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Sports, leisure and the Arts Irk Valley

The River Irk

The River Irk and its surrounding green space was once open countryside, with rolling green hills, a fast flowing river, which supplied clean water to the villages it passed through. The very name 'Irk' suggests indolence; however, it is named for quite the opposite reason, the word Iwrck or Irke comes from Roebuck, named for its fleetness.

However following the advent of the industrial revolution that image changed radically. The River Irk is described in Wentworth's 'The History and Annals of Blackley' (1892) as follows, "it is not only the blackest but the most sluggish of all rivers".

According to The New Gazetteer of Lancashire (1830) the River Irk had more mill seats upon it than any other stream of its length in the Kingdom." and that "the eels in this river were formerly remarkable for their fatness, which was attributed to the grease and oils expressed by the mills from the woollen cloths and mixed with the waters." In addition to the mill seats upon the River Irk, its tributaries were culverted, where it became convenient, allowing urban developments to expand. The most notable culverted section flows underneath Manchester's Victoria railway station into a cavernous brick tunnel at Ducie Bridge ending its journey at the Irwell basin beneath the railway viaduct.

At the decline of the Industrial revolution the River Irk and its surrounding green space were left in a sad and neglected state.

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