The newsletter editor is always pleased to receive contributions to be considered for inclusion. The views expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect official LCT policy or opinion.
It is expected that anyone who wishes to make use of any material from the newsletter will seek the approval of the editor Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. Tel. 0422 885173
Chairman: Don Pickis, Lightowlers, Blackstone Edge. Tel. 378849
Vice Chairman: Dan Docker, 93 Church Street. 372001
Secretary: Michael Farrell, 41, Hollingworth Road. 370154
Treasurer: Geoff Sutcliffe, 14 Buckley Terrace, Wardle, Tel. 40369.
Membership Secretary: Lincoln Jackson, 1 Moorfield View, Shore. Tel. 370542
Minutes Secretary: Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. 378849.
David Hall, 6 Nelson Street
Pauline Hopkinson, 12, Glencoe Place, Rochdale. 522447
Peter Jackson, 8, Chelburn View. 373112
Roy Prince, 14 Milbury Drive, Tel. 378883.
Jill Roberts, 12 Whitfield Brow, Todmorden Road.74175
Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 0422 885173
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. 378043
John Street, Calder Cottage. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. 344711
Alf Tortoishell, Edgemoor, Blackstone Edge Old Road. 378849
Please pass on any suggestions that you have about the Trust and its work to any of the above.
House of Lords
The Rt. Hon. LORD BARNETT.
Congratulations and best wishes to everyone in Littleborough Civic Trust on their 21st Anniversary. They have done a wonderful job over the years in the best interests of the town.
11th September 1992
Littleborough Civic Trust is now 21 years old. To celebrate the occasion much of this newsletter has been devoted to some of our long standing members' own recollections of '21 Years with the Trust’.
As your new Editor and past Secretary I make no apologies for devoting so much space to these special contributions, they reflect the care and concern which so many people hold for Littleborough and its environment.
However, I do apologise for all the omissions - the articles are personal to the writers and in no way represent a fully comprehensive list of the numerous contributions to Trust work carried out by many bodies. These bodies include Trust members, sponsors, public bodies, groups and 'Jo Public'. It is this rich mixture of involvement which makes the Trust more credible, reliable and responsive to local needs. The article on the Tree Nursery shows just how much work, fun and co-operation goes into a '1-line entry' in our 21st Diary. It is hoped that you all can recognise and enjoy some of these episodes in the Trust's past and that they underline the fact that it is definitely well worth while being a member of LITTLEBOROUGH CIVIC TRUST.
21 years ago to be 'green' was to be odd, but a little bit of mockery wasn't enough to put off a group of Littleborough residents from forming what was then the Littleborough Civic Society. I became the 1st Chairman (basically because no-one else would), thoroughly enjoying the job.
Our first ideas in those days were no more ambitious than clearing derelict land and tidying up the local environment. The present members of the Trust are very much better organised and listened to than ever we were!
My very best wishes go out to all the members of the Civic Trust, let's hope the next 21 years are equally enjoyable and successful.
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"The illimitable, silent, never resting thing called Time,
rushing on, swift, silent, like an all embracing ocean tide,
on and on and never ceasing, that on which we and all the Universe
swim like exhalations."
H.G. Wells attempted "A Brief History of the World"; Douglas Adams in a light hearted vein discovered that his "Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" led to "Life, the Universe and Everything". The problem with any "Brief History" is what to leave out.
Please excuse, dear reader, any omissions; in fact please use the concern aroused to write to us about them, for the record.
Donald Pickis, Chairman.
DIARY ENTRIES 1971-1992
Littleborough Civic Society starts life.
Littleborough Civic Society now Civic Trust carries out its first major project.
Report adopted by newly formed GMC.
August 9th: Littleborough Civic Trust joins Todmorden Antiquarians Society and Todmorden Conservation Group to set up Steanor Bottom Toll House Steering Group. Purpose, to restore and find use for the Toll House.
Rochdale Canal Society set up with considerable impetus from a nucleus of Civic Trust members. Purpose, to reopen the Rochdale Canal, to promote the canal for recreation and pleasure purposes and to integrate it into the proposed Pennine Park recreational area.
Civic Trust 'Logo' adopted from winning entry in Logo competition among local schools.
Steanor Bottom Society set up with full Civic Trust status. £5000 loan offered from newly formed Architectural Heritage Fund towards restoration costs.
November 15th: Public meeting approves scheme to make semi-derelict Coach House, Lodge Street into a multi-purpose community building.
Greater Manchester ‘County's’ Draft Structure Plan leads to designation of Conservation Areas including Littleborough Town Centre.
Restoration and extension of Steanor Bottom Toll House completed and advertised for private sale.
Littleborough Civic Trust sponsors area meeting to promote walking, deal with blockages and safeguard walkers' and landowners'/users' interests. NFU, Ramblers, North West Water, Manor of Rochdale and interested individuals attend.
Littleborough Coach House Trust Ltd receives £15,000 loan from Architectural Heritage Fund - repayable in 2 years.
October: Coach House Heritage Centre opened by the Rt. Hon. Lord Barnett.
Greater Manchester ‘County’ Structure Plan approved Hollingworth Lake Country Park Visitor Centre, tree planting and improved car parking.
Littleborough Civic Trust arranges visit to Plysu's factory in Milton Keynes, a public meeting and an exhibition following their Littleborough planning application.
Littleborough Civic Trust creates garden on derelict land at the bottom of Barnes Meadows with help from Shell UK and Oldham & Rochdale Groundwork Trust
Littleborough Civic Trust arranges well-attended public meeting regarding proposed town centre supermarket.
Dinner dance held by Littleborough Civic Trust at Coach House, sponsored by Akzo and many local traders.
Local Authority work to Littleborough Town Centre Conservation Area. Trust expresses concern at lack of public consultation.
Local Authority publishes Unitary Development Plan proposals.
Littleborough Civic Trust is offered services of 'Business in the Community’ to carry out commercial survey to supplement Local Authority Feasibility Study for the areas around the High School, Harehill House and the recreation grounds.
Donald Pickis, Chairman.
A small boy I know was heard to say when watching pictures of the Berlin Wall coming down, "Why can't we be history?"
So here I am recounting what I can recollect of the Civic Trust's early days and its history, not momentous events, but just what happened in a small town. During my first years of living in Littleborough I'd been involved with the recently formed Rochdale Civic Society, because I can't remember a time when I didn't care -'go on about' - the surroundings (now it might be called the 'environment') in which I live. And at that time I used to enjoy a visit to the library to chat with Joan Higson, to pour over Fred Jackson's memoirs, or to read about the Beautiful Littleborough Society.
So when a civic society was formed it seemed quite natural to join and support. Finding a new group of friends who were as interested as I was, some incomers, some local born and bred, but all of us building on Gordon Harvey's dream of making Littleborough as pleasant as the Lake District, was the beginning.
Trees and Gardens
Gordon Harvey cared very much for trees and those remaining wind-bent poplars were planted at his instigation. He wanted all the roads into Littleborough lined with trees. I think I can say that without exception the members of the Civic Trust were always keen to plant trees. Memorable plantings I can remember are the Jubilee Oak (we thought an oak was a suitable English heritage sort of tree) which Joel Barnett planted at the Lake and the several ornamental trees which we gave to the churches around Littleborough under the scheme, 'Plant a Tree in '73'. Actually it took us a bit more to get organised, and they were actually planted in '74, 'Plant Some More in '74'.
Then there were many saved from the axe right up to today, including the graceful Birch outside the new supermarket, by Preservation Orders. This is history and some trees we planted, for example the flowering cherry on Station Approach, have already been felled for the new developments - it lasted just 18 years. Interest in trees brought about the award winning scheme of the Tree Nursery, so hopefully we'll be able to ‘Plant a Tree in '93 and Some More in '94.
One of our gardens too disappeared - we co-operated with Fothergill & Harvey, as it was then, to build a small garden in memory of Gordon Harvey just below the car park at Summit. I suppose it was a net gain as it had to go in the opening up of the Summit Lock to re-open the canal and a landscaped area was created on the canal side.
The Rochdale Canal
Many of us were interested in opportunities offered by and the historical importance of the Littleborough stretch of the Rochdale Canal. Keith Parry, a water enthusiast, wrote up the history and made sketches for giving out to the public and included it in his idea of an 'open air' museum. We never quite established the latter formally, but maybe there is now a greater pride in Littleborough assets. And who would have thought the canal restoration would have been achieved in our lifetime?
In the early days to show our concern we organised cleaning parties - a bit like picking up pebbles on the beach. On one early cleaning party I cut myself badly and had to be rushed off to the Infirmary for an anti-tetanus injection, much fun being gained at the parts afflicted! More and more members became interested in the Canal and a Sub-Committee was formed in the upstairs 'Oddfellows' room where we used to meet (the cottage itself was a Listed Buil¬ding then). Eventually the Rochdale Canal Society was formed as an independent body.
Having a historic station in our midst was something the Trust valued. We were pleased when the rail buildings were included in the Town Centre Conservation Area, as so often, with the help of Greater Manchester County Council staff. On the other hand we were sorry to lose, as one of our members put it, a place to spend a penny and, more importantly, a substantial shelter. One day maybe such a shelter will be provided on the Manchester side. We joined with another group, Transport 2000, to defend our line. It looks as though that struggle may come round again, just as the environmental value of rail travel is becoming very obvious.
The Country Park
Caring about our green and open spaces led us very early, after the publication of some possible mini fairground proposals for the Lake, to set about writing a full scale report recommending a Country Park at the Lake; and full scale it certainly was. We sat up till midnight disputing the fine points of the report - but always with good humour. One of our staunchest and most observant members kept saying we must keep the bridge, in the quarry below Bear Hill. Most of us at that time didn't even know there was a bridge and it became known as Rita's bridge. (It's still there!) The report and recommendations were produced and sent off. There wasn't much public support. For example the Rochdale Observer’s line was consistently, "Why change things when they've served us well since the time of the 'Weighvers' Seaport’?" But of course the public were not being well served with traffic jams right round the Lake and back down to Halifax Road on sunny Sundays.
With changes of heart at the Countryside Commission and the foresighted support of the newly formed Greater Manchester Council, the Park came into being. Again there was criticism, this time it was of the 'jobs for the boys' variety, although not any one of us who had sweated over meetings, had a paid job with the Authority. We were all glad to see the area cared for, litter cleaned up, landscaping carried out and the centre built. Glad too that another of our members persuaded the then management committee to build the Centre with stone facing and not supermarket brick. One facility never achieved was a traffic free footpath between the end of the dam and the turn off to Rakewood. At least unfinished tasks give us plenty more work for the future!
One of our earliest involvements with planning applications was that for a fly-ash brick making plant on Todmorden Road. For some of us it was our first experience of a Public Inquiry. It was interesting in that it was a genuine inquiry where the views of local people were listened to. Probably the turning point in the debate was when a local lady stood up and said that she could see buttercups from her window and if the plant came what would happen to the buttercups? The application was turned down.
An application won by the developer which we contested was that for Portakabin extensions and the change of land use from farming to industrial. At the time we felt that Portakabin wanted to stretch, or at least obtain land designated for industrial use, from Littleborough to York! They got their permission, but not many years after closed down. However the succeeding company has proved to be co-operative with the local community, in the tradition of early industrial companies in Littleborough.
I remember for Heritage Year in 1977, we set up a small exhibition in the Victoria Street Methodist Church (now ironically enough demolished). We had assembled photos and drawings of local halls, cottages, pubs, churches and chapels. We were concerned to show the variety of building materials, especially local stone. We also wanted to show examples of local bricks so I spent some time washing aban¬doned bricks from the garden and cleaning up Larry the Lion who must have been whimsically produced at Hall and Rogers brickworks.
We together started the search for a central meeting room, preferably in an old building and that saw the birth of the Coach House group and ultimately the Coach House Trust and the whole development. I remember going round the stables and the old timber yard with the architects late one afternoon when there was a violent autumn storm. Could we ever restore and convert it, we pondered, as we looked up at the rain pouring through the broken roof. When I got home, our own ceiling had collapsed under the force of water!
It was always in the Civic Trust like a Fair Isle jumper, the delight of discovering threads of what happened before and weaving them into the present. An early surveyor in Littleborough had loved walking and had charted all our public footpaths - a staggering 600. Many members loved walking and we soon had a lively group meeting on Sundays, who went out in all weathers. Their vigilance and knowledge of the area (the 'Definitive Footpath Map’ was often unfurled among the shampoos in a well-known local emporium) in braving barbed wire and barking dogs has kept most of our paths 'open'. Dogs were, and are, a special problem as we were told by the police that they could only take action if we were bitten. Unfortunately care for open footpaths did not extend to this. This account is getting now far too long and I know I must have left so much out - meetings, research, campaigns, visits, litter-clearing, digging, planting. Above all I do remember enjoying our meetings, always finding something of interest and somebody to share a laugh with. I hope the group continues well into the 21st century, our environment improves and our 'history’ goes on being made."
Twenty one years on and we are still trying! - trying to improve our environment, trying to instil our (sometimes flagging) enthusiasm for what the Trust is all about and trying also to make sense of the rules and regulations imposed on us through Local and National Authorities....
Having been in at the start, so to speak, I don't think on the whole, that we've done too badly. The maxim "You win some, you lose some" is in our case, very true. I'm concentrating here on the positive aspect . . .!
Looking back over the past 21 years it is the people first and foremost and particularly those on the Committee who come to mind. (You can't be a member of a Committee for 21 years and not become affected in some way by its members). Those who sadly are no longer with us will be remembered, like Fred Harte and his love of the moors, walking them and his association with the moorland rescue and also his 'peculiar mode’ of driving his car! Geoff Wilson, his help with the initial stages of setting up Hollingworth Lake Country Park and his fund of wildly extravagant experiences and funny stories! Bert Cannon who was always so willing to give his help; Tommy Walker with his wonderful fund raising schemes (he will be remembered by those Committee members who were present when he suddenly fired a gun in a meeting! This was to show us his method of frightening off. angry dogs who were harassing the footpath walkers!) Alma Harper and her catering abilities and paper doilies which were a 'must'. Harry Dearden - these and many more come to mind. The two features exhibited by them all were their enthusiasm and sincerity.
During our 21 years the Trust has become quite well known locally for our catering abilities. Functions held in the Visitor's Centre at the Lake were well attended and visitors well fed!! We have held two dances in the Cricket Club (one in fancy dress) and our 1989 Dinner Dance in the Coach House will, I'm sure, be remembered by all who attended. Every Trust occasion has always involved food!
In our efforts to bring the work of the Civic Trust to the children, we have tried to involve them in many of our projects. Litter Clean-ups, ground clearing, plant and bulb-planting etc. over the years have been successful and our search for a logo for the Trust was achieved in 1975 through a competition among our local schools. We hope the schools will continue to be involved with our work - after all we need them as our next generation of Trust members.
Luckily the remnants of the Trust's garden in the Station approach still remain and 'Don's wall’ is still there! On a personal note a lot of time has been spent for, on behalf of and with the Littleborough Civic Trust. We've made a lot of friends, visited a lot of places and exchanged a lot of ideas with other like-minded folk. I hope some of our enthusiasm has rubbed off on others!
In 1973: we planted trees,
In 1974; we planted more
In 1992: there's still a lot to do . . .
Roll on the next 21 years!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And. . . .Extract from LCT Newsletter 1978....
How Members Travel!
Enjoying herself in Sorrento this April, one member thought she saw another Civic Trust member strolling down the main street - but she had disappeared before contact could be made. Mutual confirmation that both adventurers had been in Sorrento at the same time was given by the Blackstone Edge milk lady who delivers milk and passes messages to both houses.
The Tree Nursery was an idea formed over a period of time by members of the Littleborough Civic Trust to help increase the number of trees of native species in the area, particul¬arly on the hillsides above and around Littleborough.
An idea is fine, but where do you start on such a project? Firstly, to get to the root of the problem, we decided to form a sub-committee of interested members which would be known as the Tree Group. This we did, and the first meeting was in August 1990.
At the first meeting the group, composed of Pauline Hopkinson, Ann Lawson, Jill Roberts, Judith Schofield and myself, discussed the way in which to set about what seemed to be a mammoth task - the locating and obtaining of a piece of land suitable for a nursery site and finding funds to finance it - after all, money doesn't grow on trees!
After a visit to the Forestry Commission tree nursery at Delamere Forest, where we established a better idea of what our needs might be, we began to make enquiries with local landowners and businesses over the possibility of letting a small parcel of land. There were conditions of course - we needed the land for a minimum of three years, it had to be quite close to a supply of water, preferably level and readily accessible - yet hopefully not too accessible to vandals. With such self-imposed conditions we were left with very few sites to choose from, and after a couple of months of fruitless searching we had really begun to bow with disappointment.
It was at this juncture that Alan Lawson twigged it for us and said that Courtaulds, with whom he worked and whom we know are very keen on environmental matters, would be pleased to offer us a site at a 'peppercorn’ rent. The said site was next to the playing fields off Jubilee Walk, near their Sladen Mill. Alan met us down there and we marked off an area 40 metres by 60 metres that we thought would be adequate for our needs. Through Alan, Courtaulds kindly allowed us the use of the exact area that we had marked.
Meanwhile our 'finance section’ had been busy and had applied for a grant from British Gas under their 'Grass Roots' scheme. We were extremely fortunate in being granted £1,100, British Gas being impressed by the nature of the project and the scope of the groups that we hoped to involve and we were presented with a certificate to mark the occasion. The presentation took place on the site of the tree nursery with Rob Pressey for British Gas; John Lindsay, Alan Lawson and Martin Watson for Courtaulds and members of the Civic Trust in attendance, with a subsequent photograph being printed in the Rochdale Observer.
It was now summer 1991 and we had achieved our first aim. We now had the site and we had the funding. The second stage could begin - the fencing of the area and the prep¬aration of the ground. We decided we would initially rotovate the whole of the area whilst it was unfenced, even though in the first season we would only use a fraction of it. At least this way the soil would be a little looser as we came to dig it in later seasons. We had a number of firms quote for the job and we eventually decided on PNS Garden Services, who did it marvellously. For the fencing, we contacted Mark Hopley, local Field Officer for the British Trust of Conservation Volunteers. Mark was only too pleased to offer his own and his team's expert advice and practical help in locating the materials and erecting the fence. This project was spread over many hours through the winter of 1991/92, undertaken by a number of volunteers under BTCV guidance. The resulting fence was superbly sheep and rabbit proof. The fence was complemented by a sign painted by the local artist Tony Clift of Wardle.
And so now we had it, a well-constructed, clearly marked, rotovated compound, which had yet to earn the right to its name of 'tree nursery'. At this point we applied for, and were again fortunate in receiving, a grant - this time for a total of £735 from the Countryside Commission.
Now stage three began - marking out the seed and sapling beds and planting them up. We had ordered various types of seed, feeling that in this first season at least, it would be nice to have some that had a certified growth success rate, though from then on we would hopefully collect most of our seed. And so in early March we trooped down to the site and dug two seed beds. The idea was to get the soil to as close to a fine tilth as possible to enable maximum care for the seedlings. After the wet weather, the closest we could get to a fine tilth was golf ball sized globules of sticky, clayey soil. But the seeds had to go in, even if we could see the problems that this would cause us in the summer months. We dug a further three beds at this stage, planting over 200 one year old own grown Oak saplings in one, and a mixture of saplings in another - mainly Oak but including others such as Ash, Silver Birch and Hawthorn. In a fifth bed we planted several two year old saplings.
Even when the planting season was over, members of the group could not become idle. For the past eighteen months we had in our possession a quantity of Rootrainers which we had purchased and which members of the group continued to sell at each and every opportunity. Also continuing was the round of talks in schools and to groups such as the Scouts, to further the cause of the tree nursery and to enlist potential help for the future.
Spring came and so the saplings came into bud and the seeds began to sprout. And then the slugs struck! Luckily damage was kept to a minimum due to one or two 'organic’ anti-slug weapons. Initially it was not too hard to pick the odd weed out of the beds but then the odd weed became a multitude and the hot weather compounded the problem - picking out the weeds loosened the soil around the roots of our more preferred guests and accelerated the drying out process, endangering the seedlings' lives. The solution was to delay the weeding until the cooler, damper weather more typical of our summers. And as we waited the weeds thrived whilst the saplings and seedlings struggled to survive. When the rain eventually came the gradual weeding began again - a very time consuming task as in many cases the seedlings and saplings were barely visible amongst the vegetation. To date this task still continues.
As summer turns to autumn we can afford to reflect a little on our progress so far - we have established the tree nursery and we have had quite a successful first season, planting saplings and growing a quantity of Silver Birch and Rowan seedlings. Perhaps most importantly, we have learned valuable lessons in the propagation and care of seed and seedlings which should help make our next growing season even more successful.
Now however, the busiest time of the year is upon us again. More seed beds must be dug, saplings must be moved from one bed to another, more saplings must be introduced and more seed collected. We must remind people of our project and hopefully enlist their help in the work that needs doing. Above all, over the next year we must remind our¬selves of our original objective - to increase the number of native trees in the area. We must begin to identify potential planting sites and hopefully with the help of local landowners, industry, community groups and individ¬uals, we will begin to achieve our aim. They may be small beginnings but "from little acorns, mighty oaks may grow"!!
We wish to thank the Countryside Commission and the Yorkshire Bank PLC for their generous financial assistance which has enabled Littleborough Civic Trust to obtain reprographic equipment for the production of this newsletter and other printed items.
The Editor and staff wish to thank all those people who have contributed to this edition of the Newsletter with a special thanks to those who assemble and distribute the Newsletter.
Special acknowledgement also to Keith Parry who designed the Cover for use on LCT Newsletters in the mid 1970s.
Editor: Judith Schofield