In which they discover a Victorian mansion and a mill that isn’t there
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.
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.
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”.
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?
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:
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?
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.
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.
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
I was particularly delighted with this guide to the towers
And now for the statistics:
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.