Way Down to Pomona (2020)

An immersive re-imagining of Pomona Island’s history through field recordings, composed electroacoustic music, oral histories and archival material (with thanks to Greater Manchester County Record Office) that are unveiled as the site is explored by the listener based on their GPS data. Can be accessed through the Echoes app on your smartphone.

Suspended between the Bridgewater Canal and the River Irwell, this concrete island bountiful with flora and fauna exists in a strange limbo between its industrial past and inevitable destruction and development. This area has an extremely rich history which will soon be forgotten as the land is gentrified. In the 1800s Pomona Island was a place of leisure, with the name Pomona originating from the Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards; promoted to the locals as a way of enjoying the countryside without the need for a train ticket. The land was home to Pomona Palace, the biggest hall of its kind in the country, fit with a 100 ft clock tower, that could host 30,000 people for dances, concerts and political rallies. The Palace’s gardens included a variety of entertainment, including a hedge maze, flying swings, archery, zoological and botanical gardens, and hosted events such as dog racing, circus shows and other forms of public entertainment. On the 22nd June 1887, there was an explosion at a nearby chemical’s factory that damaged the Palace significantly, leading to its closure the following year. Pomona’s next lease of life was as a bustling dockland for the Manchester Ship Canal, up until its closure in the 1970s. For the past 40 years or so Pomona has been left to its own devices and has become an urban oasis of rare wildlife and flora. However, in recent years landowners PEEL development group have begun the destruction of the space so it doesn’t get listed as a place of ecological importance and to prepare it for its imminent development and gentrification.