11 Facts About River Irwell


River Irwell is a tributary of the River Mersey in north west England.

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River Irwell became severely polluted by industrial waste in the Industrial Revolution, but in the second half of the 20th century a number of initiatives were implemented to improve water quality, restock it with fish and create a diverse environment for wildlife.

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The River Irwell is used for recreational activities, such as pleasure cruising, rowing, racing, swimming and fishing.

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Until the early 19th century the River Irwell was well stocked with fish and other wildlife, with people living near Manchester Cathedral using its water for drinking and other domestic purposes.

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Origins of the name "River Irwell" are uncertain but many accept the Anglo-Saxon origin, ere-well, meaning "hoar or white spring".

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Salford was one of the first authorities in the River Irwell watershed to install intercepting sewers and sewage treatment works at Mode Wheel Sewage works.

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River Irwell was awarded a number of medals including the gold and silver medals from the Humane Society for the Hundred of Salford, and the Royal Humane Society's bronze medal.

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At Bacup the headwater of the River Irwell is discoloured by ochre deposits from a disused mine but work is being done to stop the ochre seepage.

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Iron oxide from old mine workings near the source at River Irwell Springs had polluted the water since 1969 and in 1997 a Coal Authority survey identified the stretch as having the fourth worst case of minewater pollution in the country.

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In 1721, Parliament authorised the alteration with the Mersey and River Irwell Navigation Act, and by 1736 work had been completed by creating eight canal locks along the 20-mile route from Warrington to Manchester, allowing access to boats of up to 51 tonnes.

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Lower reaches of the River Irwell have flooded many times in its history, the most well documented being the floods of 1866,1946,1954,1980,2007,2015 and 2020.

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