Have a look at this old news reel.
The River Irwell comes in at 1.05 mins
There is a longer version here http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=32967 but I cant seem to get any sound with this one.
This is how I remember the river from my childhood - am I really that old!?!
The factories and chimneys are now all gone, though the foam still occasionally makes an appearance. My dad used to teach Spanish in the all girls convent school which was situated on the far bank just above the weir - He still can't believe that I catch fish from this weir pool.