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Clayton Vale History

Clayton Vale The Nunnery

In the booklet "Manchester Walks and Wildflowers", which were extracts from the Manchester Weekly Times during 1st May 1859 to July 1859 Clayton Vale was described as " pleasant walks, especially near the borders of the Medlock, which winds among trees and green fields that are really picturesque."

There is a rich and varied history to the Vale with past industries such as a print and dye works and Bradford Colliery having a major impact with associated buildings, roads, railways and pollutions.   It had a number of farms, a hospital, a nunnery, a church and a row of cottages in the earlier years.

In approx 1907 Manchester Corporation began to purchase the buildings on this site for plans to use it as a tip for the ash cinders from Stuart Street Power Station and a Municipal Tip.

In 1982 Manchester City Council purchased the whole valley and began the reclamation of the site to turn it back into open space for the public.  The huge reclamation took several years to complete.  The aim was to provide a pleasant landscape setting to maintain and improve access for walkers and to create a wildlife haven.

Approximately 250,000 trees and bushes mostly native were planted over a period of 10-15 years in an area measuring 114 acres.  A network of paths was installed and two ponds were developed and improved.  The trees planted were of short- lived species such as fast growing like Willows & Poplars.   Other trees included White Popular, Aspen, Sessile Oak, Red Oak, Bird Cherry and Silver Birch and were planted to increase the wildlife habitat to include a wide range of woodland species which includes sparrow hawks and jays.

There are no remains of structures on the Vale as these were all demolished to make way for the site to become a landfill.  The only historical landmarks are the Brick Bridge within the Vale, the Bay Horse Pub and the bridge on Edge Lane which would have been a crossing for the river.

It has four ponds of which two have been identified as Sites of Biological Importance as they contain locally scarce plant species and habitats including common reed swamp.  These are the fishing pond and the pond at Culcheth Lane.   The other two ponds are the hidden pond between the Iron and Brick Bridge and the dipping pond that is situated near the visitors centre.

In July 2006 it became a local nature reserve, only 1 of 4 in the Manchester area at that time. Showing how important the site has become for nature as well as local people.

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