Allied Ironfounders – Audenshaw

As I walked out one morning, in search of an industrial access cover or two or more, I found more, much more, dug deeper, unearthed a can of worms, a murky past cast in cast iron.

This is the cover closest to my home on Didsbury Road Stockport, manufactured by Glynwed of Corporation Road Audenshaw, the closest foundry to my former school.

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Glynwed formerly Allied Ironfounders, the manufacturer of gas appliances, the humble Rayburn and the infamous stuff of sagas the Aga.

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And the Meridian Grate – great! The foundry was also known as the Planet Works, the adjoining rough ground Planet Fields, where on wet winter days we would form a mud spattered procession of ragged schoolboys engaged in the joys of cross country running, over a factory’s spoil tip.

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We never got to see the firm’s Mayfair showrooms, we never got to pass go – I guess it was just too far to run, cross country or otherwise.

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The sleek Modernist lines of the Allied Ironfounders’ showpiece contrasts with the conditions of the work force manufacturing the grates and Agas.

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So some fifty years and several miles separates me from my schooldays and my local gas inspection cover. Guess I’l just gas up the Thames Trader and head for the hills folks.

Yippie-aye-ay, yippie-aye-oh, ghost riders in the sky.

And underground.

 

Ashton Moss – Expo 2025

Why are we here?

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A heady cocktail of capital, coal, cotton, cultivation, commerce and cricket created you.

The end of the age of celery heralded the construction of a new landscape of consumption.

Spoil and soil from the cuttings of the M60, added to by Etihad detritus created an elevated mound some hundred feet in height, across an area of seventeen hectares.

Where are we going?

Playing golf has been permanently postponed, the proposed light industrial units were knocked back by local authority planning officers, and residents’ objections.

So let’s get off to the Expo!

I took myself off there, take a look around, get a feel for the place. Currently the province of rebel dog walkers and guerrilla gardeners, I was informed that the rights of way are regularly blocked by an employee of Cordingley’s Estate Agents, who closes the gaps in the perimeter fencing, subsequently photographing his wiry handiwork. The gaps are then promptly reopened and walkways reestablished.

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Short eared owls have been spotted.

I was told of the legend concerning Peg’s lantern – fearing for the well being of her son, Peg wanders the dark lanes in search of the errant offspring, later found drunk in a ditch.

This area is a locus of deep, deep energies and histories, monkey with it at your peril.

These are observations from a hill:

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Ashton Moss – The Past

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To the east of Manchester and the west of Ashton sits The Moss.

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.

This map of 1861 shows an area criss-crossed with lanes, ditches and field boundaries.

A world that survived into the 1980s, captured here so beautifully by Brian Lomas, prior to the building of the M60.

Photographs from – Tameside Image Archive

Then came the railways:

Map Cobb Guide Bridge area

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With an attendant ghost:

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And telecommunications installation

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Its location on the south east corner of the Lancashire Coalfield, and the burgeoning demands of the Industrial Revolution saw the further development of mining in the area.

As the demand for coal outstripped the output, a deeper mine was opened in 1875, at Ashton Moss. This new pit had its own railway branch and canal arm for efficient transportation of the coal. In 1882 a second shaft was sunk – at 2,850 feet, the deepest in the world at that time.

The New Rocher pit closed in 1887 and Broadoak pit closed in 1904, after which time Ashton Moss pit was the only coal mine still in operation in Ashton. Although it produced 150,000 tons of coal a year in the early 1950s and employed over 500 men, Ashton Moss colliery closed in 1959 and part of its site is now the Snipe Retail Park on the boundary with Audenshaw.

Seen here in this painting by local artist David Vaughan.

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Colliery lamp token.

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This tight little island of land was a contrasting mix of the agricultural and industrial, home also to the urgent demands of a leisured and growing working class.

The area boasted two motorcycle speedway tracks.

One located on the Audenshaw side, just behind The Snipe pub.

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And one in Droylsden at the Moorside Stadium – home to local legend Riskit Riley:

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The stadium later to become a horse trotting track, known locally as Doddy’s Trot

The Moss has also provided a home for Curzon Ashton football club

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And Ashton Cricket and Bowling Club.

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The cricket and the football have both survived the building of the Orbital Ring Road, and the development of the site as a light industrial, retail and leisure park.

The roar of Riskit Riley is heard no more.

Ashton Moss

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.

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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.

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