Rochdale

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Rochdale (/ˈrɒtʃdeɪl/) is a large market town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies amongst the foothills of the Pennines on the River Roch, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) north-northwest of Oldham, and 9.8 miles (15.8 km) north-northeast of the city of Manchester. Rochdale is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, population 206,500. Rochdale is the largest settlement and administrative centre, with a total population of 95,796.

Historically a part of Lancashire, Rochdale’s recorded history begins with an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 under Recedham Manor. The ancient parish of Rochdale was a division of the hundred of Salford and one of the largest ecclesiastical parishes in England comprising several townships. By 1251, Rochdale had become important enough to have been granted a Royal charter. Subsequently, Rochdale flourished into a centre of northern England’s woollen trade, and by the early 18th century was described as being “remarkable for many wealthy merchants”.

Rochdale rose to prominence during the 19th century as a major mill town and centre for textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the first ever industrialised towns. The Rochdale Canal—one of the major navigable broad canals of the United Kingdom—was a highway of commerce during this time used for the haulage of cotton, wool, coal to and from the area. The socioeconomic change brought by the success of Rochdale’s textile industry in the 19th century led to its rise to borough status and it remained a dominant settlement in its region. However, during the 20th century Rochdale’s spinning capacity declined towards an eventual halt.

Rochdale today is a predominantly residential town. Rochdale Town Hall—a Grade I listed building—dates from 1871 and is one of the United Kingdom’s finest examples of Victorian Gothic revival architecture. Rochdale is the birthplace of the Co-operative Movement. The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, founded in 1844, was the first modern cooperative; the Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for cooperatives.

Rochdale seems to be named from its position on the River Roch but is recorded as Recedham in the Domesday Book. The name is derived from Old English reced meaming “hall”, and ham, a “homestead”. Over time, the name changed to Rachedale and eventually Rochdale. The river’s name is a back-formation from the Old English name, its name is /ˈroʊtʃ/, with a long o. Rochdale however, is pronounced /ˈrɒtʃdeɪl/, with a short o.

A Roman road, leading from Mamucium (Manchester) to (Eboracum) York, crossed the moors at Blackstone Edge.

During the time of the Danelaw, Rochdale was subjected to incursions by the Danes on the Saxons. The castle that Castleton is named after, and of which no trace remains, was one of twelve Saxon forts possibly destroyed in frequent conflicts that occurred between the Saxons and Danes during the 10th and 11th centuries.

Rochdale appears in the Domesday Book as Recedham. At the time of the Norman Conquest the manor was held by a Saxon thegn, Gamel. Before 1212 Henry II granted the manor to Roger de Lacy whose family retained it until it passed to the Dukes of Lancaster by marriage and then by 1399 to the Crown. John Byron bought the manor in 1638 and it was sold by the poet, Lord Byron, in 1823, to the Deardens, who hold the title. Rochdale had no manor house but the “Orchard” built in 1702 and acquired in 1745 by Simon Dearden was the home of the lords of the manor after 1823. It was described as “a red-brick building of no architectural distinction, on the north side of the river opposite the town hall” and sometimes referred to as the Manor House. It was demolished in 1922.

In medieval times, Rochdale was a market town, and weekly markets were held from 1250 when Edmund de Lacy obtained a grant for a market and an annual fair. The market was held outside the parish church where there was an “Orator’s Corner”.

The manufacture of woollen cloth particularly baize, kerseys and flannels were important from the reign of Henry VIII. At this time the industry was rooted in the domestic system but towards the end of the 18th century mills powered by water were built. Water power was replaced by steam power in the 19th century and coal mines, mostly drift mines, were opened where coal from the lower coal measures outcropped around the town. The Deardens who were lords of the manor were among the local coal owners. By the mid 1800s the woollen trade was declining and the cotton trade which took advantage of technological developments in spinning and weaving growing in importance. Rochdale became one of the world’s most productive cotton spinning towns when rose to prominence during the 19th century as a major mill town and centre for textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and amongst the first ever industrialised towns. By the end of the 19th century there were woollen mills, silk manufacturers, bleachers and dyers but cotton spinning and weaving were the dominant industries in Rochdale. The socioeconomic change brought by the success of Rochdale’s textile industry in the 19th century led to its rise to borough status and it remained a dominant settlement in its region. However, during the 20th century Rochdale’s spinning capacity declined towards an eventual halt.

The Rochdale Pioneers opened the first Cooperative shop in Toad Lane in 1844. The reformer and Member of Parliament, John Bright (1811–1889), was born in Rochdale and gained a reputation as a leader of political dissent and supporter of the Anti-Corn Law League.

Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire since the early 12th century, Rochdale was recorded in 1066 as held by Gamel, one of the twenty-one thegns of the Hundred of Salfordshire.

The ancient ecclesiastical parish of Rochdale was divided in to four townships: Butterworth, Castleton, Hundersfield and Spotland. Hundersfield was later divided into four townships: Blatchinworth, Calderbrook, Wardleworth and Wuerdle and Wardle. Excluding the large chapelry of Saddleworth, which lay entirely in Yorkshire, the parish of Rochdale had an area of 65.4 square miles (169.4 km2).

In 1825 commissioners for the social and economic improvement of the town were established. The town became part of a parliamentary borough in 1832. Under the terms of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 Rochdale became the head of Rochdale Poor Law Union which was established on 15 February 1837 despite considerable local opposition. In 1856 Rochdale was incorporated as a municipal borough, giving it borough status in the United Kingdom and after 1858 it obtained the powers of the improvement commissioners. In 1872 the remaining area of Wardleworth township and parts of Castleton, Wuerdle and Wardle, Spotland and Butterworth townships were added to the borough.

When the administrative county of Lancashire was created by the Local Government Act 1888, Rochdale was elevated to become the County Borough of Rochdale and was effectively a unitary authority area exempt from the administration of Lancashire County Council. In 1900 most of Castleton Urban District was added to the borough; this urban district included parts of Castleton, Hopwood and Thornham townships. In 1933 parts of Norden Urban District and Birtle with Bamford civil parish were added to the borough. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the town’s autonomous county borough status was abolished. The municipal boroughs of Middleton and Heywood and Littleborough, Milnrow and Wardle urban districts are now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, one of the ten metropolitan boroughs in Greater Manchester.

Since 1953, Rochdale has been twinned with Bielefeld in Germany and since 1956 with Tourcoing in France, as well as Sahiwal in Pakistan since 1988.

The Rochdale constituency was created by the Reform Act of 1832.

Rochdale stands about 150 feet (46 m) above sea level, 9.8 miles (15.8 km) north-northeast of Manchester city centre, in the valley of the River Roch. Blackstone Edge, Saddleworth Moor and the South Pennines are close to the east, whilst on all other sides, Rochdale is bound by smaller towns, including Whitworth, Littleborough, Milnrow, Royton, Heywood and Shaw and Crompton, with little or no green space between them.

Rochdale’s built environment consists of a mixture of infrastructure, housing types and commercial buildings from a number of periods. Rochdale’s housing stock is mixed, but has a significant amount of stone or red-brick terraced houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rochdale’s Town Hall, seven large tower blocks and a number of former cotton mills mark the town’s skyline. The urban structure of Rochdale is regular when compared to most towns in England, its form restricted in places by its hilly upland terrain. Much of Rochdale’s built environment is centred around a central business district in the town centre, which is the local centre of commerce.

There is a mixture of high-density urban areas, suburbs, semi-rural and rural locations in Rochdale, but overwhelmingly the land use in the town is urban. For purposes of the Office for National Statistics, it forms the fifth largest settlement of the Greater Manchester Urban Area, the United Kingdom’s third largest conurbation. As of the 2001 UK census, Rochdale had a population of 95,796.

Rochdale Town Hall is a Victorian-era municipal building “widely recognised as being one of the finest municipal buildings in the country”. The Grade I listed building is the ceremonial headquarters of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council and houses local government departments, including the borough’s civil registration office. Built in the Gothic Revival style it was inaugurated on 27 September 1871. The architect, William Henry Crossland, won a competition held in 1864. The town hall had a 240-foot (73 m) clock tower topped by a wooden spire with a gilded statue of Saint George and the Dragon which were destroyed by fire on 10 April 1883. A new 191-foot (58 m) stone clock tower and spire in the style of Manchester Town Hall was designed by Alfred Waterhouse, and erected in 1888. Art critic Nikolaus Pevsner described the building as possessing a “rare picturesque beauty”. Its stained glass windows, some designed by William Morris, are credited as “the finest modern examples of their kind”. The building came to the attention of Adolf Hitler who was said to have admired it so much that he wished to ship the building, brick-by-brick, to Nazi Germany had the United Kingdom been defeated in World War II.

The war memorial bearing four sculpted and painted flags, is opposite the town hall. It commemorates those who died in conflicts since the First World War (1914–1918). The monument and surrounding gardens were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The earliest routes around Rochdale were tracks and packhorse routes and a paved track over Blackstone Edge into Yorkshire that had Roman origins. As trade increased the Blacksone Edge turnpike road was built in 1735.

The M62 motorway to the south of the town is accessed via the A627(M), which starts at Sandbrook Park in Rochdale and runs to Elk Mill in Royton, Oldham. The A627(M) provides drivers a quick access to the M62 and to Oldham.

The idea for the Rochdale Canal emerged in 1776, when James Brindley was commissioned to survey possible routes between Sowerby Bridge and Manchester. However it was not until 4 April 1794 that an Act of Parliament was obtained. The broad canal which linked the Bridgewater Canal in Manchester with the Aire and Calder Navigation at Sowerby Bridge became a major artery of commerce between Lancashire and Yorkshire for cotton, wool, coal, limestone, timber, and salt. The canal is fed from Hollingworth Lake. The canal fell into disuse and re-opened in 2003 after years of neglect, including its division by a motorway.

Demand from the cross-Pennine trade to support local cotton, wool and silk industries led to the building of the Manchester and Leeds Railway which opened in 1839 from Manchester to Littleborough, and from Normanton to Hebden Bridge in 1840. The linking section opened on completion of the Summit Tunnel in 1841. Rochdale railway station is about a mile south of the town centre. Trains run to Manchester Victoria, Halifax, Dewsbury, Bradford and Leeds.

The service to Manchester Victoria via the Oldham Loop ended in October 2009, in preparation for conversion of the line to an extension of the Manchester Metrolink tram system. It was deferred in 2004 on grounds of cost but in July 2006 plans were approved for the extension from Manchester Victoria as far as Rochdale Station, and is expected to be complete in Summer 2012. The extension to Rochdale town centre, via Drake Street and terminating opposite Rochdale bus station, should be completed by 2014.

St Chad’s Church was the mother church of the ancient ecclesiastical parish and was founded before 1170 possibly on a Saxon site. Much of the current building is the result of late Victorian restoration. A local legend relates that the site was chosen by spirits and fairies as on several occasions stone for the church building was moved from near the river to the hill on which St. Chad’s stands. The church is accessed from the town below by a flight of 124 steps. The old town stocks are in the churchyard.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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