Although first mentioned in the Doomsday book, the area around Rochdale is thought to have been settled from around 5000BC. 

The area lay on one of the packhorse routes linking Lancashire and Yorkshire and the River Roch, running through its centre was shallow and was able to be crossed by a Ford. 

Referred to as the manor of “Recedham” in 1087, around three hundred people lived within it. 

In 1251, a royal charter was granted for a weekly market in Rochdale one of the earliest of such charters to be granted in Lancashire 

The Parish Church of Rochdale, St Chads, dates back to 1194 although it may have had a much earlier foundation almost three hundred years before William the Conqueror arrived. 

Rochdale’s wealth was founded on textiles, beginning in the Middle Ages based on domestic manufacture. 

By the end of the 18th Century,Cotton Mills had begun to spring up first along the river but then across the area with the advent of steam power. 

Work also began on the Rochdale Canal, which would eventually create a water route linking Liverpool with Hull, the railway would come to the town in the 1840’s 

That decade would also see Rochdale became the birthplace of the Cooperative movement. In 1844 twenty eight working men would begin a movement that today stands at a billion pound shopping empire 

The population of the town increased from some 29,000 in 1851 to over 83,000 in 1901. 

The town, given its charter in 1856 is also associated with the the Free Trade Movement John Bright, was born there, and Richard Cobden, his fellow worker in the cause, was M.P. for the town. 

 Descriptions of Rochdale 

Celia Fiennes, writing about 1700, after describing the crossing of Blackstone Edge, from which she surveyed the country below, ‘as a fruitful valley, full of enclosures and cut hedges and trees,’ proceeds: ‘From the foot of this Blackstone I went to Rochdale, four miles; a pretty neat town, built all of stone. Here I went to an acquaintance’s house (Mr. Taylor) and was civilly entertained. Here is a good large meetingplace well filled; these parts religion does better flourish than in places where they have better advantages.’ (fn. 21) Defoe about 1724 described Rochdale as ‘a good market town, and of late much improved in the woollen manufacture, as are also the villages in its neighbourhood.’ 

Attractions 

Town Hall 

Its magnificent Town Hall built in 1871 takes pride of place in the centre of Rochdale, its original clock tower destroyed by fire in 1883 and rebuilt in 1887 is also home to a majestic stained glass window, that was supposed to be one of Adolf Hitler’s priority acquisitions should he have won the war. 

 Touchstones 

Touchstones Rochdale is the award winning Arts and Heritage Centre for Rochdale Borough with something special for everyone:Art Gallery, Local Studies and Archive, Museum, Tourist and Information, Café 

 St Chad’s Church 

Situated on an eminence overlooking the busy town of Rochdale, the Parish Church of St. Chad has been a geographical and spiritual focal point for at least 800 years.  

 Pioneers Museum 

The Rochdale Pioneers Museum is housed in the building where the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society started trading on 21 December 1844. The museum is regarded as the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement. 

 Hollingworth Lake 

The lake was originally built as the main water source for the Rochdale Canal, but developed as a tourist resort from the 1860s, and became known as the Weighver’s Seaport. Hotels were built around it, at least two of which had outdoor dancing stages with gas lighting. Tourism was helped by the arrival of the railway in 1839, which brought day-trippers and weekend visitors from Manchester, Bradford and Leeds. The popularity of the lake as a resort declined in the early twentieth century, and the area was used as an army camp during the First World War. The canal company sold the reservoir, with seven others, to the Oldham and Rochdale Corporations for water supply in 1923, by which time the canal was in terminal decline. After the Second World War, boating rights were bought by Rochdale Council, who developed the area into the Hollingworth Lake Country Park in 1974. There has been a steady increase in facilities since, and it is now a thriving centre for water sports and other activities.  

Watergrove Reservoir 

Watergrove Reservoir is a reservoir close to Wardle in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, within Greater Manchester, England. Rochdale Corporation chose Watergrove as a suitable site to build a large reservoir largely to a prolonged drought in the 1930s, resulting in water regularly being bought from Oldham. The ruins of the old village of Watergrove submerged under the large expanse of water in 1938, and dotted around the landscape above the reservoir there are several ruins originally belonging to the village 

Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum 

The Museum tells the story of firefighting, particularly in the Greater Manchester region. The area has played a significant role in the story of fire brigades and fire engineering. Manchester formed England’s first municipal fire service in 1826, whilst the country’s earliest motorised fire engine was delivered to Eccles in 1901. 

Gracie Fields Trail 

Rumoured to be the highest paid actress in the world in the 1930s, Gracie Fields was born in Rochdale.The trail features eight plaques which markkey locations in the life of the entertainer, 

 Healey Dell 

This lovely little nature reserve in Whitworth has lots of nice footpaths to follow through a densley wooded valley. You can enjoy the rushing water of the River Spodden with pretty waterfalls and lots of wildlife to look out for.  

There’s also water mills, picnic areas and the impressive 1867 Healey Dell Viaduct. The reserve has good facilities with a visitor centre providing lots of helpful information and a nice cafe. 

The reserve is in a great location for extending your walking in the area as there are number of waymarked footpaths to pick up.

 

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