|Whilst looking over old Ordinance Survey maps, I have found what I believe to be a forgotten Holy Well.
When I was a kid, we used to call it the 'Wishing Well'. On the hillside of Crosland Moor above Manchester Road is a small spring that we used to take our water from during the drought in 1976. It doesn't look like a significant site now but from the evidence that I can find, it may once have been quite a special place.
It is reached either by leaving the path leading to the old quarries from the top junction of Ivy Street and William Street, and taking the steep path down to the steps that lead to the well. Or by taking the path opposite the graveyard entrance on Deep Lane and walking up the hill behind the Warren House and on to the well.
Water emerges from the hillside via a crudely cemented pipe into a small pool. It is then directed out by an open stone gutter, across the path and into a trough constructed from sandstone slabs. Out of the trough, it tumbles down the hill side, past a small rock outcrop to be collected in a tank behind houses on Manchester Road. Next to the trough is a curious stone box, open only on the side overlooking the valley in which Milnsbridge sits and looking over to Paddock and Golcar.
As the hillside around this area has been worked as quarries in the past (Crosland Moor sandstone is of noted quality and was used in a number of local buildings), it is possible that the steps and trough may be associated with the quarry works, or possibly a trough for local people to draw water from before the laying of water pipes. Troughs also still exist at the bottom of the Pinfold Lane/Manchester Road junction and on Deep Lane.
As a child I often used used to pay around the 'Wishing Well'. We'd drink from it after playing football on Ivy Street Rec, or dam up the trough until it was full, release the water and watch it gush down the hillside.
I thought little of the well in the years during which I grew up and moved away from the area, apart from the occasional visit whilst out walking on visits to see my parents. However, I was recently looking over an 1843 Ordinance Survey map of the area when I noticed that the hillside was known as Holy Well Woods at the time. This fired my curiosity and examination of a more detailed map from 1854 shows that the Holy Well in question, is the stream that we used to call the 'Wishing Well'.
Is it possible that the name 'Holy Well' is a christianisation of a much earlier name? Is it possible that it may have been a significant site during the iron age practise of water worship? The site itself doesn't offer many visible clues and I don't remember hearing any folktales attached to the well.
Posted by Kozmik_Ken
18th February 2004ce