Monday, 21 March 2016

Bush fire

We’re staying on the mooring In Leigh and therefore decided to go for a local walk.  Actually I decided we would walk the towpath to Plank Lane with the intention of checking mooring space and visiting the local recycling centre to see if they would take the waste engine oil.    There were more boats at Plank Lane than when we last came this way in the middle of summer.  I guess this is due to the proximity of the CRT water point and self pump-out facilities.  The nearby car park may also be an attraction.

Upon reaching the entrance to the recycle centre we discovered numerous “No Pedestrian Access” signs.  I wasn’t going to breach any safety rules so we didn’t enter. Obviously the only way to deliver recycle waste is by vehicle.

A different route on the way back enabled us to see more of Pennington Flash.  At the time I didn’t know it was Pennington Flash but guessed it was formed by mining subsidence.

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Wikipedia reports the lake was formed by subsidence around the beginning of the last century.  It’s now one of England’s premier locations for bird watching.  The lake and adjacent land forms the 200 hectare Pennington Flash Country Park.

We could see some smoke rising from the far side of the lake and decided to walk via that location.  Along the way we noticed the boats of Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club.

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We discovered the smoke was from a small bush fire burning through the undergrowth.  The fire was just starting to grow when we arrived, however son found an old rubber wellie and started to smother the larger flames whilst I stamped on the smaller edges.  It took approximately 20 minutes to extinguish the fire and with our luck two more people arrived just as were were departing. 

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If you look at the skyline Leigh’s mill history is rather obvious.  The area was mostly agricultural until the beginning of the industrial revolution.  Many of the farm workers then started to subsidise their income by spinning and weaving cloth.  Raw material was brought to the area by agents from Manchester who also purchased the finished cloth.  The invention of the power loom destroyed the local industry so the weavers turned to silk weaving.  At the beginning of the 19th century silk and cotton mills were built in Leigh which caused further hardship to the local workforce.  During the second half of the 19th century underground coal mines were established in the area.  These were wet mines which had an underground canal to drain them and steam powered pumps to remove the water, some of which went into the canal.  The Bridgewater Canal was obviously used to convey materials to and from the mills and take the coal from the nearby mines.

Leigh still has five mills, although none of them are working.  I hadn’t realized that the ubiquitous David Brown tractors were made in Leigh.  

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