River Irk

The image above is shown here with the permission of David Dixon

The River Irk rises near Royton, north of Oldham.  It flows south through Chadderton and Middleton before entering Manchester.  In the image above you can see it in a "rural" setting as passes through Chadderton Hall Park.

Below you can see the Irk approaching the city centre beside Dantzic Street.

A bridge crosses the Irk in the vicinty of Roger Street and Gould Street.  Up ahead it passes beneath the railway viaducts.

Below is the view looking north and east from the Ducie Bridge in 2009.  The Irk is seen emerging again from beneath the railway viaduct.  The Green Quarter development is seen on the left.

The image above is © Copyright Keith Williamson
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Beyond the Ducie Bridge the River Irk is an invisible visitor to the city because most of its course is culverted.  This wasn't the case in the days when Friedrick Engles lived there.  In his book, "The Condition of the Working Class in England", Engles described the Irk as he saw it.  "The south bank of the Irk is here very steep and between fifteen and thirty feet high. On this abrupt slope there are planted three rows of houses, of which the lowest rise directly out of the river, while the front walls of the highest stand on the crest of the hill in Long Millgate. Among them are mills on the river, in short, the method of construction is as crowded and disorderly here as in the lower part of Long Millgate. Right and left a multitude of covered passages lead from the main street into numerous courts, and he who turns in thither gets into a filth and disgusting grime, the equal of which is not to be found - especially in the courts which lead down to the Irk, and which contain unqualifiedly the most horrible dwellings which I have yet beheld."  He goes on to describe the view from the Ducie Bridge as follows, "The view from this bridge, mercifully concealed from mortals of small stature by a parapet as high as a man, is characteristic for the whole district. At the bottom flows, or rather stagnates, the Irk, a narrow, coal-black, foul-smelling stream, full of debris and refuse, which it deposits on the shallower right bank."

Below is a map of the area from 1850 showing the exposed Irk between the Ducie Bridge and the confluence with the River Irwell.

The red star added to the map above shows the approximate location of the photograph below.  The Irk is passing beneath the ground at that point.

Below is the point where the Irk emerges from the culvert to join the Irwell near the MEN Arena.

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