Stories of Chat Moss

Stories of Chat Moss project is capturing a community's memories.

The project, generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), started in spring 2011, and has sparked interest and enthusiasm in the Irlam and Cadishead area of Salford.

Chat Moss is an area of peat bog that makes up around 30% of the land area of the City of Salford, and has been Greater Manchester's primary source of vegetables and salad crops since the 1920s as a result of the fertilisation of the land by 'night soil'.

Its significance in the development of Irlam and Cadishead and of Salford as a major agricultural then industrial centre in the North West began in 1829 when George Stephenson constructed a railway through the Moss on a floating raft set upon a stone and wooden foundation. As an agricultural area, Chat Moss was an important source of employment and income for local people, but over time this land use has changed drastically.

Local communities who lived and worked on the Moss are rapidly dwindling in number. The project has captured people's experiences, memories, stories and perceptions of Chat Moss before they were lost. Previously, very little information about the communities who have lived and worked on Chat Moss have been available in Salford's museums collections, libraries and archives. Thanks to this funding, the stories and experiences of people who have farmed land on the Moss, or spent leisure time there, have been collected and stored for the future.

During spring 2011, the project team spoke to local people who have strong memories of Chat Moss, whether they lived there, worked there, played there as children or just walk the dog there! Working with a professional oral historian, Christine Gibbons, the project has recorded local people's memories so that information about how the Moss used to be lived on, especially as the land use is changing so much at the moment. We have now collected over 25 fascinating oral histories from people who have strong connections with Chat Moss.

Blundell harvesting lettuce, 1950sThese recordings and stories, as well as photographs, were used during the summer term of 2011 to work with children and young people in seven schools in Irlam and Cadishead. Textile artists, film makers, creative writers, visual artists and mosaic artists have inspired the children to do creative work, and help them learn about the social history of their community. Much of this work was showcased at a celebration event in October 2011 for people who have participated in the project, as well as through displays at libraries in the area.

A small creative writing project has also encouraged local people to use their imaginations and create written work inspired by the stories and themes of Chat Moss. These workshops have taken place in local libraries, and have been thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The legacies of this project are archive recordings of local people's memories, a school learning resource pack for teachers to continue to enthuse young people about the history of Chat Moss, and a small publication available in Irlam and Cadishead libraries, containing oral history extracts, photographs, creative writing and a selection of the creative work produced by the young people.

You can order your own copy of the Stories of Chat Moss celebration book. Please note that we are not responsible for any content or transactions on the Blurb website.