Bickershaw is a 247 hectare nature reserve that is located on the site of the former Bickershaw Colliery in Leigh, Greater Manchester. Following the closure of the coal pit in 1992, the fate of the site fluctuated according to the changing political and economic winds of the age. During the relative boom years of the New Labour government, plans were drawn up to convert large swathes of the land into a golf course complete with visitor’s center. These grand ambitions were swiftly abandoned with the global economic crash of 2008.
Through the years of austerity that followed, Bickershaw, like many brownfield sites across the UK, remained an unmanaged post-industrial wilderness. Characterised by spoil-heap dunescapes from the mining years, and punctuated by signs of low-level criminal activity, the site was largely off limits for the local residents that inhabited the housing developments on its periphery. Throughout these years of neglect, nature, in all its chaos and tenacity, has thrived amongst the remnants of human excess.
In an era of environmental calamity where ecological issues have come to the fore, Bickershaw has recently become a point of focus for the local council and charities who’s laudable aim is to rewild and restore the site in an image of semirural harmony. The fresh maze of quad bike trails, burnt out vehicles and the remnants of an illegal rave attest to a continuing resistance to this idyllic vision and speaks to the larger paradoxes that confront us today around our place in the natural world. These images taken on this contested and mutable landscape, describes the mystery and imperfection that lies at the heart of every Eden.