I have a fair bit to say about Pomona, well, probably not as much as I think, but I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it and only really touched on it in the last post about the space so I would like to go into a tiny bit more detail this time round.
It has been a place I have fortunately been living near for as long as I have been in Manchester so have seen it in Winter, seen it as a forest and after the forest was destroyed, what is amazing though is that the wildlife will always live there no matter the state of it. People will always use it as well for jogging, bird watching, pop up art exhibitions and just for a bit of a wander, or as myself and a mate are wont to do, just groove around exploring for inspiration and food for art.
There is no doubt that people feel passionately about this patch of land. People really do. We live in a city with almost no open green space within its bounds and, with this space on the very edges of both Salford and Manchester the developers seek to extend the city fringe and with it the loss of the only significant green space in this part of town. This would be a tragedy, I feel.
Yesterday ( April 25th) I went on a guided safari, led by the knowledgeable DR Luke Blazejewski who worked with George Haydock on a fabulous film about his work and interest in the site. Unfortunately I had to leave before the end but, already being familiar with the space I feel I got a lot of new information in the time I was there; I was able to identify some of the bird species that live there and we were taken to particular spots where many of them live. At this time of year there are many migratory birds that have recently flown in from Africa. We saw many cormorants, some lapwings, wheaters, swallows, a willow wharbler and a great deal of the usual residents, ducks, geese and swans on the water as well as other more commonly found birds. This is a really important place to exist as wild green space and rare in a city setting such as it is. The plans of the developers are to, of course build a series of flats, offices and shops on there and I feel this will have a lasting damaging effect on the migratory birds that have been coming here since the early 1980’s when the docks were decommissioned and the space was left to its own devices.
Importantly I will say that I saw about five bumblebees there yesterday and this is no small thing; as we know bees are crucial to the survival of all life, ourselves included, and seeing them there just strengthens the case for preservation of this habitat.
By way of a short digression I should mention that there is a wonderful book I have been reading, “Edgelands, a journey into England’s true wilderness” In this book the writers wander and explore places such as this in cities across the UK and indeed, this one specifically is touched on in one chapter, fortunately I was on the tram one day while I was reading the chapter about the very place I was moving through and I did enjoy seeing it from that other person’s point of view.
I was traveling past the scrap yards that for some reason I really love and they talked about these and the contrast to the wilderness as well as the big storage units on the other side of the site.
Also I thought it was quite a serendipitous thing that I should read that in that place.. but then I do get excited about things like this.
This wonderful place was named for Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruitful abundance.
There’s not a lot that I can add to the political and ecological debate here, the experts have weighed in soundly but I can at least add one more voice of support, another person who cares about the place and sees its value for the future. The thing is, this place is crucial to the well being of the people who live around here as much as it is for the birds who migrate here annually and live here year round. It was originally a garden and public site for people to enjoy and then became the Docks, it was known as Guinness Docks as this was where Guinness was imported to England, I would suppose once it came from Liverpool.
The day we were wandering as a group saw many rowing teams out on the water as, indeed can bee seen cutting through the water most days and as many people may not know there are a number of rowing Clubs in the area including the Agecroft Rowing Club, Salford University Boat Club, Trafford Rowing club, etc.
I quite often watch them from the other side of the river while I am cycling down the path and stop to check out the new artwork on the area known as Legends Wall.. one of the best spots around for graffiti artists to go.
Joggers, wanderers, artists and scientists, local kids on bikes, and many others are often to be found on this land and from where I live, it is a great way to get into to town by way of avoiding many busy roads and having some time and space to roam, one can ponder the past and future of the city here while seeing and hearing the construction of the new as well as the comings and goings of the trams, passenger and goods trains, birdsong and breeze in the trees.
There are remnants of buildings long demolished and often tile fragments and other relics can be found. I enjoy collecting these and have found some great little treasures here over time.
Fishermen line the river banks daily and are more than happy to sit and while away the hours in each others company. Sometimes it is people from this amazing fishing club, others it is individuals. I found out the other day that the presence of cormorants signifies water cleanliness as they will not eat polluted food, this is a good sign.
I also saw some what I assume are non edible mushrooms that I can not identify ( perhaps someone can enlighten me) growing near the river side . I have seen these before, in farms.–Someone did enlighten me, thanks Alecs! these plants are equisetum
These are just a few thoughts on the place by one person who happens to think it is important enough to preserve, nature has taken over and reclaimed what was once hers anyway and even if it does eventually get built on, this too shall not last and nature will take over again.
So I will continue to explore this place in all seasons and am glad of the fact that many people are active in trying to secure its future.
Thanks go to Luke Blazejewski for organizing the walk and James Walsh for his insightful words.