Manchester's Ten  Metropolitan Boroughs




Town & Borough of Rochdale

Rochdale is probably
best known as the birthplace of the singer, Gracie

and as the birthplace of the Co-operative Movement. The present Metropolitan
Borough was formed out of six independent local authorities in the early
1970s – Heywood, Littleborough, Middleton, Milnrow, Rochdale and Wardle
– and stretches from the north-eastern side of Manchester to the Pennines
and the borders of South Yorkshire. Rochdale
is the main town and is the administrative and commercial centre of
the borough.
Rochdale was
a major weaving district, and the upper floors of cottages in towns
like Wardle, Littleborough and Milnrow still bear evidence of Weaver’s
windows, where cotton, and earlier wool, was woven.

Rochdale Town HallYork Street shopping, RochdaleSt Chad's Parish Church, RochdaleRochdale Pioneers Museum
Rochdale Town Hall, Yorkshire Street shopping centre, St Chad Parish
Church and the original Rochdale Pioneers Co-operative

History of Rochdale

Rochdale appears
in the Domesday Book under the name of Recedham Manor, and was part
of the Salford Hundred. Ownership of the manor belonged to the Crown
in 1399, and continued so until it was purchased by John Byron in 1638.
It was eventually sold by the poet Lord Byron in 1823, when it passed
to the Dearden family, who still hold the title. In earlier medieval
times, Rochdale had been an important market town, with weekly markets
held from the 13th century, and an annual fair. The market was held
outside the parish church, and had a long-standing “Orator’s Corner”.
The local
reformer and Rochdale MP, John
spoke here on Anti-Corn Law Reform.

Rochdale Town Hall
Rochdale Town Hall.
Aerial Photo Courtesy of © 2005

By Tudor times it
had already become an important area for the manufacture of woollen
cloth. The present St Chad’s parish church was built in 1194, on the
site of an earlier church which dates from 769 AD. It was not until
1891 that the town stocks were removed from near the church gates. By
the eighteenth century, as steam power took over in the new textile
mills, the many fast-flowing streams which ran down from the neighbouring
Pennine Hills made Rochdale, and its six towns, very strategically placed
to develop textile production into a fully mechanised and productive
Most of the
mills have now gone. Yet there survive many vestiges of its mechanisms,
its millponds, water channels and converted mill buildings. The Cheesden
Valley, a pleasant country walking trail, high above Heywood still has
industrial remains of this era, and the Ellenroad
Steam Engine
, near Milnrow has been restored to a fully working
The industrial
wealth of Rochdale, and its growing importance as an industrial and
political entity, resulted in the town being grant Municipal Borough
status in 1856, upon which the council immediately sought to build a
fine new Town Hall (pictured top left) as a matter of civic pride. Suitable
land was purchased alongside the River Roch, and a competition to design
a new town hall was announced. The foundation stone of the winning design,
by William Henry Crossland of Leeds, was laid on 31st March 1866 and
the building was completed in September 1871 at a total cost of �160,000.
It is a grand, imposing and elegant building, which dominates the approach
to the town from Manchester. Its two main features are the porte-coch�re,
an entrance porch large enough to receive and shelter horse-drawn carriages,
and its bell tower, a campanile-type structure, separated from the main
Later, the
River Roch was paved over, and still runs beneath the town centre, in
order that trams could be routed into the town. Trams ran until November

Aerial Photograph of Rochdale
Rochdale and the Pennine Hills. Aerial Photo Courtesy of © 2005




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This page last updated 16 Nov 12.