Once described in Parliament as Britains dirtiest river “that melancholy stream” the Irwell has been in a state of recovery since the late 1970s mirroring the decline in the areas traditional bleach, dyeing and paper making industries.
The river had been discounted by most local people as somewhere to spend their leisure time, our local councils wish it wasn’t there, and the UKs third largest city has been built with its buildings facing away from it.
No one loved the Irwell and no one cared.
So a couple of years ago Salford Friendly Anglers Society decided to take a lead and form a group to stand up for the Irwell.
We decided that we would attempt to form a representative group of river users, to lobby our local councils, policitians, water companies and the Environment Agency to ensure that they continued to divert resources and continue in the great work already done to bring nature back to what was once the most polluted river valley in the world.
To do this we started to set up a lobby group called Action Irwell
At about the same time, the Angling Trust started a letter writing campaign called the “Our Rivers Campaign” – where fishermen were invited to write to ministers at DEFRA (dept environment, fisheries and rural affairs) telling them why their river was special, what it meant to them, and why more should be done to protect it.
This became Salford Friendlys first big campaign, the emails and letters flooded out of the dirty old town, with the dirty old river to our “elected leaders” in London.
We know that at least 250 of our members took part in this direct contact campaign, and we’d like to think that our letters had some effect as the River Irwell was soon named as a “pilot project” in the UK governments implementation of the European Water Framework Directive.
This led to the Environment Agency hastily convening a meeting in November 2011 to begin to co-ordinate the mammoth task of transforming the River Irwell from a river that most people still considered to be a polluted mess, into a river catchment that would enhance the life of everyone in the region. Big stuff, bigger than we had envisaged with “Action Irwell” and suddenly all the groups, councils, etc. As a band of cranks these were people we would have struggled to get around a table. The DEFRA project was like our dreams come true.
Members of Salford Friendly have sat on the steering committee of this group, and on some of the sub-task groups, since the projects inception. This “Irwell pilot project” has since been re-named “The Rivers Return” – and you can read their first major report into “the state of the Irwell” here . This document has led to a much larger detailed report which will soon be available to read on this site in a new tab entitled “Rivers Return” under the Campaigns tab.
As part of our Societies “standing up” for the Irwell our members sit on various committees and groups representing angling and the river.
The Broughton Trust
The Angling Trust North West
Friends Of Peel Park
Friends Of Princess Park
Friends Of Kersal Dale
Friends Of Prestwich Forest Park
The Greater Manchester County Angling Action Group
We are also keen supporters of the Wild Trout Trust (soon to be covered on a new page), who have been instrumental in helping Salford Friendly stand up for the Irwell.
If you love angling, love nature, love your river and want to make your voice heard – join us – get involved.