The Secret Path (Springwater Park, Whitefield)

This doesn’t look very inviting, does it?

This pile of branches and overgrown weeds is sandwiched in between a row of shops and the entrance to a street, just round the corner from where I live. I walk past it all the time.

Today, I went for a walk down the street next to this mess. I’d discovered there are some allotments near here and I wanted to find out excatly where they are. The street consists of a long row of terraced houses and I walked up the track behind them leading to their garages, as I though this might reveal the allotment entrance.

Before I’d got far along the track, I realised that behind the pile of branches and rubbish was a path.

So, I climbed over that little mound of earth here, and had a look……

…it still didn’t look great – it’s hard to see from the photo below, but amongst the twigs on the ground is broken glass and rubbish. But I carried on…….

Still wasn’t looking brilliant (left), obviously some people have used the area as a bit of a dumping ground, but a bit further on…..

…………is this……………………….

and a bit further on, just after a rabbit ran abross the road in front of me, this………………….

I hadn’t realised that the pile of branches near my house, hid a path leading down to Springwater Park, a wooded clough which then turns into grassy fields on the banks of the River Irwell. I knew the park was there, I’ve been there many times, but not so much recently, as one of the entrances is blocked off due to extensive water pipeline works going on.

Having seen quite a few dog walkers using the path, it seems it’s not a secret to everyone. I also saw a few groups of young lads and a few empty cider cans, so I suspect it’s a popular hideout for the youths of the area too. But it was a new find for me, even though I’ve lived here for 8 years!

The whole place is one of those areas that is mostly known just to locals. Nothing much comes up if you google it, apart from the pipeline works. You can’t see it from any of the main roads in the area, even though there’s an entrance (currently out of use) on Radcliffe New Road, until you venture down the path, you wouldn’t have a clue what was down there.

It’s the perfect example of Secret Britain.

This post is part of The Gallery.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Whitefield Parks. Bookmark the permalink.

105 Responses to The Secret Path (Springwater Park, Whitefield)

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention My post for Gallery, The Secret Path: --

  2. Wow – you were brave climbing through this! I normally cut down the side and join the path further along.

    By the way – the allotments are at the top of Springwater park. Accessed from Brierley Avenue. My plot is number 45! πŸ˜‰

    • parklover says:

      Hi Liz – yes, I cut onto the path down the side as well – I really never realised you could get through before, thought the whole thing was blocked off! I found the allotments too, it looks a lovely spot.

  3. MrsW says:

    How exciting – I do mean that – sadly when I go retracing the paths of my childhood through our village, edging the fields and through the woods, I keep coming across housing developments nobody told me about 😦 It’s almost impossible to traverse an asphalt free path these days.

    • parklover says:

      That’s sad. I remember when I was a moody teen, I announced I was going up the road to be on my own and feed the horses. My mum reminded me that the field at the top of the road had become a housing estate. That didn’t help my moodiness!

  4. Red Ted Art says:

    Wow! Great that you decided to “explore” – you surely were rewarded!!!! πŸ˜‰ hidden gems.

    • parklover says:

      Indeed – I found lots of bluebells about to flower down there – but not as many as in your photo I don’t think!

  5. bsouth says:

    I think I might have given up a lot earlier than you. Well done for finding your own secret path. How exciting!

    • thats not quite right i traversed that path years ago been there bomb shelters chemical riddled pond that turned a guys hair green had some fun in that woods next to the irwell used to live on nipper lane

  6. Christian says:

    I paid a nostalgic visit to Whitefield recently and had a wander into the beautiful and secluded Springwater Park but the footpath towards Bury seems to disappear in the woodlands and leads nowhere. The OS map show a path that runs up to Manchester New Road (A56) but I couldn’t find. Once I got into the woodland the path disappeared. Anyone know where the North entrance to the park is?

    • David Lomax says:

      I’ve tried doing this as well and without success, but not for a long time. The wall on the main road looks pretty impregnable anyway, so I don’t know why the footpath is shown on the map!

    • leon james says:

      Its behind the nursing home on bury rd, go up the hill and turn right, then follow the road, you will come to a metal gate and your there

  7. chrisy says:

    Hi guys ive been going in spring water park for 30 years. The the two ponds at the bottom of the path used to be a dye works. It was demolished and just left to nature. Its a good thing as there full of newts and toads. Try going in early spring at night with a torch i do it every year. Its a shame people use it as a dumping ground. Im thinking of cleaning the place up myself.

    • David Lomax says:

      I’d be interested in helping clear up rubbish – it would be best before the trees come back into leaf, I suppose…

  8. JOHN TROTTER says:

    to you all ppl who use the park ??? its abt tme that lake got cleared out !! it was a favourite pass time of mine when i was younger .we used to spend hours fishing the lake and it kept me and a few out of trouble . if you have any views of the lake I.E photo’s etc then put them on here . and i must stress the lake is in a DANGEROUS condition , it is 3 feet thick in mud and needs clearing out .. if you wuold like to see it back to its glory and have some beauty back in the park then get onto GRAHAM SCHOON @ bury council … head of the parks dept .. the sooner it is done the better then your dogs and self will not be in danger of infection from nasty parasitic flies that cause malaria ..

    • Parklover says:

      Hi john, thanks for commenting. That part of the park is in a sorry state with all the rubbish dumped. I don’t know as much about the lake as you obviously do, but I think that there have been some BCTV volunteers working to clear it recently – at least I saw that it had been planned, I don’t know how much was done. Perhpas when all the current pipeline work has been completed, and the park can be used properly again it would be a good time to clear up that area.

  9. Jane Heywood says:

    Springwater Park: My family started there at Springwater Cottage, my great grandfather was sent there by Lord Derby to work as a caretaker for the ‘works’ I assume that was the dye worls near behind. Anybody got any info pics of the era 1959-1966 please let me know. I am trying to find out about the works and the big house that used to be there. I went to visit in 2007 but could not recognise any of it other than at the very top at Spring Bank (?) and only know about the dye works from Old Maps .com . I used to take a side path down by the field to visit gran/grand dad Heywood in c1959 as we lived over on Malton Avenue. Another lifetime ago it seems . I even have a photo of the cottgae if anybody is interested.

    • Parklover says:

      Hi Jane, I’ll see if I can find anything out for you. I’ve only lived in the area about 9 years, so it’s lovely to here from someone who has a history in the area.

    • Colin chambers says:

      Hello Jane, I am into the family History of Chambers’only last week i visted spring water of Lily hill st .The Spring water Bleach works was owed once by R&A chambers the sons of william chambers from 1870s to the early 1900s,there where three houses inthe area where the Chambers family lived Spring Bank; which i took a photo of while i was there but Spring Water House & Spring water Cottage as you know are no longer there i would really appreciate a copy of Spring Water cottage to add to the family History . Regards Colin

      • Jane Heywood says:

        Hi Colin,
        I have 2 pics of Springwater cottage. I acquired the second pic recently from my cousin as she knows more about my family and has umpteen pics as uncle had them prior. My email is and if you just contact me through there I shall send you the pics via email. I did find the Chambers connection and only very recently found that when my GG dad died his death cert said he was a ‘caretaker, Works’ so I am thinking this must have been the dye/bleach works. Keep me up to date on what you find please. I vaguely remember the days then as it was c1959-66 when gran/pa lived there, retired by then. I always wanted to see the house ‘in the woods’ behind the cottage but was banned as I think it was probably derelict at that time. My sister did have a snippet of info that you may be able to follow up: She found somewhere that a family called Rusden lived in the big house behind our cottage and the last son committed suicide in a hotel in Manchester during the WWII, I could not find anything on Rusden as it’s remotely an Asian name as a first name so the search engines came up zilch.
        I remember the big house Spring Bank ,it was at the top of the road that led down to the cottage/house. The big wall round it is so familiar. I went there in 07 and all that reminded me of the old days was the opening in the fence where we used to take the short cut by the side of the field. I am thinking if you remember all this you must be around my age and may have kown my family?? Dad (Ken Heywood) used to frequent the Cross Keys pub in Lily Hill Street -when he took us to see Gran/pa, I also remember the big landfill type ‘tip’ further over, near the end of Lily Hill street then, it was visible from Gran’s cottage but far enough away not to be an eye sore -if you have cataracts! Didn’t bother us as we played by the cottage as gran had chickens, it was wonderful there -far from the madding crowd. I still love the countryside and cottages after years of living in London and down here, I am in Sussex by the sea.
        OK Colin get back to me and I shall send you the pics by return.

      • Andrew higginson says:


        I’m Radcliffe born, brought up on diners lane so familiar with spring water park as it was just over the river from close park, where we spent many a long summer day as kids. We also spent many an hour playing on bealeys black works, probably very similar to chambers in its day. The reason I write is that I met a friend if a friend skiing in Austria, a lad nowbas d in Yorkshire formerly of Radcliffe named Chris chambers. In conversation Chris told me

    • dave thompson says:

      Hi Jane I remember the early sixties there was a house where the land has been cleared and now is a grassy area was once a woods.If you went towards radcliffe new road you came across the old mill which then was amost complete.

  10. Great Stuff Park Lover.

    We are currently investigating the Roman Road that cut across Springwater Park. The Romans made a cutting in Sailor Brows behind Cromwell Road and ran the road down on a ramp ( still visible ) to the river.
    United Utilities and the East-West Link Pipeline are stopping us getting in at the moment. I hope they are going to re-instate the path and clear up the mess.Something we have to keep an eye on and chivvy Bury Council to insist on a full reinstatement of the Park.

    • Parklover says:

      I still use the park a lot, accessing it from Nipper Lane or Lily Hill Street. It’s a beautiful place, let’s hope it is retored after the works are complete.

      • David Lomax says:

        I live round the corner from the path in the photos and work at the other end of Springwater Park (Radcliffe entrance).
        I’ve been involved for the last few weeks in a Friends of Coronation Park group. This is supported by the Council through the Ranger Service, although things are rather unsettled at the moment because of two Rangers being made redundant, including the one who used to look after Coronation Park, Close Park (in Radcliffe) and Springwater Park. It looks as if the pipeline work may be coming to an end (the land around the end of the tunnel N. of Radcliffe New Road is no longer being worked on at least), so I’ve wondered if it might be a good time to approach the Council about all of the things people are discussing here re Springwater Park, including trying to get more historical information re the old works. (United Utilities website doesn’t have any up-to-date info. but does talk about consulting the Council re landscaping when the work is finished). If anyone local would be interested in a formal “Friends of Springwater Park” group, please say, but a less formal approach might be just as effective, or possibly even more so… (“secret” is probably the right word – Bury Council doesn’t mention Springwater Park in its list of parks on its website…).

      • Parklover says:

        Hi David – the lack of mention for Springwater Park is why this post seems to attract so many comments from people interested in the park. That’s bad news about the ranger especially as s/he was already covering three different parks.

    • David Lomax says:

      Really interested to hear about the Roman Road. Has there ever been any sort of dig in Springwater Park?

  11. Anne says:

    I live in Middleton Road and our house backs onto the park and have lived there for 7 years but never knew there were allottments at the top. Found out when looking at an aerial view of our house.

    • Parklover says:

      Hi Anne – I’ve lived near the park for nearly 10 years and only realised the allotments were there a few months ago when I googled allotments in Bury! AMazing what’s on your doorstep.

  12. BELINDA says:

    hi,everybody,just been reading all your fascinating information about springwater park,i was just wondering if anyboby could help me,i have a pony which is stabled at old hall farm,its right next to the jewish graveyard,i would like to know if there is a way i can get to springwater park through the countryside,or even if we rode down the roads,to get to springwater park,then we were able to ride back across the fields,to get back to old hall farm,or if anybody knows any different routes we could take to get there,i would greatly appreciate anybodys ideas,thankyou regards belinda.

    • Parklover says:

      Just to reply to you Belinda, I can’t give you any better advice than David. I found cycling maps from sustrans a big help in finding off road trails for running, but I’m not sure how suitable they are for horses. It’s difficult to link trails up without going on the roads for at least part of your journey – as David says.

  13. David Lomax says:

    Hi Belinda,
    I’m not sure how easy it will be for you to ride to Springwater Park without going most of the way on the road. I often run between there and Old Hall Lane, but that’s on footpaths rather than bridleways. There is the remains of a cobbled road (Nursey Brow on the maps) which goes round the bottom end of Stand Golf Course and joins Outwood Road and Stand Lane (near enough). That would bring you out fairly close to Hollinhurst Road which leads down to near the western (Radcliffe) end of Springwater Park. However, there are a couple of problems with that, as Nursery Brow is quite steep at either end and the western entrance of the park is probably still officially out of use as they’re finishing re-instating various bits of land after the pipeline work and there’s still quite a bit of contractor traffic going down what used to be a path but is now very much a track.

    The only alternative to this is to go all the way from the end of Old Hall Lane on the road, and, at least until the work is all finished, you’d probably need to enter off Lily Hill Street, which would involve going down Ringley Road and Dales Lane or Church Lane (maybe going via Park Lane and Higher Lane would be better as it’s not much further). I don’t think I’d fancy that on a pony with the traffic, but then I’m not used to horses.

    Having run quite a lot over that way and into Philips Park, I’m wondering if you’ve explored in that direction. Phillips Park Road takes you down to the old railway line to Radcliffe via Wood Street which is accessible to horses and I think you can go over the motorway bridge into the park. Perhaps you know that like the back of your hand and fancy a change…

    All the best with your plans.

    • BELINDA says:

      thankyou parklover and david,it is very kind of you both to take the time to reply,we always ride down the nature trail,or over where the thirteen arches are and we have explored all that area,we rode over the bridge to forest bank prison,then along the path,that would take you back to clifton marina,or up onto the canal,but again that is a dead end for ponies,so when we went to springwater park,which we have never been to in the car,i was hoping to find out where it went to and if ponies were allowed,again i thank you both for taking the time to reply,kind regards,belinda.

  14. Colin chambers says:

    Hi ,everybody can anyone tell me where i can get hold of a picture of Springwater Bleach works tred various places with out any luck. regards colin

    • Rick Holt says:

      Hi Colin,see my post at the bottom,Cheers Rick

      • Jane Heywood says:

        I can’t find your post Rick, have you any pics of the old dye/bleach works?? I have not looked at this site for over 2yrs now and so a tad out of touch with new posts. I am still trying to find pics of the works and other houses around there. I only remember the cottage where my gran lived.

    • Jane Heywood says:

      Hi Colin, you may recall we were in touch c2012 but I have since moved to France retired. Now I am back on the roll..History like you of the bleach/dye works. I even had emails from an elderly chap telling me a bit more, no pics though. I shall send them as I still have your old email. Did you ever find any pics or more info on the works? I did find out that my great grandfather was a caretaker there before his demise, he was living at the Springwater cottage later in life.

  15. Rose says:

    Hi, we have been walking our dogs in Springwater Park for 15 years and we love the place. We were told by a retired fireman that during the second world war, the bleach works were signed over to the war department and it came under the official secrets act because they manufactured the chemical water (called heavy water) that was used in the Barnes Wallace bouncing bomb! How true this is, we do not know. We have also been told by another local that the area was bought some years ago with a view to developing however was prevented due to contamination issues. Again, this report is unsubstantiated. Thought we would share this with you and perhaps someone can either verify this info or set the record straight. Regards, Rose

    • Jane Heywood says:

      Hi Rose,
      Please do tell me the man’s name (ex Fireman) who told you about the works being used to create the heavy water for the bouncing bomb. Was he old? It may have been my father as he ‘forbid’ me going anywhere near the house or the works when I was a child.

  16. Jane Heywood says:

    Hi Rose,
    When were you told by the reitued ‘fireman’ about the works? I ask because my father was a fireman in the 50’s and though he now lives in Rochdale I wondered when he told you this as it may well have been him if it was late 50’s. I am not surprised if the works was used to make th filling for the bouncing bomb, you never know, how would he have learned that if there was not some truth ot it? Will pass this onto a faily member of the Chambers family.

  17. Colin chambers says:

    Hi Rose & Jane, Interesting reading about the Bleach works , does anybody know what year the bleach works was demolished, i spoke to the United Utilities over the pipe line through Springwater park hoping they had taken photos but they assured me the works was already demolished by then. Perhaps it might pay to put a advert in the Bury evening post to see if anyone might have a photo or shed some light on it,..Regards Colin

  18. David Lomax says:

    Hello, Rose, Jane & Colin and anyone else,
    I have a copy of an old map of Unsworth and SE Radcliffe dated 1932. This shows Spring Water Bleach Works occupying the site next to the river, which is now only detectable through the remaining gatepost(s?). Spring Clough Bleach and Dye Works is shown on the same map below the two ponds/reservoirs which are still more or less in existence and through which water still flows. At the top of the cobbled track leading to and from this site i.e. opposite the Goat’s Gate pub, a sign is still visible which reads Berk Spencer Acids Division and (I think) The Clough, although I’m not sure about that. I’ve tried Googling Berk Spencer but haven’t got very far, I’m afraid. There are quite a few remains of walls visible below and around the ponds. Sorry I can’t give any info. about when any of these works stopped being used, but a date after 1932 would obviously link in with the idea of war-time use.

    • Parklover says:

      Hi all,
      I can’t comment on the history of the site, but I can confirm that David is right – the gate post at the top of the track does have “The Clough” written on it.
      So glad people are finding this site useful as a place to share information about Springwater Park.

  19. Jane Heywood says:

    Hi Colin,
    If I had to summise I would say it was demolished c1959 because my brother and sister used to get bones fron the butchers for the Alsations that belonged to security guards who occupied the site and this was around the time 1957 -1959 so I reckon it was demolished after that time as I never saw it when I went back home to live and visited Gran down there .So their feeding the dogs – for 1/- a time must have been when i lived with my uncle and that was from 55-c58. You can find out from that Grace’s guide online I am sure, if yo can navigate it, but I just kept coming back to the beginning. Try Old Maps .com as they have the maps of that area for all earas and when you choose one c1960 see if the works are on the maps still. A case of illimination.

  20. Jane Heywood says:

    There were many bleach and dye works, Springwater was kust one of many, have alook at old ,aps c1900 -1940 and you can see them, there was also a railway line that ran along the Irwell seomwhere but not sure which bank, Railways were used a lot then for moving things in industry. There again old maps .com will show you.

  21. Jane Heywood says:

    I replied just now but do excuse my typo’s I am rushing and forgot to check. Look at the website Old and you can see so much detail of the area.

  22. colin says:

    Hi, my name is Colin and am a local to the area of Whitefield. I have lived in the Whitefield area all my life, and am aware of Springwater park; have visited it many times. It’s a ‘breath of fresh air’, an escapism from the rat-race of the hustle and bustle of life!
    Learning of allotments within Springwater park, I am really interested in getting involved with the allotments and would be ever so grateful if anyone could give me any information, regarding the allotments.. I thank you so much for the input of information regarding Springwater park, fascinating; peace to all… Colin

    • Parklover says:

      Hi Colin, great to hear from yet another fan of Springwater Park. The allotments are next to the park rather than it, but it’s a lovely setting. Please follow this link which will take you to the council’s webpage on allotments. If you scroll down, you’ll find the contact details for Nipper Lane allotments, as they’re called. I believe there’s a waiting list for allotments.
      You may be interested in the work of Incredible Edible Prestwich and District, a group of local gardeners doing brilliant work on community allotments and gardens, including at Philips Park in Whitefield. They have a website which you can check out with this link.
      All the best, Kath

  23. Steve says:

    If you follow the river towards bury it splits in two, continue on and you will come across a old bridge. Many local people believe this to be a old Roman bridge, hope its still there this was sometime ago. Continue on and you come to blackford bridge.

    The path which is over grown did take you to the works and if you take a look in the woods to the left after tje ponds you will find many remains plus if i can remember railway lines. At the blackford bridge end of the irwell are also remains of something.

  24. Steve says:

    hope this helps

  25. leon jamea says:

    When you go down this path, theres a small building, that looks like its buried. I’ve looked everywhere but cant find out what it is, do you know? Also if you go over the swamp there are what looks to be building fondations and a wall, any ideas. Oh ye at blackford bridge if you go down the path, near the half demolished bridge, there looks to be train tracks.

    • leon jamea says:

      Lol I need to start scrolling down… Nevr mind

      • Jane Heywood says:

        Look at my emails rgarding the buildings, may have been my gran’s cottage or an oubuilding but she had chiken coops and they were wood. There was a railway that ran by there bfore the turn of the century which would have been used to transport cargo from the works and other works.
        Look at the site called ‘old maps’ as they have some fantastic older maps and you can choose the era.

  26. M45 says:

    Excellent blog post and some great comments.

    Does anyone know what the small detached building covered in graffiti and looking fairly weathered near the car park is/was? Looks like a store/possible shelter or maybe old toilets, although it seems strange that any of these would be here and it does seem a little out of place.

    Interesting comments re: the bleach works- would be keen to know more about the history of this.

    Also, has anyone noticed on google earth/multi map that the wooded area south of the park contains a massive house (mansion size) literally on it’s own away from anywhere? Not clear how you get to it – one would assume the gate on springwater lane might lead to it but that’s only an educated guess.

    • Jane Heywood says:

      See my other postings above. If the house is still standing it may well be Springwater House, but I may be confusing where you mean. Do have a look at and choose any era up to 1950s and there was a ‘mansion’ where the Rusden family lived and the Bleach & Dye Works and further over a cottage (demolished postc1966) all were called Springwater. If you go again please take a picture, if I am thinking you are talking about the same house, I was sure it had all been demolished at the same time or even before my gran’s cottage. The last surviving Rusden lived at the house until 1920’s and later it was derelict esp in the 1950’s.

      • M45 says:

        Hi Jane, Unfortuantely a pic isn’t possible as you can’t get anywhere near the house either from the park or “the secret path”, I only know its there as it is clearly visible on google earth. It is to the east of where the bleach works will have been but on higher ground. I think you must get to it via gates on Sringwater lane.

    • Jane Heywood says:

      I think I have given you some info on the bleach/dye works but it was called R & A Chambers and the house Springwater House was owned by the Rusden family till after WWII. Perhaps an earlier letter on posts from a Rick Holt may help you, I haven’t been into Parklover for a couple of years now and so just recapping – or hoping someone might have a pic of the old dye/bleach works or any info other than what I have acquired via this site and some posts. I guess there must be photography out there somewhere.

  27. M45 says:

    Further to my last post from a couple of weeks ago, I live and work locally to this secret path. Didnt feel too good at lunchtime today do went for a walk to get away from the office for a while… Found myself at the gate posts blocked by branches and remembering this post, I couldn’t resist finding my way onto the path and following it down into Springwater. Just assumed it would have been a muddy path but was surprised to notice its an actual cobblestoned road (albeit severely covered in mud and moss). It was fairly skippy and I nearly fell over on a couple of occasions but it’s a great little walk I’ll no doubt make again! Anyone doing the same though needs to be aware of how slippery the path is, particularly close to those abandoned ponds (which could be extremely dangerous having read the comments above).

    • Parklover says:

      I quite often run down the path although I haven’t been down for a few weeks – it’s not usually too bad, but I imagine would be ver muddy and slippery just now due to the amount of melted snow.

    • Jane Heywood says:

      If you go down to the woods today.. I am sure you won’t find any trace of the Springwater House or cottage as they have long gone, I know the cottage has anyway. Have you managed to take any pics of the viz you mention?? The only other buildings in the woods were the dye/bleach works of R&A Chambers and I guess they are long gone too -toxic??They were right near the river further away from the big house. Try searching the Rusden family and R&A Chambers family who owned the dye works and were somehow in biz with Rusdens.

  28. M45 says:

    Fair point – I also would have been wearing more appropriate footwear if it wasn’t such a sparodic decision to go down there. I’m also surprised to see no mention anywhere online of a Whitefield branch of “Berk Spencer Acids Limited”, so I’m wondering whether that sign relates to what was actually down the path or whether it’s just waste thats been thrown there along with all the branches to create a barrier. From memory from earlier, it also names a road that I didn’t recognise as being local.

    • M45 says:

      Have just looked at your top photo… The street named on the “Berk Spencer Acids” sign can be seen as Theodore Street. Now there isn’t a theodore street anywhere near that sign. Was there once a street of that name? If not (as I now think is more likely) I think that sign is from elsewhere, must have for some reason just been placed there at some point and has nothing to do with the bleach works or path.

      • David Lomax says:

        I think the Theodore reference is to a division within Berk Spencer Acids and I’ve always understood the “St.” therefore to be “Saint” rather than “Street”. However, I can’t find anything about the “Theodore St. Just Division” in Berk Spencer Acids by looking on the Internet. One source on the Net claims that Berk Spencer Acids only existed post-1970, which is difficult to square with previous comments on when the works was demolished. So on the one hand you may well be right about the sign coming from elsewhere, but it does also say “The Clough” on it. (It looks as if Berk Spencer may be the result of a merger between F.W. Berk & Co. and Spencer Chapman & Messel, both based in West Ham, as you’ve probably discovered).
        The Whitefield site on Wikipedia lists Spring Clough Works as belonging to the firm of John Brierley. Bury Archives has a reference to a deed mentioning John Brierley and the Earl of Derby dated 1925.
        The Prestwich and Whitefield Heritage Society website has a picture of Springwater Cottage dated 1940 – count the chimneys looking across the river…! (it’s no. 15 of 16 on the Whitefield page in the Gallery).
        Hope some of this may be of interest…
        (Going off at something of a tangent, I have recently been pondering – no pun intended – whether a very small-scale community hydroelectric project could be worth considering for Spring Clough – the flow of water seems pretty constant, but there are numerous other possible obstacles e.g. who owns the land, what contamination there may be, clearing trees/other vegetation, getting access for work to be done. I certainly wouldn’t want to affect the unspoilt nature of the place, espcially having disturbed a heron when it snowed recently, but I wonder if this might help make that part of the park more inviting. I don’t know if this interests anyone else at all)

  29. David Lomax says:

    I realised after writing the above that “The Clough” is on the gateposts not the sign – oops!

    • M45 says:

      Funnily enough I went for a walk near the sign at lunchtime today, had a look to see if it mentions the Clough and it doesn’t. However, the only reference I can find to Theodore St Just online is on this blog:

      You’ll see that the writer refers to a sketch he made from a map some time ago and that this sketch shows Theodore St Just works (which he suggests was a print works). This would suggest to me that there was a “Theodore St Just Division” somewhere down that path and therefore the sign does correspond to the path and a business that was once based down there. Would love to know more about the history of this works and would welcome any further information on it.

      • Jane Heywood says:

        There was obviously once a chemical works down there called Theodore St Just & Co Ltd., put this name in the search engine and you will be surpirsed as what comes up, they ‘made’ and/or supplied such chemical compounds (or whatever the scientists call them) as Tetradecyl aldehyde,stennous 2, ethyl hexoate which I seem to read they used in toxicology testing on rats and rabbits. No wonder they have gone now with all the animal rights folks out there. All a bit vague but that was the name of the firm. The plot thickens as the dye works which had also been before/after a dye works may have been a front runner for this company. Is this the same location?

  30. M45 says:

    Interesting, googling that takes you to a paper that refers to that company being a “wholly owned subsidiary” of a company with Spencer in it’s name (which much have subsequently been renamed Berk Spencer Acids. So it seems there was an acid/chemical production company down there which the bleach works probably developed into as the sites business activities diversified. Fascinating what local history is on your doorstep and amazing that this research has been triggered by some text on a battered old sign!

    • Jane Heywood says:

      We still domn’t know exactly what the men were ‘guarding’ back in c1958?? Have you spoke to any really oldre people in the vicinity and see what they can remember from the old days around WWII onwards. The input from ‘Rose’ and her comment about a retired fireman told her that they did this and that down there, you may find some more info. Also the family Rusden that lived at the big house near the bleach works, there must be someone local who knows of them as they would have been influential at that time up to WWII when the factory was no longer in operation.

  31. Wingate says:

    Just to add to the post i live across the road from the sign/ old works on Wingate Drive which was built 1955 and walk the my dog down the park, there is a air photograph of the area you are talking about. Mounted on the walls of Morrison’s supermarket it is Pre War and gives really good detail of Whitefield the Goats Gate when it was a coach house, whitefield cuttings and tunnel, and the local area without the trees that we see today.Just lots of fields well worth a look. Hope this Helps

    • Parklover says:

      Thanks for commenting – there are a number of old photos in Morrisons copied from a local historians collection. He writes a weekly column in the Prestwich and Whitefield Advertiser if anyone’s interested.

    • M45 says:

      Hi, thanks for this comment Wingate – have seen the aerial pic in Morrisons (I think it’s the one with the cutting clearly shown – near the escalators down to the car park)… Have only ever had a quick look at it as I get told off my the Mrs for being a geek when I do… Need to go shopping without the “ball and chain” at some point to study it properly!

      • Jane Heywood says:

        I will never understand why it is assumed ‘odd’ to appreciate history of an area where one was born. You go shopping on your tod and get a good look, please ask where they got it from as I would like to know. See my reply to Wingate re old maps site. The area has changed immensly since 1958 when my gran lived at the cottage Springwater Cottage. All that area and fields is covered with overgrowth now, all that remains is the gateway and stone tank/trough. Sad but that is life.

    • Jane Heywood says:

      Thanks for the snippet. I wish I could go and look at the map in Morrisons but I am c300 miles away in Sussex,. Perhaps if you use Morrisons you could ask who provided the map and/or could one get copies. The other useful site is but you have to buy now as they won’t allow downloads/copying but you can view the area from all era’s going right back. The site is not as good as it used to be.

    • M45 says:

      Continuing my fascination with this (which breaks up demanding work quite nicely), have just been to Morrisons for a sandwich and made the effort to study the aerial photo mentioned… While by the point of springwater park the angle of the photo isn’t ideal, there appears to be 2 seperate works in what we now know as springwater park. So you can clearly see what must be Theodore St Just and possibly another firm further into the park (unless Theodore had 2 large seperate buildings with 2 seperate chimneys). Wonder what other information is available locally in places you wouldn’t even think about!

      • Jane Heywood says:

        Yes there were plenty of places (works) round there at the time, if you see my photo of 1940 there are more chimneys than a Lowry painting ! They were over the other side of the Irwell and not Springwater side. Do please send me the pic if you can and any other info. I am on so any info we can exchange will be good. You can also try the Bury Times as they have some good archives. Try looking for the Rusden family who lived at the big house and were ‘managing directors’ of the Bleach Works till it closed late 30’s.

  32. Phil Cookson says:

    Hi guys,

    Just to let you know, I was down the park yesterday with my dog, coming up from the park, past the old clough dye works, towards radcliffe new road. I was amazed to see an actual real life deer down there, hidden away in the undergrowth.

    Once it spotted the dog it got up and happily bounded away into the trees like Bambi. Such a wonderful site for a sunday afternoon

    • David Lomax says:

      A few months ago a deer came onto Wingate Drive – I presume it just kept on going up from the park and got funneled up the path and then across the main road and up the ginnel next to the Goat’s Gate. I missed seeing it but the neighbours were all talking about it when I came out…! I hope it didn’t give too many drivers too much of a close shave…

  33. David Lomax says:

    Further to the reference to Incredible Edible above, people may be interested in an event about the Future of Food which Incredible Edible are running in Phillips Park this Sunday (27th May) from noon until 4 p.m. Further info. is available on their website There will be people there interested in alternative energy projects so I’ll see if there is any interest in what I mentioned above…

  34. HHart says:

    This is a very interesting find for me as I grew up in Springwater Park, well Springwater Bungalow, which over looks the park – the entrance is accessible from Lilly Hill street and is further down from the large blue and white ‘Spring Bank House’ via a very long dirt driveway (very scary in the dark!) The bungalow is still there today.
    Springwater Bungalow was in our family from 1945-2006. My grandpa was something to do with the dye works (I must ask what!) and he moved here with my gran, mum, aunties and uncles.
    We have loads of photos, videos and info on the dye works and park that span 60 years. It’s funny as most of the locals still have no idea that the bungalow exists!!
    I shall show this blog to my mum and dad and I’m sure that they’ll have loads of historical info to add. You are more than welcome to contact me via email –
    Jane Heywood – I am sure your family must have known mine!! Very interesting!!!

    • Parklover says:

      Thanks for your comments! I’m sure some of the readers who often comment on here about Springwater Park, and particularly its history, might be interested in contacting you.

    • M45 says:

      Hi, thanks for the info, as per my comment made on 6 th Feb this year, I noticed “Springwater Bungalow” on google maps and as it’s looks hidden away in the woods, I wondered whether the long driveway just off the springwater lane park entrance did lead to it… Must have been a great place to live/grow up (if a little scary at night!). Great that this blog piece has provided so much local insight.

    • Phil Cookson says:

      I wondered if anyone ever got hold of Helena for some photographs as her email has bounced back as undeliverable??

  35. Andrew says:

    Weird reading all this about a place I was fascinated by as a child.
    In the 70s the whole of Sailor Brow was just waste land. The old mill lodges close to the foundations of what must have been Springwater House still looked fairly industrial. It was great fun beating your way through the undergrowth to what was Springwater Cottage. The cobbled way you are all refering to was used regularly but fell into disuse when the whole place was cleared to create Springwater Park. The whole area around the mill lodges was scattered with rusting barrels of chemicals. It was an absolute adventure playground dream for youngs lads like me. As kids, the point from the Radcliffe end up to where the old factory was known as “Sailor Brow”. Us kids knew the demolished factory as Theodore St. Just. The rest, all the way to Blackford Bridge, was difficult terrain and was partially landscaped to create Springwater Park. I clearly remember the ruins of Springwater Cottage.
    I live abroad now but am delighted that you all gain so much pleasure from my old haunt.

    • Jane Heywood says:

      Hi Andrew,
      How do you think I feel? I played at the cottage in c1958 and it has all gone other than the old stone tank which was by our gate in. Where are you abroad? I can send you some old pics of the viz and a bit of history of the big house/family if you email me: direct. I shall be leaving the island next year too!

  36. robfcum says:

    Fantastic place. Just visited here today from the highfield lane entrance (behind the blue bell pub) just off bury new rd. Oh no..what a shock! The residents had put a lot of effort into the walk inside,sadly now overgrown and the pathway has now nearly disappeared thanks to himalayan balsom thats nearly took over this once pleasant walk. Such a shame. Its going to get worse sadly.

  37. chrisy says:

    Hi guys as a child in the 70s and 80s i lived on lillyhill street.I used to spend hours in and around the flooded ruins of the old spring water dye works looking for newts and frogs with my brother and friend. One day an elderly gentleman came up to us and said he used to work there when he was younger.My freind asked why they pulled the place down he said there was no work and another company bought it and decided to knock the place down.At the time the place wasnt so overgrown all you can realy see now are the bottom of the walls and a few piles of bricks.When i was a kid there was still a few bits of machinery about and loads of rusty old barrels.I dread to think what was in them.I have always had an interest in the place and still visit it with my kids.I have spent a lot of time trying to find out more about the place and find an old photo but i cant find anything.

  38. Paula Halliday says:

    Does anyone know who owns Sailor’s Brow and whether there’s a right of way along the top of it?

  39. Rick Holt says:

    Hi,here’s a photo of the works ,if you look in the bush at the gate to the park,the sign is still there
    Berk Spencer Acids,Theodore ST Just Division,This photo is from Britain From Above,there are
    thousands of photos to view.Sign in and you can use the zoom facility to get a close look.
    You can also tag the photos with landmarks etc to help others search around.
    cheers Rick

  40. Diddy Dave aldred says:

    I think my first time down st just was when I was 6 In 1974 then used to go down a lot in 79/80/and 81 fishing for newts it was great it was like a secret garden which only a few people really knew about,I went a walk down there in 2007 it was really over grown but it brought back some amazing memories for me,great place must visit again soon might take oscar my boxer dog πŸ™‚

  41. john fitzgerald says:

    I grew up on Radcliffe New Road in the eighties and the path was more accessible back then. It was originally the road down to a small industrial works that stood at the end of the path on the left. All that remained when we were children were the old
    lodges. It was,and probably still is from what you’ve seen,a popular place for us teenagers to hang out when we had nowhere else to go.

  42. paul mann says:

    i worked in whitefield at a chemical factory called theodore st just from 1958/1963 does anyone remember that factory,or worked there then. please reply to

  43. Joanna Daffern says:

    So glad I found your blog and its still occasionally updated!
    I first went in Springwater Park from the main Lily Hill Street entrance 18 years ago and the path was still cobbles. Hadn’t been back til this year and was disappointed to find the cobbles tarmacked and a mess and the whole park overgrown. Those blumin tall weedy things everywhere!!
    I love exploring in the woods though. I enter usually down the little path off Middleton Rd. I’ve tried to venture in a general direction of the old road but not made it through to Blackford Bridge yet. Has anyone ever started at the old Rumney Mill gates at Blackford Bridge and managed to do the full stretch to Radcliffe New Rd? Is there much left of the Rumney Bleachworks??
    I find the density of the trees bizarre, and the fact they seem to have been plonked to hide the view of dereliction from the new housing developments. Infact a lot of the landscape of the woods seems to consist of bulldozed mills, with soil tipped on top with trees planted that are now all falling over as the soil washes away! I was excited to find a brick made at a long since gone brickworks in Bolton (Briarfields?) and there’s something that is enamelled emerging from the ground on one of the pathways….
    See I’m a geek too! 😊

  44. Joanna says:

    Evening all!
    This thread has been going a long time, I hope someone is still reading it and can hopefully answer a question – does anyone know anything about a big (ish) house called The Throstle that was on the right hand side as you go in the park via Highfield Lane? There’s still a bit of wall there and other remains, but as with the rest of the park, badly planted trees and overgrowth that hides everything.
    Also, anyone entered via the Blackford Bridge entrance lately?? There’s loads to see of the old mill that was there ‘Rumneys Bleach and Calico Printing Works’, be careful though, it’s dangerous and the deer hide down there.
    PS be interesting to go on a history walk from one end of the park to the other!

  45. Andrew says:

    Hi All,

    For some strange but delightful reason all the back emails and comments just landed suddenly in my inbox??

    Last time I posted here it led, as things do, to a significant connection and several coincidences in my family history.
    Three large houses are described by an ancestor of mine who lived in Bolton but visited the families around what is now Springwater Park; from being a child until around the beginning of the first world war. She stayed with friends in The Clough. This was a substantial house, the access drive to which was the blocked pathway that sparked off this blog. The house was on lower ground to the allotments that have been spoken of and had a very beautiful garden. I remember the driveway as a kid and a large low-walled space where this house once stood.
    Spring water House was quite something it seems. From the description, probably similar in style and size to Stand Lodge on Stand Lane, Radcliffe (still standing) and impressive to my ancestor.
    The Throstle (I could only decipher the hand writing after seeing the name on a map) was described by my edwardian teenage great great aunt, as being a short carriage ride away from The Clough. If you walked by going down by Spring Water House it was an exhausting journey. She mentions a steep hill leading to another two “handsome” houses and walking beyond to The Throstle. If you look on maps of the time, these two houses must be Spring Bank and Greystoke. She disliked The Throstle, it lacked the older charm of The Clough and she wasn’t fond of the people living there, who were constantly round at The Clough. She adored staying at The Clough because of it’s old charm.

    Spring Water House and The Clough were the homes of wealthy factory owners who almost lived above shop. The Bealey family across the river lived next to their factory in what is now Close Park.
    She describes The Clough as having old world charm. I’m not sure but maybe The Clough and Springwater House were late 18th or early 19th C buildings, examples of which are to be found all over north and south Manchester. I suspect The Throstle was similar to Spring Bank, maybe middle to late 19th C. I have been unable to find any pictures of any of these properties. If any of you do…do contact me.

    I have never ventured to the Highfield Lane end of the park. I’m over at the weekend so I will!!



    • Joanna says:

      How fascinating!!
      You would enjoy exploring the old mill at Blackford Bridge too I think!
      Yes the walk up to The Throstle from what is now the field is steep, but Highfield Lane leads straight to it. I wonder when it was demolished?? I went for an explore yesterday and it seems that all the rain of late is washing away all the hastily dumped 1960s soil and there are some treasures to be found! I’ve found little storage jars dating back to the 1920s! So much history in that park! Bury MBC could be making such a feature of it!
      Thank-you for replying 😊

    • Jane Heywood says:

      Hi Andrew, I may have communicated with you in the past on this site and on my email. My gran lived at Springwater Cottage which was I have found out since the house for the caretaker of the bleach/dye works behind Springwater House on the river Irwell. I found out that my great grandfather was retired off by Lord Derby in c1907 and went to live there with his family, he worked at the Dye works as a caretaker/watchman type position, it’s on the census for that era. The family were called Rusden and their daughter used to visit with my gran, we are talking a long time ago about 1908. All that is gone now

      • Andrew Barlow says:

        Hiya Jane,

        Yeah we did have some contact a few years back.
        Some of the stuff you referred to set off a great chain
        of discoveries. I am going home tomorrow armed with my camera.
        I’ll post pics.
        Can you remember anything about a house further
        behind Springwater House called The Clough?
        Or in deed The Throstle?

        Have a great weekend


      • Jane Heywood says:

        No, mostly because I only knew about the big house Springwater House and Grans’ cottage but vaguely remember the house at the top of that lane. You may find reference on Oldmaps site as that is good but they have restricted real access/zooming in because they want to sell the maps and before one could copy them to look at in detail. Google the names, might be a minefield but maybe not. Have you got my old email? It starts perron*********** let me know if you can’t find it.

  46. Joanna says:

    Parklover am I right in thinking you have a Facebook page? Could we take this to your FB page?? Might be easier for sharing photos etc 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s