The River Irwell

riverirwellI must have ten years of age, when I saw, for the fist time, a clean, clear, and unpolluted river. This was during a trip to Scotland with the Boy Scouts. Up until then my experience of rivers, a river, had been confined to looking down upon the surface of The River Irwell. Not that the surface water was generally visible. The turgid flow was overlaid with a deep crust of detergent effluent. An acrid smell. The noxious overlay audibly popped and bubbled. Usually, a colour with a palate ranging from off-white to leprous yellow.

Gazing down at The Irwell from Broughton Bridge, or on my way to school, crossing The Hough Lane Footbridge, it was a vista that held a peculiar fascination. For me, at that time, it was all I knew about rivers. Looking back, I remember using The Hough Lane Footbridge as a trysting spot with one of my very first girl friends - almost pure Ewan MacColl Progress is a concept that at times is hard to believe in. Yet, the transformation of The River Irwell demonstrates that, change for the better, can and does, occasionally occur.