It has been recently reported that over the last decade in the UK, Manchester has been the city attracting the largest amounts of commercial property investment, outside London. Manchester has already seen a massive £8.2 billion from this source, according to CBRE, the global property advisors. And having been close to city for more than ten years, the changing landscape of the place is clear to see. Corrugated iron and cutting-edge structures, walkways replaced with tram-tracks, cranes and drains. More people move in, old aspects move out. Some people cry the loss of the past; others seem only to think of the future. But what keeps going most profoundly throughout - is not the traffic, not even the changes themselves – but the course of the river. The Irwell, and its presence in the city, still holds a captivating power. The recent statistics made me think that although the city diversifies and develops, the river moves on with even greater force.
The river speaks as a reminder of our natural power.
The clay at its base is the first material which tells us of our ability to shape, to structure, to make things malleable.
The rest is history.
We were attempting to assemble nature
In the raised roofs, the cut-glass pillars
Which made from individual specks of sand
Were sent to stand
Like stunted rivers.
A pantomime of water, winched
To towers of ice reciprocating
Numbers, times – our faces find
In each high-rise and city building.
They talked of Manchester torn and scratched
When in this act, to keep sky-scraping
Leaves clays of night upon our hands
The potential, black – the light, reshaping.
For we may float, but not forgetting
The path from which we did not stray
Shaping the city as the Irwell’s emblem
From the beginning, fingers, in the clay.