoir is particularly lovely and leads up into the meandering valley of the Medlock to Roebuck Lane.

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Upper Strinesdale reservoir…

Strinesdale is an area of water and woodland covering approximately 40 acres (162,000 m²). In 1991, the reservoirs were drained and replaced by two smaller lakes with the old reservoir sites being planted with trees and grassland. The original reservoirs were built in 1828 and the erected plaque can be seen at Upper Strinesdale.

Strinesdale derives its name from the Old English “Strine” meaning boundary in connotation to the old Lancashire/Yorkshire boundary that ran through the middle of the site.
A flood struck Oldham on July 11 causing major damage across the area.

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Medlock emerges from bridge at Roebuck Lane. Not far beyond here is the source of the Medlock.

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Turning round and returning along the tracks on the east side of the reservoirs. There are many solid, yet rusting, signs of the industrial heritage.

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Back to the Huddersfield Road. The Waterhead Academy website says:

Our Academy opened in September 2010 and embodies the coming together of our two predecessor schools at Breeze Hill and Counthill, which were founded in 1960 and 1951 respectively.
Our Academy’s twin specialisms are English and Creative Technologies, each of which gives special impetus to our students’ ability to succeed in every area of the curriculum.
Our Academy embraces two Campuses: our Main Campus on Huddersfield Road and our Sports Campus on Counthill Road.
Our Main Campus is built on the site of a former spinning Mill and on the boundary line which separates the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire. One of the original boundary stones has been retained and is set within the wall at the Academy Entrance.

The Academy was built on the site of Orb Mill (demolished in 2004)

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Link to some interesting UrbEx exploration of the culverts under and around this area: Majestic Culverts

Link to United Utilities wiki

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Medlock merges into the Irwell

January 6th. This section is from Dawson Street Bridge and Regent Bridge down to where the Medlock flows into the River Irwell. The Irwell itself flows into the Manchester shipping canal. It is only a brief stretch from Dawson St Bridge to the outlet into the Irwell, but there is no public access to the Medlock at this point. So my walk took me back up Water street (where there is a parking space), onto Regent Road, across Regent Bridge and down onto the footpath on the Salford side of the Irwell. From that side it is possible to see where the Medlock pours out. Further up the Irwell/Ship Canal is a lovely old iron bridge which crosses back into Cornbrook and the multi-bricked arches of the railway viaduct. Actually this bridge marks the meeting points of the boundaries of Salford, Trafford and Manchester. The area has a strong sense of industrial history: Britannia Mills, Timber Wharf, The Box Works, Hulme Junction. A clear frosty day.

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View from Regent Bridge down Irwell to Ship Canal

View from Regent Bridge down Irwell to Ship Canal

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

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Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

Regent Bridge

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Medlock entering Irwell

Medlock entering Irwell

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Manchester Ship Canal

Manchester Ship Canal

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Manchester Ship Canal

Irwell/Manchester Ship Canal. Medlock River enters just beyond trees on right.

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Hulme junction

Hulme junction

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Leesbrook to Cairo Mills

I explored the area around Leesbrook and the Leesbrook Mill. The Medlock goes underground near the Mill on the South side of Lees Rd then re-emerges the other side of Nether Lees. I decided to track back briefly to Nether Lees first before returning to the Lees Rd and the path going North.

The Old Mill on Lees Rd.

The Old Mill on Lees Rd.

The Old Mill on Lees Rd.

The Old Mill on Lees Rd.

Blue Plaque to Annie Kenney - suffragette

Blue Plaque to Annie Kenney – suffragette

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Medlock disappears under ground at this point in Leesfield.

Medlock disappears under ground at this point in Leesfield.

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Medlock disappears under ground at this point in Leesfield.

Medlock disappears under ground at this point in Leesfield.

Boggy ground, healthy tree - Nether Lees.

Boggy ground, healthy tree – Nether Lees.

Boggy ground, healthy tree - Nether Lees.

Boggy ground, healthy tree – Nether Lees.

Stray balloon

Stray balloon

Sun over Lees Rd

Sun over Lees Rd

Lees Rd and mill.

Lees Rd and mill.

I then walked back north from Brook Side, over Bank Top, along Sun Hill and finally to Cairo Mills and Majestic Mills on Dunham st.

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Medlock going under ground, under Sun Hill

Medlock going under ground, under Sun Hill

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Remains of a grand industrial past

Remains of a grand industrial past

Remains of a grand industrial past

Remains of a grand industrial past

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Cairo Mills

Cairo Mills

Cairo Mills

Cairo Mills

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Medlock going under the mills

Cairo Mills

Cairo Mills

Cairo Mills

Cairo Mills

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Drift: River Medlock (Section: Medlock Street – Dawson St. Bridge)

First Street – Medlock Street – Medlock Bridge – River City – Knott Mill – Blue Rainbow Apartments – Owen st. Car Park – Deansgate – Liverpool rd. – Potato Wharf – Giants Basin – Dawson st. Bridge.

How inaccessible the river is.

Medlock Street

Medlock Street

From this 1824 map - note how the Medlock bends away at 45 degrees from what is now Whitworth St. Then it bends sharply back upwards before entering the tunnel under the bridge under Medlock St. Note also Medlock St was then called Gratrix St.

From this 1824 map – note how the Medlock bends away at 45 degrees from what is now Whitworth St. Then it bends sharply back upwards before entering the tunnel under the bridge under Medlock St. Note also Medlock St was then called Gratrix St.

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Looking back towards the bridge under Medlock st

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The bend round Blue Rainbow apartments

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The bend round Blue Rainbow apartments

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Definitely no access to the river.

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Beetham Tower from Knott Mill

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The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.

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Giant’s Basin

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Giant’s Basin

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Dawson St Bridge

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No access.

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No access.

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The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.

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The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.

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The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.

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The Medlock flows straight into the Bridgewater Canal at Knott Mill near Deansgate. A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.

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Mermorial in Owen St Car Park

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Water flows out of Giant’s Basin under bridge an on as River Medlock

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Graffiti under railway arches. Junction of Egerton and Dawson St

Castlefield Waterways

Castlefield Waterways

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Graffiti under railway arches. Junction of Egerton and Dawson St

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Graffiti and bird shit spattered tyres under railway arches. Junction of Egerton and Dawson St

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Tree in wall

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Doorway over Medlock on Deansgate

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The Medlock water that isn’t directed down the tunnel passes beneath Deansgate and the Deansgate Apartment Buildings before joining the Bridgewater Canal.

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Way marker. ….shire?

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Beetham Tower

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Castlefield basin

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The Medlock water that isn’t directed down the tunnel passes beneath Deansgate and the Deansgate Apartment Buildings before joining the Bridgewater Canal.

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Gaythorn Tunnel

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Gaythorn Tunnel

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YHA (left) at Giant’s Basin

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Bridges at Giant’s Basin

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Medlock flowing away from Giant’s Basin

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Unfinished

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Medlock flowing away from Giant’s Basin

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New Elm Rd bridge

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Unfinished

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Along Potato Wharf

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Along Potato Wharf

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Along Potato Wharf

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Dawson St Bridge

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Dawson St Bridge

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Gaythorn, Medlock Street Car Park

“In a rather deep hole, in a curve of the Medlock and surrounded on all four sides by tall factories and high embankments, covered with buildings, stand two groups of about 200 cottages in which live about 4,000 human beings, most of them Irish. The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions…”

Friedrich Engels’s account of 1840s Gaythorn area of Manchester, as depicted in The Condition of the Working Class in England.

After some uncertainty as to how to choose my drifters research area, I have taken the Gaythorn car parks (Medlock Street car park and car park D) as a psychogeographic starting point. These rough and battered patches of land are going to provide the locus from which I will orientate out. I will pursue radial explorations around the area, returning to Gaythorn car parks as a home base.

Using Andrew Taylor’s excellent map of Manchester I have isolated an area I am calling the ‘Medlock Corridor’:

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Medlock Corridor (central section). Map © Andrew Taylor 2011

This initial local drift took place on a frosty day and concerned the main two car parks:

I noticed the Salvation Army / Social Services Centre was looking a bit worse for wear. The Sally Army Crest was vandalised. I went in to ask the receptionist what was happening. She informed me that the place was closing down on the 12th December. She put me in touch with Nigel Yates, the Centre manager, who was positive in my request to take some interior photos before the place is demolished. See further blog for results of this.

Drift pattern:

1) Circulation of Medlock Street Car Park

2) SSC Salvation Army / Lifehouse, Wilmott Strett.  Outside and visit inside.

3) Circulation of Car Park D