Situated within Higher Broughton, Salford, Kersal Moor offers beautiful views across the city.
As the name suggests, this eight hectare site is moor land with a few scattered trees and bordered down the north side by Singleton Brook. Here you can see an array of mosses, heather, grasses and ferns. You would never guess that the small piece of moor land could have such a rich and exciting history. In it's times it has witnessed executions, 200 years of great horse racing and the biggest Chartist rallies of the 19th century.
Kersal Moor, originally called Karsey or Carsall Moor is now a wildlife heaven. The site originally covered a much larger area. The map of 1848 shows the original Moor extended down to Vine Street and enclosed, what are now, Nevile Road, Vine Street and the Salford City Football ground.
From 1142 the moor became the home of a brotherhood of Benedictine Monks. They stayed for nearly 300 years until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and executed nine monks. It was during this period that the Kersal Cell was built and it's Tudor replacement is still to be seen on White Water Drive close to the river. From that period the Hamlet of Kersal, which included the moss, passed between different wealthy, aristocratic families, notably being the Chetham, Byrom and Clowes families.
From 1687, Kersal Moor became the Manchester racecourse, one of the finest circular horse courses in Great Britain. People came from far and wide, especially on Whitsun when there was was a real festival atmosphere. The last furlong of the course was along what is now Nevile Road, the finishing post being at the current Salford City Football ground gate. The racecourse operated and was nationally known for over 150 years before it was transferred to Castle Irwell.
In 1787, John McNamara was executed on the moor for theft of £8.00, three waistcoats and two silk handkerchiefs. This was witnessed by thousands, although it didn't seem to deter pickpockets who continued to work the crowds on the day!
The moor was also an important parade ground for military displays and inspections and the practice site for the Broughton, Cheetham and Prestwich Archers, who had a national reputation.
On the 24 September 1838, Salford's biggest ever demonstration took place on Kersal Moor, when thousands of people marched from all over the North West to demand the vote. Organised by the Chartists, the rally at the old racecourse on the moor was a launch pad in Lancashire of the fight for democracy in England - which soon spread throughout the world. A commemorative plaque was installed in 2010 to mark the sites historical significance.
Today the moor has more peaceful uses as a recreation area and a Local Nature Reserve, recognised as a Site of Biological Important (SBI) in 1993. The site is regularly used by local dog walkers and has a permanent orienteering course which can be used by visitors, schools and groups.
It is work knowing that it once had another life; one full of excitement, noise and crowds of people who wanted to change the social life of the nation.
Wildlife at Kersal Moor
The moor has a wide variety of flowering plants and shrubs, including heather, broom and gorse and rosebay willow herb. Look more closely and spot the beautiful but less frequent species of crowberry, tormentil, common bistort, orange hawkweed, early purple orchid and biting stonecrop.
The plants and insects also provide food for birds and animals. Magpies, jays, jackdaws and kestrels are regular visitors. Mice, rabbits, hedgehogs, foxes, bats and even deer have been spotted. In the darker damper recesses, mosses and ferns verdantly thrive giving protection to frogs and toads.
The Friends of Kersal Moor are a voluntary organisation who assist the Salford Ranger Team in managing the site, keeping it safe and tidy, promoting the site's nature and history, and providing a recreation facility for the benefit of the local community and beyond.