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Birchwood Index

Risley Moss
Risley ROF
Walled Garden
Business Parks
Warrington Rd
Autumn Images


All photographs on these pages are the property of the photographer Brian Tuohey unless otherwise indicated.

They may not be re-published in any form without written permission, but may be downloaded for personal use.

Requests for commercial or charitable use of these or any other photographs will be considered.

Please do not link directly to pictures, but links to the main gallery pages are welcome.

Risley Moss Local Nature Reserve
Photo Galleries and a Brief History

Galleries | History

Welcome to my Risley Moss micro-site, part of my series of galleries of Birchwood.  Risley Moss is such a rich and diverse area that I simply couldn't hope to cover the area with a single gallery page.

NEW GALLERY - March 2011 on the Mossland


2011 In March 2011 I was on an organised walk through the mossland.  In addition to seeing the mossland in early spring and some of the clearing and other management work, we saw two adders and a yellowhammer.  This was the first time I'd ever seen an adder and I manage to capture a couple of images of it.
Winter A gallery of 24 photos, all taken on a snowy day in February 2009.  You might also have seen these photos elsewhere on this website in the past.  There is also a link to other snow scenes of Risley Moss in 2010.
Spring A galley of 23 photos celebrating the return of green and warmer days, mainly taken in the woodland areas of Risley Moss.
Woodland Hide Photos of and taken from the Woodland Hide.  Currently a small gallery, this is a work in progress, with more photos to add.
Sculptures and Carvings One of the attractive features of walking around Risley Moss is abundance of sculptures and carvings, many of them in wood.  Again a small gallery, a work in progress, I intend to build up this gallery with more additions.
Dragonflies and Damselflies Currently in another area of my website, this is a gallery of dragonflies and damselflies from various locations, but most of the images were taken at Risley Moss from 2008 to 2011.
I also have another gallery on my other site at



Today, Risley Moss is designated both a Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but its history also characterises the history of Birchwood as a whole.  Originally, Risley Moss was one of the large series of mosses to the west of Manchester, the main moss in the area being Chat Moss.  Other adjacent mosses included Woolston and Rixton.

Peat Cutting
The exact date is uncertain, but at some point late in the 19th or early in the 20th centuries, a peat cutting industry began in the mossland, established by the British Moss Litter Company who took on the tenancy of Risley Moss for the purpose of extracting peat.  The Risley estate had been sold in 1872 to H & R Ainscough, who were noted breeders of horses, and the tenancy of the British Moss Litter Company began some years after this.  One of the main uses of the peat they extracted from Risley and elsewhere was in animal bedding and litter, particularly for horses.  There is no sign of the peat works on the Ordnance Survey map of 1893, but it is shown on the OS map of 1908.  Peat cutting on Risley Moss continued until about 1930.  After that, the company began cutting peat from other nearby mosses.  One source indicates Pestfurlong Moss, an area north of the M62, not the boggy area adjoining Pestfurlong Hill now given that name, but maps of the time show rails extending into Holcroft Moss.  Either way, they continued to bring the peat to their works and sidings at Risley Moss until the facility burned down about 1946.

Game Hunting
The woodland area was also used for game hunting.  There was a lodge, marked on maps as Risley Shooting Lodge or the Gamekeeper's Cottage that was at the end of the old lane that used to run from Warrington Road by Garret Farm (about where Chadwick House is today).  The hunting took place in the woodland close to the entrance to Risley Moss today.  The building was a well equipped facility built by Richard Watson Marshall Dewhurst (I wonder if this might be the origin of the name of Dewhurst Road?) who bought much of the Risley estate in 1853.  It included "kennels, pheasantries and all other requisites for breeding and preserving game". (Ref 1)

Royal Ordnance Factory
In wartime, part of Risley Moss was within the area that was compulsorily purchased for the Royal Ordnance Factory.  It wasn't built on, because of the soft ground, but there was a large area of railway sidings on the edge of the moss and it was also used for dumping and possibly some testing.  Afterwards it was left in a derelict and degraded state until the early 1970s.

Nature Reserve
By 1971, plans were in place to develop the former factory and surrounding area into the new town of Birchwood.  During 1971, several agencies and individuals began to work together on behalf of Warrington New Town Development Corporation to determine whether any areas of the new town (not just in Risley) might be suitable for conservation and possible nature reserves.  A detailed study of Risley Moss was conducted in 1972 by the newly created Warrington New Town Nature Conservation Group.  Risley Moss Nature Reserve was officially opened in September 1980 by David Bellamy.

More Recently
In 1989, there was a proposal by Cheshire County Council to close Risley Moss, but there was a public outcry and a meeting was held (which I attended) which was supported by David Bellamy.  The Moss was saved and RIMAG, the Risley Moss Action Group, was formed.  Since then, there have been efforts to restore the condition of the peat bog.  The water level is being managed, and further works are planned to enhance the water level.  The diversity of bog and marsh species has been increasing.  The woodland area has also been developed and there are attractive short walks making it an excellent place to visit at any time of year.  We are very fortunate to have such an important amenity within Birchwood.

Risley Moss is owned and managed by Warrington Borough Council Ranger Service in partnership with RIMAG, the Risley Moss Action Group.  It is also the home of the Mersey Forest and is both a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and Site of special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Ref 1:  "Risley Moss: a conservation study", Warrington New Town Conservation Group, December 1972, including an article "Risley - The Historical background" by H Henshaw.  Some, but not all, of the other historical notes on this page are also taken from this publication.


Updated 02/10/11