Today Worsley Green is a tranquil place, with a focal point of the Fountain Monument and bordered by Mock Tudor houses. Although it may have the look of a traditional village green, appearances can be deceptive. It was in fact once the hub of a host of industrial processes. These supported the Worsley mines and canals that opened in 1761, centred around Worsley Delph.
The area was known as Worsley Yard. It contained the workshops of masons, engineers, blacksmiths, boat builders, carpenters, sail makers, basket weavers and nail makers. The processes included the use of lime kilns, forges and coke ovens, all of which must have produced a substantial amount of smoke, blackening the surroundings. Goods were also stored here that would later be shipped out along the Bridgewater Canal.
A story is told that the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater came across some workers returning late from their lunch break. He asked them why this was the case, and they claimed that they had not heard the clock in the works yard strike one. The duke ordered that the clock be modified so that it would strike thirteen instead. This tradition continues, with the clock now being located in nearby St Mark’s Church, still striking thirteen.
The Green is Created
With the closure of Worsley Delph in 1888, the yard was dismantled. Captain Henry Hart Davies, the agent of the Earl of Ellesmere’s estate, was in charge of the process. Starting in 1904, the buildings were demolished and the industrial processes were relocated to nearby Walkden Yard. Hart Davis’ vision was to develop a pleasant village green on the site.
The base of a forge chimney was converted into the Fountain Monument to commemorate the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater and was completed in 1905. On the base of it is a lengthy inscription in Latin, which has been translated as follows:
A lofty column breathing smoke and fire,
Did I the Builder’s glory once aspire,
Whose founder was that Duke who far and wide
Bridged water through Bridgewater’s countryside.
Stranger! This spot, where once did never cease
Great Vulcan’s year, would sleep in silent peace,
But beneath my very stones does mount
That water’s source, his honour’s spring and fount.
Alas! That I who gazed o’er field and town,
Should to these proportions dwindle down.
But all’s not over, still enough remains
To testify past glories, duties, pain.
The Fountain Monument was restored in 2015 and the structure remains in excellent condition, but the days of water flowing from it are long gone.
Today many people will sit and picnic in this quiet spot, little knowing the massive transformation that has taken place to convert an industrial complex to an oasis of calm.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2021
Park at Worsley Court House Car Park (this is a public car park). There is a small parking charge. Cross over Barton Road (B5211) and turn right. Head down the road until you reach a footbridge over the canal. Walk over the bridge to see Worsley Green and Fountain Monument.
Nearby, just a few minutes walk away
Ivory towers and Dressed Stones: Exploring the Follies, Prospect Towers and Other Curiosities of Northern England. Volume 1 Lancashire, Jim Jarratt (1994) Cicerone Press. This excellent book is still available both new and second hand.
The Antiquarian Horology Society blog ‘A Clock Striking Thirteen’. See here: ahsoc.org/blog/a-clock-striking-thirteen/
Recclesia website. recclesia.com/our-work/worsley-green-monument-manchester
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