Bury Wildlife

Elton Area ( Elton Reservoir, Withins Reservoir, Bury Bolton Canal, Swan Lodge, Spen Moor, Lower Hinds, Hinds and Daisy Field.)



The reservoir covers 226,000 sq m (56 acres) and contains some 1 million cubic metres (220 million imperial gallons. The reservoir was constructed and opened in 1842 as a feeder for the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal as water was lost at the bottom end of the canal. Water is still taken from the Irwell at Burrs Country Park and which in turn feeds the remains of the canal.


The canal was opened in 1796 from Bolton and Bury to Salford and extended to the River Irwell in 1808. Coal carrying was one of the main reasons for building the canal. A lot of the mines were situated very close to the waterway so that loading was direct from pit head to boat. Lime, limestone, manure, stone, sand and slate were also carried on the canal.


In 1846 the Company was taken over by the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company, later  the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. In 1936 there was a serious breach of the canal bank and the Bury arm was isolated.  Navigation was restricted to a 4½ mile stretch from the Bury terminus to Ladyshore.  Navigation ceased in 1962.


In this former heavily industrialised site mines existed on Spenmoor, south of the canal  and Hinds pit at the rear of the the Alpha Hospital. Other significant  industrial sites include Lower Hinds an alkaline waste dump from sulphuric acid production process and mill site at Hinds at the end of the canal.


In the west of the site lies Withins Reservoir and culvert which supplied water to factories in Radcliffe coupled to further water extraction and goits at Warth fold that feed into Swan Lodge.


Agriculture has always played a significant part in this area with the Crow Tree Farm, Old Hall Farm, Coney Green farm and Woos Nab, still standing. Old Hall farm was rebuilt in the nineteenth century after a fire and Crow Tree farm has large Victorian barns.


Other farms have gone into decline and have been abandoned. The Farmers Arms, or Bennies was a pub that served canal traffic but is now a ruin. Buckley’s Fold and Royal Oak were located north of the reservoir. Hams farm was located between Crow Tree farm and Woos Nab.


Little remains of these but most have records from the eighteenth century and Hams is recorded in the Radcliffe Parish registers from the seventeenth century. Old Hall farm is reputed to be even older before being rebuilt.


Besides the farms further evidence of historical activity can be seen in this area with ridge and furrow field marks, a roman road dissecting the site norh south and a scheduled ancient monument  south of Withins reservoir.


North of the reservoir is the old railway of the Bury Bolton Line and Spenmoor an area enclosed in the nineteenth century. The modern day Alpha hospital located east of the reservoir was originally built in the nineteenth century as a isolation hospital.




The area is rich in wildlife. In particular the area is county important for birds. On the reservoir a variety of wader, ducks wader, and raptors are regularly reported on Manchester Birding Sight. Rarities extend to the canal with warblers and water rail. The woodland around the alpha hospital also has greater spotted woodpecker, bullfinch and tree creepers.


The sites also has important areas for plants. Lower hinds is a one of only two such alkaline sites in the county the result of industrial waste. Plant species recorded here include marsh helebrorine, blue eyed grass, southern marsh orchid, and small scabious.


Another important area is the old railway line in the north of the site with small scabious, salad burnet, ox eye daisy, and broatd leaved heleborine growing.  Other significant finds water soldier and frogbit in the canal, and the southern marsh and spotted orchids below Withins dam.  


The area also has significant standing and running water bodies. Three large reservoirs exist with the large Elton Reservoir, smaller Within’s Reservoir and Swan Lodge. There are also significant ponds and marsh areas spead across the area.. The river Irwell runs through the site along with many culverts and streams. Lastly the canal is still in water fed by the reservoir down to Radcliffe. Finds in these include fresh water limpet in Withins Reservoir, Water Spider in the canal, and mink.


Insects and other bugs abound across the area with twelve species of dragon and damsel flies, thirty seven species of hoverfly, over eighty species of beetle, over thirty species of hemiptera bug, over fifty species of spider and seventeen species of butterfly including wall brown.  .  


Historical Census


Lower SpenMoor Farm

Thomas Davenport bn 1793 farmer 16 acres bn Radcliff

Doffer Fold Farm

James Taylor Bn 1806 Farmer 12 Acres bn bury

Buckley Fold Farm

John Buckley bn 1774 farmer 5 1/2 acres bn Radcliffe

Nabs House Farm

Kay Hoyle  bn 1810 Warper bn Bury

Nabs House Farm

Wm Mills bn 1827 Coal Miner bn Radliffe

Bank Top (Farmers Arms)

Nathan Wallwork Farmer 3 acres bn 1775 bn Radcliffe

Radcliffe Hall Farm

Abraham Kay  farmer 45 acres 5 labourers bn 1787 Radcliffe

Hams Farm

Richard Rotherwell bn 1791 farmer 14 acres 1 labourer bn Elton

Crow Trees Farm

Robert Hampson bn 1791 farmer 36 acres 6 labourers  bn Radcliffe

Round Oak Farm

Joshua Hindle bn 1785 bn Calico Pinter Rushton Lancs

Benjain Hindle nm 1806 Calico Printer Walton Lancs

Joseph Lomax bn 1804 Coal Miner

John Yates bn 1828 Coal miner Elton

Coal pit house Farm

Robert Lowe Coal Miner bn 1828 Elton



Lower Spen Fold Farm

William Bride Head Salesman Bury Bn 1830

William Bridge Farm Manager 25 Acres bn 1830mbn Cambridgeshire

Doffer Fold Farm

John Milltt bn 1848 Farmer 14 Acs 1 Lab bn bury

Buckley Fold Farm

John Buckley bn 1807 labourer bn Elton

William Bennett bn 1848 Painter Bury

Robert Lee bn 1847 Coal Miner Rochdale

James Taylor bn 1855 Farm Lab beds

Ouse Nabs  Farm

Job Barlow bn 1819 Lab Radcliffe

Ouse Nabs Farm Farm

Jams Hardman bn 1819 Farmer 71/2 acres Radcliff

Bank Top beerhouse(Farmers Arms)

Benj Stott farmer  bn 1819 beer seller rochdale

Radcliffe Hall Farm

John Taylor Bn 1830 farmer 60 acres emp 1 lab bn flixton

Hams Cott Farm

Seth Holt bn 1856 Coal pit Enhgineer bn Radcliffe

Hams Farm

Joh Rider bn 1836 Farmer Butcher 24 Acres  Radclife

Crow Trees farm

Ellis Boardman bn 1846 Farmer 97 Acres employing 5 labs bn Elton

Round Oak

David Drinkwater bn 1853 Plate Layer Railway Heap

Ester Ashton bn 1813 widower unsworth

James Haworth bn 1836 Farmer 8 acres unsworth

Coal pit cottage

Blucher Ingham bn 1818 lab Cheshire

WilliamLaw 1857 Case Maker Bury