Finding ‘the Blue Pots wayther too sthrong’ #RochdaleStoryTrail

Oh the water – or the way-ter – and the warther.  In ‘James Leach’, a dialect sketch by John Trafford Clegg set in Wardle, Robin, a ‘gawmless-lookin young chap’, accidentally pours a bucket of dirty water over himself.  One woman worries that he’ll be ‘kilt’, but someone else jokes that Robin has ‘fund t’Blue Pots wayther too sthrong for him’ (Clegg, 1895: 276).

As Clegg puts it ‘Eautside th’ little ring o’ Wardle life th’ greight world had kept whuzzin’ away at th’ owd bat.’ (1895: 287). And this blog is whuzzin’ because, this Thursday Thoughts Day, is brief because deadlines loom (zoom by), and is coloured blue, drenched by water and the rain. The incessant rain, the last couple of weekends have found a reservoir of water pouring from the sky.  I found it difficult to hide the last zine in Middleton as I didn’t want the package to get too wet.  But along with the rain there’s time, and time has felt like water running by as I’m rewriting the thesis over the next two months. (On a separate note, I have had some of the most fun I’ve ever had with writing during remodelling the most recent chapter! I recommend finding local literary texts, reading them, and writing about them. I reckon that you’ll find some gems!)

Anyway, the next place I hide a zine is somewhere I haven’t been, and it always feels strange to write about a place I haven’t yet visited. Well, I say I haven’t visited, I have done in books and on maps. The name ‘Blue Pots’ initially makes me think of ceramics*, of delftware in the tone of Denby Imperial.

I’m still looking for the history of this name, whether it was a spring (as Clegg describes it) or bit of the landscape, as it’s tied in with the construction of Watergrove reservoir which opened in 1938.  There were three ‘catchwater’ drains: Stid, Blue Pot, and Trough Edge (Kershaw, 1938: 12).  And, spoiler alert for the next location, the Blue Pot tunnel was the first to be bored through. There is a similar tunnel through the wonderfully named Hades Hill .

I’ve found some model plane footage from around Wardle, but I’d like to know have you visited Blue Pot tunnel? I’d love to learn more about it before I hide the next zine over the weekend!  And with that, it’s back to the hills to finish off some (moor) words on Blue Pots, Knowle, Rooley Moor, Blackstone Edge. . .


* In 1999 I had a summer day job in a luxury kitchenware department, so have retained a slightly useless knowledge of ceramics and cooking equipment! (During the same summer, in the evening, I worked in the scuzziest pub in the Trafford borough…)


John Trafford Clegg (1895) The Works of John Trafford Clegg [Th’ Owd Weighver”] Stories, Sketches, and Rhymes in the Rochdale Dialect. Rochdale: James Clegg, The Aldine Press.

T. Elvyn Kershaw (1938) The Opening of Water Grove Reservoir. Rochdale: Rochdale Corporation Waterworks.


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