Bury Wildlife

Pioneer Bury Naturalists

Richard Buxton (botanist)

Richard Buxton was born on 15 January 1786 at Sedgley Hall Farm in the parish of Prestwich, near Manchester. At the age of 16, Buxton was illiterate, but he taught himself to read. In 1826 he on Kersal Moor he met John Horsefield, a handloom weaver from Whitefield, who was president of the Prestwich Botanical Society and he introduced him to other local botanists such as James Percival, Thomas Heywood and John Shaw. In 1833 he attended a botanical meeting in Prestwich and in 1839 he helped to compile the Flora Mancuniensis (1840) along with Leo Hartley Grindon,.


In 1849, aged 62, he published a book: A Botanical Guide to the Flowering Plants, Ferns, Mosses, and Algæ, Found Indigenous Within Sixteen Miles of Manchester about his finds in the Prestwich and nearby areas. Buxton died on 2 January 1865 at Limekiln Lane, Ardwick, aged 79 and was buried at St Mary's, Prestwich. His obituary in the Manchester Courier, described him as "probably one of the best British botanists, so far as flowering plants are concerned, that Lancashire has produced",


John Horsefield  (Botanist)

John Horsefield was an English handloom weaver and amateur botanist after whom the daffodil Narcissus 'Horsfieldii' is named. Horsefield had little formal schooling, and acquired most of his botanical knowledge through self-study and involvement in local botanical groups. He founded the Prestwich Botanical Society. Born on 18 July 1792, at probably Besses o' th' Barn in Whitefield. He made several botanical discoveries and was the first to find the Entosthodon templetoni moss in England. He lived most of his life near Whitefield in Lancashire, in dire poverty.


He pursued his interests by founding the Prestwich Botanical Society on 11 September 1820, presiding over meetings in a pub where plant specimens were brought together for identification. He was president of the society for 32 years, during which time at least 131 books were purchased by the society for communal use. Writing in December 1829, Horsefield explained that the Prestwich Society met on the second Monday of each month and usually had between 12 and 20 members, who were charged a monthly 6d. subscription. Buxton was of the opinion that Horsefield was "not a mere country herbalist, but an excellent scientific botanist". John Horsefield died on 6 March 1854, aged 62 and is buried on 10 March 1854 at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Prestwich.


Leopold Hartley Grindon

Leopold Hartley Grindon was born in Bristol on 28 March 1818 and educated at Bristol College. He moved to Manchester when aged 20 where he spent a year as an apprentice in a warehouse before becoming a cashier for John Whittaker & Company's cotton business where he stayed until 1864. Grindon, , developed an early interest in botany and was self-taught in other areas of science, such as astronomy and geology. At the age of 13, he started a collection of dried plants and by 18 he envisaged the creation of a herbarium of all the cultivated and wild plants found in Britain.  In 1860, Grindon and others, founded the Manchester Field-Naturalists' Society . He attended the Mechanics' Institute and was appointed a lecturer in botany at the Manchester Royal School of Medicine .When Grindon moved to Manchester,  where he lived for a 30 years. In 1883 he moved to Cecil Street in Greenheys where he died aged 87 in 1904. His seminal work was The Manhester Flora, was published in 1859. Not from Bury he built on the work of Buxton who he knew and visited many sites in Prestwich producing further later records.


He was also auther of Manchester Walks and Wild Flowers with a Chapter on Mere Clough

1882.. In this he reported 'Mere Clough too is not what it was.......the grove of trees that once filled he bottom has disappeared.  The best of the wild flowers has also disappeared or nearly so and the brook is less often limpid than impure.'


Cosmo Melvill wrote the 'Flora of Prestwich' in the 1916 'History and Traditions of Prestwich.' He was a aquaintence of Grindon and he charts the botanical decline of Prestwich with Urbanisation.  He frequently reports that species previously recorded as 'it is no longer here' or 'formerely common' or 'I have searched for it in vain.' Nonetheless he provides information on species present in Mere Clough from the early 20th centuary as listed below.


Listed Below are records taken from the above books and compared to today..

Mere Clough

Leopold Hartley Grindon Machester Flora 1859

Viola palustris marsh violet


Calluna vulgaris common ling

Rubus idaeus (raspberry,

Rubus sub erectus Red fruited bramble


Geum rivale, water avens

Chrysosplenium alternifolium  alternate-leaved


Myosotis secunda (Creeping Forget-Me-Not)

Scutellaria galericulata, "Common skullcap

veronica Montana "wood speedwell

Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)

Jasione Montana "Sheep's bit scabious

Campanula rapunculus, rampion bellflower

lysimachia nemorum (yellow pimpernel)

Allium ursinum –  ramsons Abundan

Crepis paludosa, the marsh hawks beard

Cirsium heterophyllum – Melancholy Thistle

Eupatorium cannabinum, Hemp-agrimony

Valeriana dioica Marsh Valerian bottom

Vaccinium myrtillus "bilberry

Neottia ovata (Common Twayblade)


Potamogeton crispus "Curly-leaf pondweed

Mere Clough

Richard Buxton Botanical Guide 1849

Viola palustris (marsh violet

Viola odorata  Sweet Violet




Ribes alpinum, or Alpine currant


Chrysosplenium alternifolium  alternate-leaved


Myosotis secunda Creeping Forget-me-not



Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)  


Campanula rapunculus, rampion bellflower ‘


Allium ursinum –ramsons


Cirsium heterophyllum, also known as Melancholy

Eupatorium cannabinum, Hemp-agrimony




Epipactis helleborine (Broad-leaved Helleborine)

Potamogeton crispus, the curly-leaf pondweed

Potamogeton rufescens/alpinus  Red Pondweed

Galium odoratum, sweet woodruff ‘

Anemone nemorosa Wood anemone

Melampyrum nemerosum - Yellow Cow-wheat

Saussurea alpina "Common Saw-wort

Callitriche hermaphroditica autumnalis "autumnal water starwort

Mere Clough 08.03.14

Opposite leaved saxifrage  

Nomada leucophthalma primrose poss planted in past

Prunus spinosa blackthorn

Ficaria verna lesser celandine


Mere Clough 28/03/14

Wood Anemone lower clough , Red Campion , Coltsfoot near the lodge, Field Speedwell ,Butterbur

Herb Robert all in flower.



Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, Nuthatches and treecreepers

Fringcups, Dogs Mercury Lodge. Cherry blossom was also out and more of the Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifrage.



Red Tailed Buble Bee, Peacock Buttefly, Orange Tipped Butterfly, Dogs Mercury, Wood Sorrel,. and Masrsh Marigold, Bluebell, Ramsons and Greater Bitter Cress are now coming into flower

Clifton Aqueduct Giant Hogweed, Himilayan Balsam, Pink Purslane Dogs Mercury, Wood Sorrel, and Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifrage as well as five Common Newts.


All in flower



Wood Forget Me Not, Wood Aven, Greater Bitter Cress, Garden Strawberry, Cuckoo Flower, Shepherds Purse. Meadow Buttercup,  and in the Old Garden a Gaint Rhubard all in flower

Mere Clough

Cosmo Melvill wrote the 'Flora of Prestwich' in the 1916 'History and Traditions of Prestwich.'


Lesser celandine Ranunculus ficaria,

marsh marigold, Caltha palustris

wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa

Barbarea intermedia Winter Cress or Yellow Rocket

Cuckoo Flower Cardamine pratensis

Lychnis flos-cuculi, Ragged Robin

Montia fontana, blinks or water-blinks

Rhamnus frangula, (Frangula alnus), the alder buckthorn

Prunus spinosa (blackthorn, bair or sloe)

Filipendula ulmaria, meadowsweet

Chrysosplenium alternifolium  alternate-leaved saxifrage

Ribes alpinum, or Alpine currant lower clough

Circaea lutetiana enchanter's nightshade

Hydrocotyle vulgaris, marsh pennywort,

Valeriana officinalis Valerian

Eupatorium cannabinum, Hemp-agrimony

Gnaphalium sylvaticum,  wood cudweed and heath cudweed

Campanula rapunculus, common name rampion bellflower meadow after lower clough in Buxtons Time 'I have searched for this in vain.'

Vinca minor  lesser periwinkle Clifton Aqueduct.

Myosotis secunda Creeping Forget-me-not

Allium ursinum – ramsons 'extremely plentiful'


Solanum dulcamara, bittersweet

Scrophularia nodosa  common figwort

Veronica montana wood speedwell

Mere Clough

Grindon Walks and Wild Flowers  with a Chapter on Mere Clough 1882.

Equisetum sylvaticum, Wood Horsetail, Sylvan Horsetail.

Chrysosplenium alternifolium  alternate-leaved


Ribus Alpinum mountain currant near reservoir

Wood Anemone

Anemone nemorosa Wood anemone lower clough

Caltha palustris (kingcup, marsh marigold nearreservoir

Oxalis acetosella wood sorrel

Marsh violet  viola palustris

Whortle Berry Vaccinium mrytillus (?)


Meadow beyond Clifton Aqueduct

Common bistort Persicaria bistorta

Meadow Cranesbill Geranium pratense



Bury Bolton Canal Nearby

Wood Stitchwort Stellaria nemorum

Yellow Deadnettle (Lamium galeobdolon, commonly known as yellow archangel)


Mere Clough Prestwich

Mere Clough is part of Phillips Park. ALL the above naturalists studied it and they all left records of their more prominant finds in their publications of this location. This alllows comparision with modern finds to these historical records and therefore to assess the impact of urbaisation or not. Mere clough was clearly ancient woodland but it has undergone change. It was used as a pheasant shoot  with cover via Rhodendrun being introduced in the Victorian period. At the same time walks were laid out for pleasure purposes. Industrialisation affected the Clough with a Printworks at the end of it and the huge mental hospital overlooking one side. In more modern times the local corporation planted trees and the M60 sliced a large portion off the top of the Clough. This all impacted with polution, introduced species and increased human pressure and usuage. 2014 will see repeated visits to assess this effect.