Archive for October, 2007

In which they discover a Victorian mansion and a mill that isn’t there

by marie

I called Liam to see if he wanted to do a mini zed yesterday evening. It turned into something of a zedding, covering 7 squares in all, compared to last Sunday’s 4.

Having arrived in Didsbury first, on page 125, I did some solo zedding in square F6 down Warburton Street. Warburton Street is exceedingly charming with a wonderful independent bookshop whose door opens with a sneck.
warburton road pleasing bookshop sneck on pleasing bookshop old school

Around the corner from the pleasing school with the tower is the wool shop (0oh the yarn), where I met Liam and shared the research I had done on the bus. Our mate Bazza has an excursion to Didsbury and he mentions The Towers “perhaps the finest Victoria mansion in Manchester”. Sounds like a must see… We consulted our trusty A to Z. A search for “towers” on page 137 showed us a business park called “the towers” on our way to our target square of G4, so we set off to see if it harboured a Victorian mansion.

On the way we got distracted by the grand civic buildings of .. um.. Manchester Metropolitan University Students Union, Didsbury campus. I thought there was some sort of law that said SU buildings had to be ugly.
MMU Didsbury campus SU MMU Didsbury campus SU-2 More MMU Didsbury

We saw a gate, it lured us. It turned out to be the gates to the Parsonage Gardens of Fletcher Moss. There were palm trees and some advice which was either ecologically or hygienically suspect. Bazza says that Alderman Fletcher Moss was “eccentric but public spirited and had a late flowering passion for the bicycle”.
Old parsonage gate Old parsonage with palm trees Fletcher Moss says.. fletcher moss gardens

Then we found the business park. It was very green (the buildings not the vegetation).
even uglier green modern building Unique office space

In the midst of it, like a family heirloom at Primark, was indeed a fine Victorian mansion. It had gargoyles, they ate their tails. It had a plaque; the decision to build the Manchester Ship Canal was taken there. We thought about the decisions involving commerce which must take place there still; somehow I imagine they lack the romance of that one. Did someone turn to Daniel Adamson, who was after all a man with gargoyles on his house, and say “hey Dan! Let’s have our own river” and now they…they do what…order the staples?
the towers towers with ugly modern building the towers entrance dragon eats his tail arrow slits Tower on The Towers Daniel Adamson

Further down the Wilmslow road we learn that the inhabitants of Didsbury include schoolgirls from Malory towers, because no one plays lacrosse outside an Enid Blyton novel do they?
And just down the road the area became a little less exclusive:
people play lacrosse outside malory towers ugly junction

Just outside Cheadle we found the bridge across the Mersey. From here we knew there might or might not be a path to our target, which may or not, be there.
Cheadle bridge over the mersey

Liam’s vintage A to Z shows G4 to contain a mill on the banks of the Mersey in the shadow of junction10 of the m63. Back in this century, under junction 3 of the m60, no mill appears.
We were going to check this out, who stole the mill?
atoz137g4

There was a hotel that smelt of potato wedges, and had rhino posts outside. We kept a ear out for any rhinos sneaking up on us, just in case, and ventured into the woods. We knew where we were going because we were looking for the weir on my map (but someone stole that too). We went through the woods in the fading light…discovered that A to Zs aren’t ideal for this sort of thing… reached the road… went back again… consulted the A to Z again…listened to the river to see if it sounded like it was coming up to a weir or had just been down one…looked at the A to Z again.
rhino post woods marie consults a to zed

Eventually we scrambled down a muddy bank to get a better view and discovered that what looked to be a big pile of sticks was the wall of the mill with the roots of a tree growing round it. Foundations of the opposite wall could be seen in the bank behind us, our muddy hollow was all that was left of the mill. Not quite time team but we were pleased with ourselves.
mill remnants where a weir used to be on the mersey mill remnants 2 roots on mill ruins

We followed the graffiti back to civilisation and caught (as Bazza would say) a “suburban train” home.
graffiti subvert  Kingsway over mersey

Back home we discovered

“By the 13th century there are records of a water mill beside the Mersey in the village, and this continued grinding corn right up to its closure in 1890. It was demolished only as recently as 1952”.

Which is why our mill is firmly on the map in 1848
didsbury corn mill
I was particularly delighted with this guide to the towers

And now for the statistics:
Map: atoz137
Location: Didsbury, Manchester
A to Z: page 125 sq F6, page 137 sq F1,F2, G2, H3, G3, G4,
Getting there: bus to East Didsbury from Piccadilly Gardens or the airport train from Picadilly Use public tranport, plan your journey www.gmpte.com
Running total: 11squares
Liam does some Further Research:
We subsequently did some more research on this one, and found out that not only did Alderman Fletcher Moss have a late-flowering passion for the bicycle, he also had a terrier called Gober and an early-flowering passion for collecting local folktales. And his parsonage was haunted, and the gates that lured us in used to be known locally as the Gates to Hell. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

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October 16, 2007 at 12:39 am 1 comment

In which they do not discover a boggart

by Liam

I recently became aware that Rosie, who I used to work with, has an unusual hobby. She goes A to Zedding with her boyfriend Doug.

It appears that they invented this hobby entirely themselves, or at least no one else has a website about it. They describe it pretty well on their site:

‘A-to-Zedding is much more than just a hobby. It’s an intellectual, spiritual and deeply personal pastime. The A-to-Zedder’s dream is to visit and gain a deep understanding of every “square” in their chosen A-Z map.’

Marie and I decided to give it a go, giving us a convenient excuse to explore Manchester a bit more thoroughly. If it doesn’t turn out to be a passing fad for us, we’ll make it a proper blog of its own, but for now I’m hosting the words and she’s hosting the pictures.

So we started last Sunday, by looking through the A to Z for somewhere to visit. (Discovering in the process that my A to Z is 15 years old, and narrowly avoiding heading out in search of a mill on the Mersey that no longer exists. I now have A to Z envy, since Marie’s is both spiral bound and was made in this century.)

From a number of places chosen principally for their amusing names, we narrowed it down to Boggart Hole Clough, a park in Blackley, a northern suburb of Manchester.

Here it is:
boggart hole clough

It’s a bit of a bus ride out of town, especially on a grey Sunday. On the way, we saw:

Pigeons John Swift Conservative Club
– pigeons having a meeting on the roof of a smart old building;
– evidence that Conservatives, who must be in a bit of a minority in northern Manchester, are banding together for safety.

Clough gates
Then we found the clough, which is basically a mix of a country park with a city park. Country because it has a ravine running through it. (‘Clough’ is a local word for ravine, the helpful signs told us. They also said it was a ‘semi-wilderness’, which was stretching things somewhat.) City because it also has sports fields and a boating lake and graffiti and stuff.

Do not fail to keep a dog on a lead
We were rather alarmed by this. However, we failed to keep a dog on a lead, or to remove any faeces, at any point during our visit, and didn’t get into any trouble.

It’s very pretty and, OK, a bit wild:

Boggarty woods Fallen tree 2 Buried fence

Our mission wasn’t just to look at the pretty woods, though. We’d been charged by to take a picture of a boggart. We took the search for signs of boggarts very seriously. (That’s me inspecting a suspected boggart-proof fence up there.)

We found several bridges, which looked like potential boggart holes (”look under the bridges that’s where they hide”):

Boggarty bridge Very boggarty bridge Boggart Hole Clough stream Dark boggart bridge Bogghart's home

We looked for boggarts under the first bridge and found none. When we found the bridge on the right, though, we realised no self-respecting boggart would have lived under the first one.

More to the point, though the boggart wasn’t home, we found some boggart leavings. Clearly, boggarts share a taste in cider with tramps and students (click for a bigger picture):
Boggart leavings

Then there was some more pretty:
Red plant Autumn leaves Autumn leaves 2 Pretty tree

We walked for a while up the clough (well, along the side of it to be fair, but it sounds ruder this way). And we came to a boating lake with pointy-headed ducks on it, and a very ugly building beyond it (Marie thinks it looks like a comprehensive school, but the A to Z disagrees and the A to Z Does Not Lie (or hers doesn’t, anyway)):
Boating lake Pointy-headed duck Ugly building
We had a little rest and a smackerel of something. Bizarrely, the smackerel came wrapped in a treatise on love: Strange chocolate wrapper

And the bench we sat on triggered my inner punctuation Nazi:

“Linda”. Allegedly.

But this is an A to Zedding blog, not an excuse to join these fine people and start up a quotation marks protection society, so I shall desist. So, walking around the lake, we found a little boathouse, because finding things from the A to Z is the point.
Boathouse

Then came the best bit. There’s an athletics track with a big fence around it, which is clearly not a rabbit-proof fence:
Rabbits 3 Rabbit Rabbits again

There was even a little babby one!
Babby rabbit with friend
Someone had put out bits of carrot for them, and once they realised we were just going to make high-pitched cooing noises and take photos from the far side of a fence rather than eating them, they went about their business as normal.

Shortly afterwards, there were some steps that went to nowhere. Or perhaps it was an amphitheatre for boggarts:
Steps - or boggart amphitheatre?

We climbed a very steep hill, then saw some boggart boys taking the easy way down:
Extreme skateboarding

At the top was a war memorial. There were lots of very Northern names on the side of it:
War memorial names

and some rather more unexpected names:
Victor Pomfret and Plato Postlethwaite

On top was a statue:
War memorial lady 4 War memorial lady
who turned out, on closer inspection, to be very scantily clad and smuggling peanuts:
War memorial lady 5, note smuggled peanuts
Well, it was a bit nippy. Should have put a jumper on.

On the way back to the bus stop, ms_lilith decided that she wanted to live here:
Nice house
It has very steep steps to keep boggarts out.

We had a debate over whether it’s best to do some research about a Zedding destination before or after attempting it. We did it afterwards this time, and found some interesting stories about boggarts. And cloughs. And beer:

Wiki on Boggarts
Wiki on Boggart Hole Clough
Boggart Hole Clough at Mysterious Britain
Beer and Boggarts

So, that was our first Zedding trip. Watch this space to see if we can be arsed to do it again. I hope we can.

And do tell us if this is a self-indulgent ramble and we need to restrain ourselves when blogging our Zedding in future.

Location: Boggart Hole Clough, Blackley, Manchester
A to Z: page 83 squares G1, H1, G2, H2
Google Map: 
Getting there: bus numbers 17 and 118 from the rochdale road. Use public tranport, plan your journey: www.gmpte.com

October 12, 2007 at 12:40 am 2 comments


Running Total

135 squares

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