The Gorton Heritage Trail is a mapped trail situated largely in the Gore Brook Valley Conservation Area made up of roughly 20 points of interest, including 8 Grade Listed buildings and landmarks.
An action group was set up in 1997 by local residents in collaboration with Manchester City Council to protect and enhance the wildlife and historical influences of the area. The trail is approximately 2 miles long (3.22km), consisting largely of parklands and green spaces, acting as a rural corridor in a urban setting. There are country lanes, period properties, historic landmarks and natural beauty running throughout the trail.
The trail starts in Sunny Brow Park, which opened as a park in 1905 on land formerly belonging to Sunny Brow Farm, with Gore Brook (above image) running through its’ centre. Points of interest in the area include Saint Philip’s Church which opened in 1908 with Neo-Romanesque Architecture.
Following on from Sunny Brow Park is Maiden’s Bridge (above image), which was built ‘in 1737 to save local women having to raise their skirts as they crossed the brook on stepping stones‘.
Nearby is Gorton Hall Lodge (above image), the original entrance to Gorton Hall, which was built in the 17th century and was lived in until it’s demolition in 1906. Gorton Hall Lodge is a Grade Listed building and private residence. Ending at the side of Gorton Hall Lodge is Far Lane, another point of interest on the trail. Far Lane is one of the oldest roads in Gorton, and Manchester, and still retains it’s Country Lane aesthetic, with several 18th century cottages lining the road (below image).
Behind the cottages of Far Lane is Brookfield Lower Meadow (below image), and the continuation of Gore Brook, which babbles through the area in a winding pattern. The meadow is largely made up of wildlife and a path (‘Peacock’s Walk‘), which leads to the burial ground of Brookfield Church.
‘Peacock’s Walk‘ is the path that Richard Peacock and his family would take from Gorton Hall, where they lived, to the church which Peacock had commissioned. Brookfield Church (partly pictured below) dates from 1871, and was built upon the site of a former chapel. Brookfield Church is a grade listed building, and on the site are 3 further listed landmarks including a lodge and what was once Brookfield Sunday School.
A Grade Listed monument also stands next to the church. The Richard Peacock Mausoleum (below image) is the resting place of Richard Peacock, Gorton’s first MP, and his son Joseph. The tomb is in French Gothic style with bats, grotesques and ivy leafs carved into the white stone.
Moving out of the conservation area is the Butterfly Garden, a small road-side space packed with wild flowers attracting an abundance of butterflies (see below).
The exit of the Butterfly Garden leads to The Old Salt Road (above image), ‘Part of an ancient route going north from the salt mines of Northwich‘. Today it is a paved walkway which leads to The Vale Cottage, (below) a 17th century pub with original low beams.
Next on the trail is Tan Yard Brow, where a Tannery was situated on the banks of Gore Brook, up until it’s closure and demolition in 1959. Original workers cottages (Grade Listed) still exist on the country-style lane (image below) that leads from Hyde Road at the bottom, uphill to High Bank.
As well as the Grade Listed private cottages situated at High Bank (see above), another listed property and point of interest on the heritage trail is Springbank Farm, which stands today as a private residence. Following Gore Brook past Tan Yard Brow takes you into Debdale park, where you arrive at the next point of interest on the trail: Gorton Lower Reservoir (below).
Gorton Lower and Upper Reservoirs were built in the 1820s to supply fresh water to the rapidly growing town of Manchester, this was one of ‘the first municipal reservoirs to be built‘ in the United Kingdom. It is now situated within Debdale Park, which officially became a public park in 1929.
There are several points of interest within Debdale Park including Gorton House, ‘Built about 1790 by Robert Grimshaw, of a local wealthy textile manufacturing family, who introduced mechanised looms to Manchester‘ (see blow), though the house has been disused for decades Friends of Debdale Park hope to save the building and reopen the house to the public.
The trail ends with Gorton House Lodges, the former entrance lodges to the Gorton House estate. One of the lodges (see below) has been restored and now acts as a visitor’s centre.
The restoration and maintenance of the trail is in conjunction with the Friends of Debdale Park, with further plans and phases projected for the near future. To find out more, and to obtain a map of the trail, visit the Gorton Heritage Trail website by clicking here.
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