Winter Hill

It’s pretty bizarre driving past Winter Hill at the moment, as I do on my way to work every day- the hillside is on fire and has been since last week. Two fires converged and although the main fires have now been contained the peat is still burning, smoke still visible for miles. The whole hillside is smouldering.

Winter Hill has a long history dating back to Bronze Age burial sites and has been the site of several air crashes, including one in 1958 which killed 35 people, an Isle Of Man to Manchester flight crashing near the summit. There was a crash in the 1920s and then during and after the Second World War Spitfires and Hurricanes went into the hillside fairly regularly. The TV mast seems to attract them rather than warn them off. There have also been several alleged UFO sightings, one involving a farmer and ‘a dark object hovering close to the ground’ as recently as 1999.

I posted this before back in October 2016 but it’s begging for a re-post. A Certain Ratio’s tribute to Winter Hill was the closing song on their 1981 To Each… album, a 12 minute instrumental trip based around an intense, alternating 2 note drone. Donald Johnson plays drums like his life depends on them while the rest of ACR blow their whistles. Hannett mans the controls.

Winter Hill

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Winter Hill

Winter Hill sits north of Manchester on Rivington Moor, near Chorley and Bolton with Blackburn and Darwen further north. On top of it is an enormousTV mast which can be seen for miles around. I pass it on the way to work. Next Saturday a few of us are going to Blackburn to see A Certain Ratio play at St George’s Hall. Given its part in the story of the north west’s musical history- Blackburn’s warehouse parties in the late 80s, the Sett End in Shadsworth etc- you’d imagine that ACR might pull a decent sized crowd. When we got our tickets a few days ago they came in the post number 47, 48. 49 and 50. At least we should be able to get a good view and place down at the front.

In 1981 ACR released Winter Hill on their To Each… album. Produced by Martin Hannett, Winter Hill is a twelve minute long journey in sound, with some urgent drumming and whistles and an alternating two note drone. Stick with it as the tension builds and then fades away.