The River Irwell, scene of the comical Boddington’s bitter ad, was once so polluted nothing could live in its foul water and it was listed as the 13th dirtiest river in Britain.

But now the tide has turned, the river has been stocked with several species of fish and anglers can once more be seen on its banks.

Graham Fitzpatrick, an Environment Agency fisheries scientist said, “There has been a dramatic improvement in the water quality in this part of the region, so we’re not surprised to hear that fishermen are now catching roach on a regular basis.

“In the past,” he added, “the Irwell and other rivers in the area have been badly affected because they have been devoid of oxygen due to sedimentation and boat traffic, but a lot of work has been done to turn that situation around.

“We have been stocking the Irwell with roach, bream and chub and we’re now beginning to see the fruits of that. Further up river there have been sightings of brown trout. A lot of people might be surprised by the amount and variety of fish there is now, but hopefully that will continue.”

One angler said he had seen kingfishers and other wildlife while fishing.