Sports, leisure and the Arts Harpurhey Reservoir and Ponds

Harpurhey Reservoir and Ponds - The Journey so Far

The Historical Journey

Harpurhey Reservoirs are a series of former mill ponds, which date from the time of the "Turkey Red Dyeing", which took place around North Manchester .

The district of Harpurhey was named in the early 14th Century after William Harpur who enclosed land which was part of Blackley Forest. At that time the forest was a pleasant and fertile land watered by the river Irk.

In 1780 Robert Andrew of Manchester moved to Harpurhey and purchased 24 acres of land. Andrew began "Turkey Red Dyeing" in the 1790s. This proved to be a highly successful business and the Andrews family became the dominant landowner in Harpurhey, renting out land alongside the River Irk to other dye factory owners.

For a number of years the area enjoyed economic prosperity but by the early 20th century de-industrialisation meant that the majority of factories were derelict. With little economic prosperity in the area, physical and social decline began. The ponds were left with a legacy of pollution and litter.

Today, the ponds are a haven for a large array of wildlife. The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit said of the site:

'It is fantastic to know that so close to areas where a lot of people live, you can be lucky enough to see the blue-green flash of a kingfisher or watch coots nest-building"

The Journey so far

The ponds:

  • 2000-2001 - Ponds cleared of debris (cars & washing machines to mention but a few).
  • 2003 - Major site debris clearance.
  • 2004 - Pond clearance and footpath installation on the Lily Pond.
  • 2005 - Vegetation clearance, footpath excavation and repair, debris clearance, install new set of steps from Harpurhey Road to Alfred Street. Fencing installed along Factory Lane.
  • 2006 - Study undertaken on the Factory Lane pond to determine source of pollutant
  • 2007 - Funds secured to develop site, reed beds installed on Factory Lane pond to combat pollutants, install and repair footpath
  • 2008 - Funds secured to install a footbridge, excavate two existing ponds bringing them back into use as a open water habitat. Replacement of steps from River Irk to Alderside Road footpath, securing of the upper section of the ponds site with fencing around Alderside Road and Ellanhall Close.

The Reservoirs

One of the most prominent and visible example of industrial pollution, the reservoirs have over the last-50 years began to re-establish themselves as a natural environment. However, is quite apparent that without intervention the site will never fully recover.

  • 1999-2001 - Baseline data contamination gathering
  • 2003-2005 - Further additional data gathering and analysis
  • 2009-2010 - Data analysis source identification, contamination flow and hot spot determination. Site feasibility Study incorporating the contamination data analysis, this study has assessed the sites capacity for community use once remediation works have taken place and will form the basis of any funding application.

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