Prestwich to Manchester linear 09-12-2016 – Leader Derek

Prestwich to Manchester linear 09-12-2016 – Leader Derek

Whilst waiting for my colleagues in the somewhat run-down Longfield Centre, I spotted a shop by the name of Village Greens, a grocery store owned by its members, offering an ethical alternative shopping experience to supermarkets.  Then the others arrived (including Roger with a plastered nose), and the 12 of us set off to St Mary’s churchyard, where 5,000 residents of Prestwich Hospital were buried in unmarked graves – actually in pits – between 1851 and 1994.  Also here was a small war cemetery for local soldiers who died from injuries received during the two world wars.  St Mary’s is also noted for the broadcast ringing of its bells in 1942 to celebrate the Allies’ victory in El Alamein.  We also walked over River Jordan, this being the name of a local man who was buried here, and who called all his numerous sons River as well.  Then it was through the woods into Drinkwater Park and the Irwell Sculpture Trail, where we had our coffee break in what was once Drinkwater Hall (actually Irwell House).  Derek was in festive mood, distributing lovely Christmas chocolates, and regaling us with jokes and a quiz that lasted for much of the walk.

Continuing more or less southward, sometimes on the River Irwell, we made a short diversion to see Kersal Cell, a grade II listed building, and the second oldest building in Salford after Ordsall Hall.  Originally for monks, it was lived in by John Byrom, who wrote ‘Christians Awake, salute the happy morn’ and also invented shorthand, presumably so that he could write his poetry even faster.  It has been a girls’ school and restaurant, but is now private housing.  Along the bank of the Irwell were a number of tourist information signs, one averring that “the Riverside Walkway has it all … beautiful surroundings, panoramic views of Salford and Manchester, outdoor activity, fascinating history, visitor attractions and plenty of wildlife”, but what Derek told us about Salford told a rather different tale!  Passing the site of the old Manchester (not Salford) racecourse, a couple of splendid bridges took us to Peel Park, Derek’s old stamping ground when he lectured at the University.  Here we came across one of the Irwell Sculpture Trail pieces – ‘Fabric of Nature’, which turns out to include the grassy slopes around the central piece.  A short visit to the Museum and Art Gallery, in one of the many splendid old buildings in the area, revealed a business sign in Lark Hill Place advertising the services of Mrs Driver, a bit of a bleeder with leeches!

Lunch was taken in a lovely Georgian square opposite the University, after which we saw the old Fire Station, now an office block.  Nearby was the old police station, where Lou’s father worked.  She told us that Christmas parties were thrown there for local children, with presents being distributed by Jimmy Savile!!  On the last lap now, Derek led us on a mazy and information-packed journey past the old Salford Royal Hospital (hit by a bomb in WWII), the old courthouse, St Philip’s Church, Salford Cathedral, and thence to Islington Park.  Here bodies were discovered in cellars, hence the rather gruesome wrought iron work on the gates.  In the centre of the park is a mosaic commemorating the 17,000 people who were buried there between the harsh years 1829 and 1853.  Finally onto the Irwell – the border between the two cities – coming up by the People’s History Museum, where we broke up to go our separate ways, but not before thanking Derek for yet another tour de force.

(Pics & write up Arnold.  Appended here are the route stats and very unusual profile.)

Slideshow below, but if you wish to see a static view of the pics all in one go, then click here.


  1. Graeme Adlum

    After losing Derek on Wednesday’s Chipping walk it was good to have him back to lead another memorable walk. Who would believe walking from Prestwich to Manchester could be so interesting. Excellent walk Derek. Great write up and photos Arnold. I must now visit Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

  2. Diana Maddison

    The ruins of Drinkwater Hall – made me laugh!
    Thank you Derek for all the linear walks this year. Arnold for the photos……………. especially that one!

    • Thanks, Diana. I must admit that I was sweating a bit when I saw that you had made a comment! Glad you were amused.

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