Ashton Moss is an area I have known for some fifty years or so, my grandfather was a collier at the Ashton Moss Pit, I worked trains around the triangle of rail that encloses the area – I returned some time ago to take a look at what remained of a once fertile area.
This area of low lying, deep peaty bog, just outside Ashton-under Lyne, was drained in the mid 1800’s to grow some of the best crops – It was world famous for its celery but also grew good cabbage, cauliflowers and lettuce, with cucumbers and tomatoes grown in glasshouses. The ground was apparently fertilised by marl dug from local banks or pits, and by dung brought by horse and cart from the elephant and tiger enclosures at Belle Vue Zoo, down the road.
Four brothers of the Kelly family came from Ireland shortly after the Irish potato famine of 1840’s, settled on the Moss and still have a descendent selling fruit and vegetables on Ashton Market today.
The Moss is also where Bill Sowerbutts, of Gardener’s Question Time fame, learnt his trade. Bill’s first memories were of his Father’s smallholding on the Moss, which had been bought from a market gardener called Tommy Knight in 1892.
The celery is long gone, the land now in use as a retail leisure park, intersected by the Manchester Orbital ring road, a Metrolink tram track, several dual carriageways and the existing rail network.
Its passing does not seem to be matter of record save for this archived account of 1989.
I read today of plans to set the 2025 World’s Fair there.
In January 2009 it looked like this, heaps of spoil, recently relocated slag heaps, frozen lakes and puddles, rough tracks, barely preserved rights of way and restricted access.