One of Rochdale’s oldest buildings is the present Lloyd’s Bank in Lord Square. It originated in 1705. It is believed that this was the site of the original Rochdale settlement, and stands on part of the original market square. Originally called Union Buildings, it was the headquarters of Jacobite rebels in 1745. It was subsequently an inn, and then in the late-19th century it became shops and offices. Lloyd’s Bank Limited took possession in 1930.
St Leonards Parish Church, Middleton, The Old Boar’s Head Inn Middleton and Healey Dell Viaduct
St Chad’s Parish Church, Rochdale
Standing on Sparrow Hill, St Chad’s overlooks the town centre – it is Rochdale’s oldest building and originated in Saxon times. The tower dates from 1190 and parts of the churchyard wall are pre-1066. In the churchyard lie buried John Collier (also known as Tim Bobbin). The church represents many different styles and periods of architectural building, although it was sorely neglected in the early 19th century, and considerable restoration was carried out in 1873, as well the addition of the topmost section of tower, carried out by Crossland, the designer of Rochdale Town Hall.
St Leonard’s Parish Church, Middleton
This is a Grade 1 Listed building, being of both architectural and historical importance. Its tower dates from 1412, and much of its stonework comes from earl 12th century Norman origins. A school existed here since 1412, founded by Thomas Langley, Bishop of Durham and Chancellor of England. The school survives as Queen Elizabeth’s Senior High School, it being the oldest founded school in Greater Manchester. A great deal of extension and improvement was done by Lord Richard Assheton as thanksgiving for his delivery at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, and there is a Flodden Stained Glass Window bearing the names of Middleton archers who fought there. Around the year 1700 a wooden steeple was built on top of the tower and in 1714 a set of 5 bells were installed, later to be increased to eight, and these regularly rang the curfew until 1939, and still do so on special occasions.
Although modern Rochdale still has its fair share of industrial and commercial development, the major part of the borough is open countryside, or within view of it. To the north and east, the landscape is dominated by Pennine moorlands, while the south and west abounds in pleasant river valleys, farmland and woodlands. The whole Metropolitan Borough lies in the wide valley created by the Rivers Roch, Beal and Irk. The Rochdale Canal runs through the borough on its trans-Pennine route from Manchester to Huddersfield and beyond. Open Air and Leisure facilities are wide and varied, from the 155 acre Country Park at Hollingworth Lake to the Cheesden Valley which once ran 15 watermills and is now a conservation area. Fine country walks can be found around the Naden and Greenbooth Reservoirs, there is a Nature Reserve at the Ashworth Valley and Healey Dell, as well as the Piethorne Valley with its great walking opportunities and views. Rochdale also has 8 Golf Courses within its border, 5 Swimming Pools, 3 Sports Halls, and 28 Parks and Recreational Areas. Its professional Rugby Club, Rochdale Hornets, and Rochdale Association Football Club both play at the Spotland Stadium in Sandy Lane.
Rochdale Local Heroes
The town also claims some prominent and celebrated sons and daughters – the pop star Lisa Stansfield who was born and still lives in the town; radio and TV personalities Andy and Liz Kershaw were brought up in the borough; actress Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Gilroy in “Coronation Street” lives in Heywood; comedian songwriter Mike Harding was brought up and has a home in Middleton. Historic and celebrated figures from the past have included Samuel Bamford , born in Middleton; Edgar Wood the noted architect who lived and worked in Middleton; John Bright the famous political radical was born in Rochdale; Norman Evans, the great stage and radio comic hailed from Rochdale, and was discovered by Gracie Fields when he performed at the Rochdale Hippodrome; Lord Byron, the English Romantic poet, became a resident of Hopwood Hall in Rochdale in 1808 when he inherited the estate.
Middleton in the second largest settlement in the Borough. People born and brought up in Middleton can claim the traditional title of “Moonraker”. This refers to the legendary poachers who, at the approach of the local Constabulary, threw their booty in a pond and began raking the reflection of the moon in water, in the hope of recovering the green cheese. Many of the buildings reflect the influence of one of the towns most famous sons, the architect Edgar Wood. These are complemented by attractions such as St Leonard’s Parish Church, which has on eof the three remaining wooden church towers in the country, and Ye Olde Boar’s Head Inn on Long Street, which, according to legend, has a secret tunnel that links the inn with the Parish Church. Other famous residents of Middleton were Cardinal Thomas Langley and the writer Samuel Bamford. For more about Middleton, visit www.middleton-online.co.uk
Midway between Rochdale and Bury lies Heywood, which together with nearby villages of Heap Bridge, Hopwood and Hooley Bridge, accounts for some 15% of the Borough’s population. Heywood is surrounded by agricultural land, but is also a thriving and convenient centre for industry and distribution, being close to the M60, M62 and M66 motorways. The origins of Heywood date back to the 13th Century, but the area owes much of its character to the father of Sir Robert Peel, the originator of Britain’s first police force, who created the textile town from a greenfield site. For more about Heywood, visit www.heywood.org.uk
Littleborough, on the Pennine edge is one of the larger townships of Rochdale and has a history of both wool and cotton weaving. In the 15th Century Littleborough was only important because it stood at the junction of two ancient routes – the road over Blackstone Edge and the packhorse route climbing out of the valley to the Reddyshore Scout Gate and Todmorden. However, the coming of the Rochdale Canal (1794-1804) and the trans-Pennine railway changed that and by 1860 a small town was growing where the road and canal met.
Milnrow is a minor literary shrine to the Lancashire dialect satirst John Collier), and is a residential area full of character and variety. The village has its own shops, churches and pubs, and the magnificent Hollingworth Lake Country Park is on the doorstep. To find out more, visit www.milnrow.co.uk