River Medlock

The River Medlock rises in the hills east of Oldham and meanders its way to Manchester via Clayton Vale (see below).

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

Here it is approaching Ashton New Road.

Then heading off towards the city centre having passed below Ashton New Road.

In the mid 1800s the Medlock formed a border between the city of Manchester and suburbs like Ardwick and Chorlton on Medlock.  The Adshead map below (shown here with the permission of Chetham's Library) illustrates the point with the blue line of the Medlock snaking around the south of the city.

Here it is as seen from the air in the 1950s

Despite the fact that the river was always rather shallow it was soon lined by factories and mills and the pollution soon overwhelmed the river.  Below you can see it just east of London Road.

As you can see the river had dye works, cotton mills and print works discharging effluence into it.

Over the years large sections of the Medlock have been culverted and only remnants of it remain visible.  Below you see a large loop of the river behind the warehouses on Whitworth Street.

Below you can see the railway viaduct which carries the track from Piccadilly Station to Oxford Road Station.  The Medlock below is approaching Oxford Road.

Across Oxford Road the river flows off into the area that was once known as Little Ireland.

Below is the same view captured in 2010 while the new Holiday Inn Hotel was under construction.

The Medlock loops once again on its way to Cambridge Street.  The girders in the foreground were once part of a mill that spanned the Medlock at this point. Friedrich Engels in his book "The Condition of the Working Class in England", described this area as follows, ".. the most horrible spot .. lies on the Manchester side, immediately south-west of Oxford Road, and is known as Little Ireland.  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 two hundred cottages, built chiefly back to back, in which live about 4,000 human beings mostly Irish.  The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets are 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;  the atmosphere is poisoned by the effluvia from these, and laden and darkened by the smoke of a dozen tall factory chimneys."

After crossing below Cambridge Street the river curves again behind Hotspur House and enters land once belonging to the Macintosh Rubber Works and the Gaythorne Gas Works.

Even today the river has its problems with unwanted deposits.

The Medlock runs head-on into the Bridgewater Canal in Knott Mill near Deansgate.  A tippler weir sends excess water down into a tunnel that runs beneath the Castlefield canal basin.  Below are two images that offer glimpses of the weir mechanism.

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

The water that was directed into the tunnel passes beneath the Castlefield  Basin before surfacing again near Potato Wharf. 

Near Potato Wharf is the Giant's Basin, a circular stone weir that collects the overflow from the Bridgewater Canal. 

That water travels through a short tunnel before surfacing again beside the River Medlock tunnel.

From here the Medlock flows off towards its confluence with the River Irwell.

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