An Exhibition of Some of the Photographs

Taken on the Green Belt and Surrounding Area

Although I have been taking photographs for years I didn't always think of it as a record of events and for that reason some of them were not recorded at all. My first venture on what might be called the career of a vigilante was when a local yob exposed himself to my wife as she washed up at the kitchen window.

We were surprised to find that he was very well known, but not to us. When the authorities found that we were prepared to stand our ground and give evidence in court they rallied round and we attended several meetings about the lad. if we only call him Liam it's enough. At 14 he had a long string of offences so we were just a small piece of the jigsaw and none of it was recorded on camera.

Eventually, he became a guest of Her majesty and I believe that he is now gainfully employed and probably has a family of his own.

The pictures that I shall show are just a fraction of the ones that I have taken. Practically every home in Dalebrook Road has a portrait of their children taken on the green and I shall not show those, though occasionally someone might be caught in shot in the background.

It isn't always possible to eliminate bystanders from a photograph of an incident. It is not an offence to take pictures without bystanders permission. One would have some real difficulty if that became law. What would happen about the crowd at a fairground?

I have come across people a couple of times who think that they have a right to prevent photographs being taken simply because they might be included. If they are in a public open space they have no such right. As a matter of courtesy I usually ask them but I intend to carry on taking pictures on the green belt so long as it is lawful.

One of the things that creates confusion over the issue is that school authorities sometimes forbid photographs being taken on the premises. That is their right but idiots sometimes think that the ban applies to the whole country including football matches.

The following photographs have been examined prior to publication. There are more to come. It might take some time so I shall put them on display progressively as I reach them.

Please enjoy!

The brook used to be a favourite dumping ground for stolen cars. This one was dumped one August Sunday afternoon at 6pm. They took their time before putting it to the torch.


They leisurely climbed out of the car one by one. Between the first and last picture were seven clear minutes.

Waiting for their mates are two of the culprits. I didn't ask their permission to take these shots but it's not required. The court was happy to use them as evidence, and they gave me a magistrates' commendation to boot.

This is the oldest one. Maybe he was the leader. He had several breaches of probation and ASBO's, too. But then they all had long records.

At last the others are making their escape. These pictures gave easy identification.

Now there are four. They are like moths emerging from a crysilis. Having had their fun they will stroll away.

This was their last picture before their arrest. They were all arrested during the night and as justice took its time they too did time - 4 months each. One of their earlier escapades. It is good that we don't see this nowadays. It used to be a regular thing.

This was one of their earlier escapades. The burntout trademark says it all.

Yet another of their japes. They always chose nice little cars that were obviously someone's pride and joy.

We can't be sure that this was one of their victims because it was well on the other side of the brook among the Manchester residents. Mind you it had their burntout trademark.

Some years ago there was a spate of dog attacks on other dogs. This dog was an early victim. It was savaged by the other doog and so badly injured that the vet had to remove a kidney. It might have been the last victim if the owner had had the guts to make a case with the police. I tried but the feckless policewoman who visited me refused to lift a finger because the dog was not mine. The owner later claimed that the police had told him not to press charges.

In spite of his dog being severely mauled and having to pay a vet's bill of more than 600 the owner just kept his head down and allowed the next five dogs to suffer the same fate. How responsible was that?

The attacks continued and it was only through the publicity given to them in this website at the time that forced the hands of the authorities. Nonetheless there was little to be done until the attacking dog was traced.

In all six dogs were attacked before the culprit was traced and stopped. This picture was particularly gresome but the last dog to be attacked was a Yorkshire terrier and it was so badly mauled that it had to be put down. The gossipers said that it had to be put down which isn't quite the same.

Here is the culprit. It was a magnificent animal. It took ages to trace it and photograph it. No one knew anything about it and it was supposed to be kept in a garden shed but good information was hard to come by.

As far as I could see it was a lovely dog. I had no trouble with it and there is no record of it ever attacking a human. I heard that the dog might have been deliberately released by someone in the family with an ulterior motive.

I was saddened when I heard that thhe dog had been put down. The circumstances are unclear but one story that I heard was that neighbours paid a visit to the owner after the incident with the Yorkie and it was put down the following day.

Another mastiff bitch. For the most part a lovely dog and notably it is on a lead. The owner keeps it on a lead because it bites other dogs. While I have stood chatting with the owner it has attacked six other dogs on six other occasions and always on the lead. It must be obvious that the lead does not make a scrap of difference. The real protection for other dogs would be to put a muzzle on her. I am told that earlier this year she attacked another dog of about the same stature as Sam in number 12 and caused penetration wounds.

It is well known that I love dogs but there has to be a limit. How irresponsible is it to leave such a dog unmuzzled? In any open space the risk to the public must be increased, yet though others know about the dog they close ranks and keep it a dark secret. I would not want a dog attack on my conscience. I wonder where they draw the line? If it were a really serious offence such as being a terrorist or a pervert, how would they handle that? If they closed ranks and covered up for a bomb maker how would they justify the resulting deaths? Would you cover up for a pervert?

This is the football pitch on the Manchester side. The flytipper was a local builder who had used his tipper lorry to cause maximum damage to the green belt. One can plainly see how he had driven up and down and in and out to cause such damage.

With a little help from residents enough documentaation was collected and handed over to Manchester City Council to secure the tracing and prosecution of the culprit. He received the first ASBO in the UK for flytipping.

This close up of the debris shows how unpleasant and how dangerous it was on a football pitch. Broken tiles, including mirror tiles, could easily have cut open a leg.

This drake is in mourning for his dead mate. Her body may just be made out in the tangle of twigs that formed a blockage in the brook. The twiigs were entirely natural, being formed after a violent storm tore down 200 year old trees. The duck is lying alongside her drake's right week. He remained loyally at her side for many days and never left her side.

This is a close up of the duck and gives a much better idea of what it looked like. It was very well camouflaged and since it was dusk without flash she would have been invisible.

I've included this picture because I thought that it was important for the browser to see a slightly wider picture of the tangle of debris.

This last picture show what a tngle it really was. The pictures touched many hearts and I had emails from Salford about it. Twice I was approached by different agencies who had been sent to recover its corpse but it had disappeared by then. I heard that it had been buried but who can really know.

This picture postcard scene is available every winter just up the green belt. There are houses built now on these fields with just this one bit remaining.

The tussocks of frosted grass make a lovely but chilly scene on a bright January day. Oddly, a geyhound stumbled and it owner swore that it had slipped on the blades of frosted grass. Frosted grass isn't slippery - it's just cold. Mind you this was the same dog that ran into a tree and died.

Dear little Sally. Here she is at six months old and scarcely bigger than the tussocks themselves. And she is so slim.

This picture and the two that follow are off topic but they cry out for some sort of comment to the point that I just couldn't resist. The scene is taken from the TV and customs officers are tasked with arresting people selling cigarettes illegally. I spent some of my early life in HM Customs & Excise and I may presume a few things.

The female officer will have a bright intellect and be expensively educated by the state and will have received expensive on the job training. Here she is charged with the task of arresting a runaway suspect.

As someone who spent 12 years in the front row of the scrum I can tell browsers that this in no way to sop in his tracks a runaway suspect. A flailing arm is one of the easiest things to brush aside. What is really needed here is a big, stupid, cheap rugby player. Isn't this a display of incompetence both by the officer and her manager to use her for this purpose?

The suspect easily eludes her because she has no idea how to stop someone in flight.

Browsers should make a special note next time they watch a rugby match of anybody, absolutely anybody, who is performing like this on the pitch.

Having turned an honoured service into a laughing stock isn't it appropriate for the service to review the application of expensive resources? Isn't it political correctness gone mad to assume that gender does not count - that all officers are simply officers? There must be many tasks where her competence would really count but putting her in a position to stop a runaway suspect when exposed to public ridicule is a long way short of the mark.

I am reminded of how an armed court usher in America, overweight and under 5 foot, escorted a convicted murderer out of court. He overpowered her, stole her gun and keys, and killed her and a judge and several more people. Who was responsible for that tragedy?

This is a tale of two trees: the one in the foreground I shall call the"Swingtree" because generations of kids have dangled from the end of a rope tied to the bough overhanging the brook. Obscured behind it in the background is the other tree which I shall call the "Rottentree" for reasons that will become obvious.

I have no idea why I took this shot. Like many of them it was purely speculative, capturing the scene as an accurate historical record.

Probably because of its appearance, the Rottentree has inspired little interest and this picture is the only unobscured view of it. On the left, its bareness contrasts sharply with the Swingtree on the right which is in full leaf. It just shows that one never knows what the camera has captured.

This is how the rottentree landed on the Manchester side of the brook. Its the only picture I have of how it landed. I don't know about the dog but it was probably the original subject. Otherwise I'd have made sure that all the debris was in the frame.

It has all been rearranged now for kids to play on. We might have had the same on the Trafford side but, ever destructive, Trafford took it all away.

In its rearranged state the rottentree has become quite an exciting adventure event. I only became aware of how hollow it was when a young lad came over to me as I was lying on the grass with my dog. Full of woe he asked me to help find his expensive mobile phone that he had just dropped down one of the holes.

There was no prospect of a rescue. The holes were many and very deep and interconnecting.

Trafford Council has never been tree friendly. The way in which damaged trees are removed with alacrity has often had me wondering if there is some scam going on. Certainly, many trees have been removed and not replaced whereas on the Manchester side there seems to be some real though gone into its tree management.

The pictures upto and including number 39 are those of the various holes in the rottentree - no wonder it blew down!

Just another hole, hopefully it was once the desirable residence of some bird.

When we moved here in 1975 the brook was quite different. There were owls patrolling the banks at night and they would perch on the telephone poles. The holes in this tree were those that they sheltered in. There are lots of bats on the green belt but I won't reveal their roost because there are idiots at alarge.

Not another hole. This is the trunk at the point where it snapped revealing how hollow it was.

This is the rotten tree after the tidy up. It has become an adventure playground for kids. Heavy lifting gear must have been used to arrange the logs like this - draped over each other and propping each other up. Nicely trimmed, too!

There is potential risk but there always is in play. On balance, it might be the best use of resources. Certainly, Trafford didn't take the risk - instead its children play in Manchester and take the risks that it wouldn't.

This is how the debris from the swingtree landed on the Trafford side of the brook. Typically it was not used as a feature for pedestrians as it was on the Manchester side but soon taken away and destroyed.

The swingtree as it is now in full leaf but badly scarred. Future generations will never be able to enjoy the excitement of the past 200 years. Will anybody even notice?

One may see how the rottentree on the other bank looks very close. This is because the zoom lens foreshortens objects and their distance from one another.

In true Trafford style the largest tree on the green belt was carted away and never replaced. That was about 15 years ago. Its girth was at least 12 feet and the root ball left a pit like a bomb crater. The remains are still there now like some archeological dig. The bowl can be clearly seen here in this picture.

The tree seen here tells its own story. From its base and spreading upwards and arcing to the right there is a strong limb. Trees don't grow that way naturally. The reason is that it had to demonstrate the most supine subservency to the ascendency of the neighbouring massive tree.

While that tree stood all this tree could manage was a weak leaning towards the light. Once the massive tre was removed this tree came to life and produced all that growth burgeoning out from its original stem on the right.

Police bikers make an arrest.

There used to be gangs of bikers who became so confident that they would challenge ownership of the green belt. By the dozen they would turn up at the western end of the Manchester side (that's where the football pitcch is) and ride like maniacs. Some folk stopped using the green for walks because of it.

I visited every house on both sides of the brook with a petition to the Chief Constable. Two weeks later the police sprung a trap. There were lots of arrests. many of the bikes were stolen and hardly any of the riders were lawful in terms of insurance etc. About a dozen bikes were confiscated.

Now its difficult to find a biker on the green. This one was only using a little bike. Hardly more than a toy but it was the biggest fish the police could find. Not so the next story!

This story is quite a tale. To the uninitiated it just seemed like three bikers screaming down the green, only they usually turned around before they reached the flats. This time they kept going until the lead one hit the blue parked car and somersaulted 30feet onto the green.

I was watching and waiting and I knew that the one in the lead was actually being chased by two police bikers who were taking up the rear. It brought out lots of residents and one may see that the bike is still lying in the road.

Here the bike has been safely dragged off the road and onto the green. The bike was identified as having been stolen in a burglary some months earlier, I forget where from. The bike had been kept on the nearby council estate and used to scream up and down the green belt putting everyone at risk. We had to stop his gallop.

This is the damage done to a perfectly good car. Fun riding scramble bikes is not a victimless crime.

The rider flew from the bike and landed about 30 feet away. Amazingly, he was on his feet in a flash and made his escape through the door in the flats. he was never identified though I caught his mate on a push bike who was at the scene and speaking to him on his mobile.

The helmet came off when he landed and he didn't stop to retrieve it.

Neither did he stop to pick up his shoe. It must have been shock that allowed him to move at all. This sort of flight through thin air could easily have killed him.

One may see from this picture how far the culprit flew through through the air. The dark blue car, parked further down than the light blue one that was damaged, is to be seen in the frame just on the left. The helmet is even further down than that. The total distance is the two cars added together plus the gap between them plus about another car length.

In the background is his escape route.

Occasionally something really dramatic is found on the banks of the brook. I call this spectacular flower a lily but I don't really know what it is. I do know that wherever it comes from it must be upstream of here because the one last year was further down and it couldn't work its way upstream on its own.

On another occasion after a storm there were large goldfish in the brook. A little girl from Dalebrook retrieved a couple of them. I can't remember now which one it was.

My HTML programming used here does not allow for several photos with little in the way of captions. So the best compromise was to join some individual photoos together and have just one reasonable caption.

The four seen here are of the same flower from different angles. I have taken one with houses in the background so that we may check out the location next year.

Way back in 1993 I was the Secretary of the Manchester Italian Week. In conjunction with Mancat we ran an art competition for primary schools. It was in the Spring so all the schools were busy with exams and we had only a few entries so we approached some schools directly.

We had a good response from Brooklands County Primary in Woodbourne Road and also from a school in Macclesfield. All the others seemed to come from Gorton.

The competition was to be judged by visiting artists from Italy and the first prize was an all expenses paid holiday in Italy for two. Never let anybody think that giving away a holiday is easy!

The picture here is of the Headmaster, Mr Steve Cole,who was the incumbent when the interviews were done and the pictures taken in 2004. He has now moved on. I have notes somewhere of all the interviews but they are in some dark corner.

I will tell you about the prize later. This is the Deputy Headmaster, Mr Phil Cottis, who did an awful lot of the development following the winning of the competition. The winners and runners up both came from Brooklands and an undocumented feature of the competition was that the Italian State was prepared to run some lessons in Italian at its expense.

It provided a genuine Italian teacher and the thing became a great success story. Many awards were won by the school and computer links were setup with Italy and the experiment became a permanent feature. At the time that it started in 1993 David Higgins was the Headdmaster and I remember bringing in Gaetano Scappaticci to present the prize.

This is the Italian teacher who was just finishing her time at the school four years ago when I was supposed to publish the story for the benefit of the Italian community. She was ever so nice. She did a lot to keep up a strong link with Italy.

The holiday was never taken. One of the governors, still a close friend, undertook to arrange it with the winners. We all thought that it was just a case of handing it over. There was on difficulty after another. First they wanted a holiday for four. I belive a compromise was offered by which exta payment might be made. Then it was the wrong time. Eventually, the holiday expired and we all washed our hands of it but the school benefitted from it in the long run.

And well done Mrs Gaffney for arranging the chidren to do the paintings.

The following pictures are of displays that the school put up and allowed me to photograph for inclusion in the Italian Heritage Association's website. I was Secretary and webmaster for 13 years.

More school displays. All of them were regular happenings. None of it was put up for my benefit and it was very brave of them to chance it with someone they scarcely knew. My only reference came from the Italian Consul.

I was very impressed at the standard of learning at the school. I think that this really opened the eyes of the children to what the outside world was like. No more parochial little lives.

I was probably 15 before I knew who Socrates was. Here 9 & 10 year olds are learning thew lookand feel of ancient Greece. It shows what good education can really be like. Doesn't it make one sorry for the awful schools that there are around.

This school project seems to be aabout developing relations with schools abroad - notably Italy. The item on the left, partly out of shot, is about homework in an Italian school.

This display is specifically about the the Italian links and I am proud of the small part that I played in kicking it off. The ubiquitous Italian homework is there again.

Latterly, links with Poland were established on the same basis as the Italian ones though I know of no aid that was forthcoming from the Polish state.

I'm sure that my notes would fill me in on this if I could find them. It seems to be demonstrating that a passport will be needed to travel to the many destinations included in the displays. I case they don't know what a passport is they have a dummu one to inspect.

I really don't know what this is. I think it might be another school based abroad.

Not everything in Brooklands is so pleasant as Brooklands County Primary. There was a time when someone came early in the morning and scattered upto a hundred crusts from bread loaves over the green. She was difficult to find but we reckoned that she worked in a busy cafe or maybe a canteen with a night shift because she always scattered the bread early in the morning.

Nearby, at the end of Clover Croft, there is a small brick built station for one of the utilities and to protect his dog one bloke picked up the crusts and transferred them to the roof of this building. It was obviously in greater quantity than the birds could cope with.

Over time it turned into this orange sludge. It was grotesque. Most wild life either couldn't or wouldn't eat it, but still it kept on coming. Eventually, I traced the culprit who did it in all innocence. When the council people had a word she agreed at oncee to stop and then the clear up began.

About one week later the Council sent in the clean up team to remove it all with shovels. They spent some time cleaning up the area which was a good thing. As a Manchester Community Guardian I did my job and it was a success - no official action was taken and it all ended up as we wanted.

"Natalie Connor, 18, and her parents Michael and Jane, both 40, plotted to pour petrol through the letterbox of Lucy Cochrane's house in Manchester."

Brooklands has its seamy side, even its own double murder. This is the home of Maureen and Alex Cochrane and their daughter, Lucy, a special needs pupil. On the night of 12th January, 2006, Michael Connor, who didn't own a car, filled a petrol can (seen on this video clip) and took it to their home.

Lucy just survived the fire but both parents died.

Central to the story that evolves here is Wythenshawe Road. It has a short and direct link to the green belt. Seen here is a tongue of green belt that runs from the football pitch parallel to Clover Croft and heads for the important junction of Cranleigh Drive and its continuation as Wythenshawe Road; branching South from the junction is Maple Road with the mobile phone mast on the corner (indicated by a yellow ring).

Wythenshawe Road is cheek by jowl with the green belt.

"Petrol Can Man" - this is he. Michael Connor took the petrol and, with his wife keeping cave, poured it through the letter box of the Cochrane's home while they slept.

Though a mature man, his was the action of a moron; he was worse than any yob. On the whole, young yobs in Brooklands are merely irritating, it takes an old yob to really become detestible. The old ones are definitely the worst and worst of all are the pensioner yobs. "Sagazone", the Saga forum, has a lot of tales about uncouth pensioners - by pensioners.

Micael Connor got 30 years jail.

While he torched the home his wife, seen here, kept a lookout. Early reporting revealed how in the run up to the murder she had run out of her own home into the street screaming on the top of her voice that she was going to kill Lucy Cochrane for som imagined slight.

This is the sort of family that would make a teenage yob seem positively angelic. I have observed it so many times. The teenage yobs might get up to irritating mischief but it take a mature person to be genuinely evil. The teenagers are not morally bad but a handful of pensioners on the green belt are morally bankrupt. Not that it stops them going to church.

She, too, got 30 years jail.

Natalie Connor, seen here, was at the same school as her victim, Lucy Cochrane, whom she taunted unmercifully. Eventually, the school called in the police so Natalie pulled the obvious schoolgirl stunt of blaming it all on Lucy. However, this obvious trick was far too sophisticated for the police who instantly arrested the victim in spite of her learning difficulties. It is not unknown in Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for the police to accept the word of the first person to complain. I have experience of that myself.

She was jailed for 18 years.

While her parents were burning dow the Cochrane home with the family still in it Natalie was with her grandmother preparing to lie to the police to establish an alibi. Margaeret Robinson, the evil granny kept Natalie out of the way at her home in Wythenshawe Road while she prepared the cover up.

Thank goodness that she didn't succeed in her master stroke. She was sentenced to 18 months for perverting the course of justice.

In common with others over there she believed that lying to the police was a fine and honourable thing to do. Lying to the police comes like an optional extra with some of the dog walkers. I know them well and their CV's range from by-passing the gas meter to indecently assaulting a young girl. They still claim to have Christian values and can sing hymns with the best of them.

This is the victim of the campaign of hate. She wasn't terribly bright and she had not much defence when the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) arrested her on the basis that Natalie Connor told them to. The report of the IPCC may be seen at this web site.

She is alive and living in the south-east.

Both of these innocent parents were killed by the fire. Alex, the father, managed to reach hospital and died there but Maureen Cochrane expired in the flames.

What a miserable life they must have had before they finally perished. Their only daughter, vulnerable and harmless, attacked by the whole Connor family and then to witness the GMP joining in on the Connor's side by arresting their hapless daughter. And when all was said and done to be burnt alive in the sanctuary of their own home.

Later that Summer I had an interview with a senior police officer at which I gave my views on the GMP's record of arresting anyone at random. I urged caution and thinking things through before making rash decisions. The police officer agreed but I notice that they still do it.

This is the brook today, June 20th, 2008, waiting for its Summer cleanup. It won't be long now.

Here is someone who doesn't seem to mind it too much but I wonder how it manages to stalk its prey in all that long grass.

This is the stuff that gets pulled out of the brook.

And these are the people who do it. I believe that this picture appeared in their house magazine. I was asked to sign the forms required for them to be awarded their NVQ.

I took this picture purely so that I had a quick reference for their number.

Earlier this year I took a picture of this tree and remarked how heavy lifting gear must have been used to drape a big log over this "saddle" seen in the middle of the photo. It seemed impossible that it might be lifted off its perch let alone thrown in the brook.

Yet here it is languishing where it was thrown. How can it be possible that something that weighs half a ton can be moved by vandals.

A new vicar was ordained on Saturday 28th June in Manchester Cathedral. I am not very sure of the nomenclature for this occasion but I guess that the Rev Victoria Johnson is close. My wife and I didn't attend on the Saturday because we thought that we might be out of place.

But we had been invited so we were proud and honoured to attend at St John's on Brooklands Road on the Sunday. We know her as Vicky and I hope that doesn't sound too familiar. She gave communion and I think it was the first time. It was a terrific occasion and you may see what a spread there was in the background. Well done, ladies.

This picture was supplied by Vicky and , believe it or not, I'm in this frame. The windows turned out nice again.

The church was absolutely heaving and a special credit should go to the choir for their wonderful singing.

This one is the Vicar's own choice and one has to say that it is the best yet. It was taken by someone with privileged access after the service when Vicky was opening a cornucopia of presents from friends and the faithful. What a magnificent reception they gave her.

This picture shows the winter of February 2009 and how very suddenly we had a winter wonderland. A litle girl in Dalebrook Road made this one. I gave her an A4 print of it.

Later in the spring this is the sort of thing that has to be removed from the brook. I doubt if this could be the work of anyone living in Dalebrook Road, I hope!

A picture of young men who are flexing their muscles. Unfortunately, it is the green belt that is taking a thrashing..

On Saturday 8th August, 2009, the green belt was thronged with residents of Brooklands all out for a good time. The Flixton Silver band gave a very audible and entertaining display. This was taken early in the day before some of the events had arrived.

The "lily" has been professionally identified as Kentucky Skunk Cabbage and was probably washed down the stream. I have been advised to try to propagate it by Manchester Parks Dept. The trouble is that the scything tractor is due tomorrow and it might not survive.

Those kind people at the Environment Agency and the contractors from Congleton went out of their way to preserve the big lily. This picture shows the the carefully manicured bank with the kentucky Skunk Cabbage still intact.

I have emailed the agency about it.

Somewhere in Brooklands there is the Garden of Eden. I know it's true because one day God broke off a little bit of heaven and it fell to earth and all the really good people went to live there; and to this day it's still called Brooklands. Now there's a surprise - it might have been Birmingham!

So, we are proud to have in temperate Brooklands our very own outside bananas. Its location is a very dark secret. I was sworn to secrecy and had to wear a bag over my head when I took the pictures. Then I had to swear on oath not to divulge the location and to drive it all home I had to swear while standing on my head and drinking a bottle of milk - backwards!

There is a reason for showing this tree. In last winter's gales and storms a big tree came crashing down, leaving quite a gap. The long limb that you see here is quite bare on its top surface because previously it was dominated by the big tree but now there is light.

In the next two or three years it should be interesting to see just how much growth there will be on the top of the long limb. This happened before with picture number 44 where now the growth is dense.

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