Manchester Geographical Society

North West Geography


Volume 18, Number 2, 2018

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Mapping the Rise and Fall of Ancoats Hall

A sequence of maps focused on Ancoats Hall is used to chart the fluctuating fortunes of the hall. It had been a 17th century building built by the Mosley family, sited in a rural setting facing the River Medlock. Replaced with a new building in the early 1820s by the textile magnate George Murray, the hall was rapidly engulfed by the industrial expansion of Ancoats leaving it hemmed into grim industrial surroundings. In the 20th century, the local philanthropist Thomas Horsfall used it as an art museum which aimed to enrich the lives of the poor, and it was joined by the first university settlement outside London which used both the hall and the nearby Round House to provide accommodation for activities that brought together local residents with university staff and students. Both buildings have now been demolished. Their legacy is the array of maps and plans that plot the hall's history.

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Radiocarbon constraints on historical peat accumulation rates and atmospheric deposition of heavy metals at Holcroft Moss, Warrington

Peat bog records of environmental change from the industrial heartland of NW England are rare, precisely because industrial activity and urbanisation have often destroyed or truncated the stratigraphical record of recent times. Here, we present new stratigraphical, radiocarbon and heavy metal (Pb and Cu) data for the near-surface peat layers of Holcroft Moss, a lowland raised bog located near Warrington, Cheshire. Based on the radiocarbon data and informed by down-core changes in bulk density, we derive an age-depth model for peat accumulation during the last ca. 700 years and use the resulting accumulation rates to derive estimates of historical Pb and Cu deposition at the site. The study reveals the legacy of the Industrial Revolution in terms of peat stratigraphy, peat accumulation rates and heavy metal deposition. Deposition of Pb and Cu peaked in the late 19th to early 20th century, reaching 122 and 50 mg m-2 yr-1 respectively, and the timing and magnitude of flux changes can be linked to developmental stages in the industrialisation of the Mersey basin and urban expansion of Liverpool and Manchester. The study confirms the high value of the site as an archive of regional environmental change through the Industrial Revolution.

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KEITH SUTTON 1943 -2018

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