Whilst sitting with Maggie in Peel Park, looking at the foamy water in the River Irwell after church, Mossop says he can remember when the river was clean. In the early 1800s the river had fish, but by 1850 with the Industrial Revolution fish no longer could exist in it. In 1862 a River Conservancy Committee was established, and the Rivers Pollution Prevention Act was created in 1876, but enforcement of laws for sewage treatment and the prevention of pollution did not begin until the 1890s--the period of this play. Mossop was around Maggie's age--30--so he would not have been alive to see the river clean, not to mention full of fish. As of 2014 severe pollution in the River Irwell still causes the water to turn green and milky white, despite strenuous efforts to reverse the intense history of industrial pollution, such as oxygen injection to reverse the oxygen depletion.
The original Broadway production of "Hobson's Choice" by Harold Brighouse opened at the Princess Theater on November 2, 1915 and ran for 135 performances. The play moved to the Comedy Theater during the first month.
In the middle of the movie, Henry Hobson staggers drunk out of his favourite bar, The Moonrakers, and pursues the full moon's reflection in a puddle. This is likely an allusion to the legend of the Wiltshire moonrakers. An exciseman caught smugglers using rakes to retrieve barrels of contraband brandy hidden in a pond, but they explained they were after a wheel of cheese, pointing to the reflected moon; so the exciseman laughed at them and left them in peace.