Photograph: Autumnal scene in Lydgate Clough

Littleborough Civic Trust is a voluntary body affiliated to the national Civic Trust. It was established in 1971 and exists to conserve and enhance the environment of Littleborough.
Its committee and officers are elected at an Annual General Meeting in April, although new members are always welcome.

Committee Members 1998-99

CHAIRMAN: John Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043

SECRETARY: The post is currently vacant

TREASURER: Peter Jackson, 8 Chelburn View, Littleborough. Tel. 373112

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY: Jill Roberts, 34 Brown Street, Littleborough. Tel. 375426

MINUTES SECRETARY: Chris Wilkinson, 3, Fair View, Littleborough. 374020

NEWSLETTER EDITOR: Chris Wilkinson, as above

Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 01422 885173
Don Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Anne Lawson, 81 Todmorden Road. Tel.379604.
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. Tel. 344711
Iain Gerrard, 2 Pikehouse Cottages.
Barbara Daveron, 38 James Street. Tel. 378664

The Newsletter is produced four times a year. The views expressed in it do not necessarily reflect the views of the Trust. Contributions are welcome and should be sent to the Editor who thanks contributors to this edition and invites articles for the next by the 1st December.



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Welcome to the Autumn 1998 edition of the Littleborough Civic Trust Newsletter. You may notice a ‘new look‘ emerging for the newsletter over the next few editions, which is due to you having a new editor with a different word processor. I am still learning how to use the technology and what to do with it, so please let me know which of the changes you do and don't like (in this and future editions). Before going any further, thanks are due to Joanne for producing the last few editions of the newsletter and I'm sure we would all wish her well on her horticulture course at Myerscough College.

So, what of the live issues in Littleborough this autumn? Well, most of us will have received the mailshot from ‘Renewable Energy Systems Ltd asking whether we are in favour of a wind farm on Great Hill. Most (but not all) members of the Trust are against the idea and several have been involved in the meetings organised by the ‘Friends of Great Hill‘.

Engineering work continues to disrupt services on the railway. Are we pleased to see this investment in works to improve safety and comfort or are we annoyed by the inconvenience it causes ? Rae has some views on the subject later on.

Houses have started to appear on the old Tannery site next to the railway. We wonder whether the Council, in allowing this development, thinks that

a) it is of a design sympathetic to Littleborough's character (see also my report on Countryside Design Statements)

b) there will be local school places available for the children who will live there

c) it will not increase congestion on the A58

The Trust believes that the site should have been kept for employment - generating uses so that Littleborough continues to be a working town and not a commuter suburb.



I have been ‘booked’

John Street describes his involvement in the writing of a history of Littleborough

Drawing: writing implements

‘You are booked‘ is the sort of thing you connect with the police or traffic wardens, albeit on television rather than in real life. However, in some sense I was booked by my own wilful act, which was to wonder if there really was a function for a Vice Chairman in the Civic Trust. My first 27 years in Littleborough had included so much work and travel that I frequently felt like a tripper coming in for rest and revival. Retirement became synonymous with living here most of each week, with the possibility of participating in local things and has been, overall, a lot of fun.

Early on, George Kelsall suggested I help with the completion of the ‘Walks in Littleborough' book and this coincided with so many of my notional ‘skills’ including experience of the great outdoors, mapping and computers, that it was a pleasure and by the time I had walked every walk twice and all the bits in between and then drawn all the maps, if I didn't really compare with our regular lifetime walkers in the area, at least a start in ‘knowing' Littleborough had been made. Reverting to type, not to say my previous work, the rest of the Civic Trust committee seemed happy to let my contribution be in project work - probably because I had zero feel for how the social world in the town worked I Again the pleasures of clearing up heaps of waste, or opening up a blocked path or river bed get you out of doors and seem immediately helpful. Other projects were more difficult, working with our Authority is a vital part of what the Society does but there is much to learn about the magic triangle made up of Officers, Councillors and a voluntary society. But it can be done and as a society we have, I believe, an honourable and successful history, which we like to date from the time when Fred Jackson in 1919 was made the first secretary of the Beautiful Littleborough Society under the patronage of Gordon and Ernest Harvey. One of my own best experiences of a combined project was when we got all elements going in one direction and got a notice up saying ‘Welcome to Littleborough' outside the station.

But I digress... back to the day when I volunteered to be ‘booked’, or, put more sensibly, proposed we should pick up the work of Fred Jackson who wrote many articles, mainly for the Beautiful Littleborough Society. Just before his death he had the articles bound and copies made, with the title ‘Snapshots of History of Littleborough'. The Authority entrusted me with the oldest copy of this material and within the framework of Littleborough Civic Trust we started to pull together a group who could hope to produce a handsome hard backed book in time for the Millennium. The name and the content of the book have changed from the first intentions and today the title may simply be ‘The Story of Littleborough‘. ln small type it may say ‘from 200,000 BC to 2000 AD‘. Two and a half years following my walking all over the old Littleborough UDC for the walking book I have been drowned, or nearly, in every aspect of what is written about Littleborough, what photographs have been taken, what drawings done, the families, the houses, the work, the leisure... For an incomer it would be a farcical objective to try to collect and collate all this without help and tolerance from all the people who have been part of the history. The help includes an Editorial Committee combining the skills needed, a proof reading group of seven and beyond everything else the ever increasing input from the people who live here or have lived here. The contributor list passed the 100 mark about three months ago and one of the mistakes we made was not to computerise from the beginning in a way that would have allowed us to communicate with them easily and record all the knowledge they have given. Hindsight is all too easy, we just didn't know where we were going and whilst there were warnings about what it might involve, if you really believe them you may never start.

We still do not have a book. Briefly we have a draft of 21 chapters of which 17 take the story up to the end of the 19th Century. Most chapters will need local maps and many are prepared. Even for life-long residents, many of the names used in previous centuries have fallen into disuse and few realise how recent the roads are that we now use. (We can keep the door open for further material up to the end of 1998). ln addition, to indicate where and what can be seen in our area needs many diagrams, photographs old and new and although the average story doesn't need an index, this is a 'true‘ story not fiction and as such we are providing an index of some 20-30 entries to each chapter to allow reference throughout the book to some specific topic such as our part in the textile industry, or old houses (pre 1850) etc. Then there are the commercial issues of paying for publication, arranging the printing and distribution, soliciting sponsorship at various levels from Patrons to individual subscribers. And finally, that very modern problem of making sensible use of computers and related technology to get all these things achieved in a rapidly reducing time frame. We are still under control but perhaps you see why I feel ‘booked’. The last thought is the many homes I have been invited into, given a cup of tea and something to eat and then shared in the life of the people, their memories and their records. I may yet become at least an honorary Littleborough Citizen.


A Winter's Tale?

Is there anyone out there?! Anyone with a Christmas Tale? If so, let's have them for inclusion in the Winter edition of our newsletter.

They may be real life (a ruined Christmas Pud), anecdotes, fact or fiction, puzzles, poems, etc.

Send your offerings, via any member of the committee to the Editor before the end of November and if his typing gets any quicker we can have a bumper edition.

Peter Jackson


Littleborough and its Railway

Rae Street encourages us to fight for a better rail service

It has been really encouraging this summer to see the improvements at Littleborough Station. Newer members wouldn't be aware but it was often the persistence of the Civic Trust, together with other people in the valley, which managed to preserve not only our station, but our line. Certainly it was the Trust which pushed hard for the buildings on the Leeds side to be included in the Conservation Area which they now are. Many of us remember too the persistence of one of our early stalwart members, Marjorie Haigh (small of stature) in getting wooden steps so she could get on the train without gymnastics. She would be very pleased, as are all the regular travellers with the raising of the platform.

But we still have a long way to go to make rail travel more attractive. Just at the moment I feel most travellers choose rail despite, not because of the service. The reliability of the trains has been dire over the past year. Trains are so often late it's a surprise when they are on time. Sometimes the scheduled train doesn't come at all. A variety of excuses is given. Sheep on the line makes everyone laugh. No available drivers makes everyone fume.

And there are of course station improvements which would make travelling more comfortable. The ‘bus shelter‘ on the Manchester platform is totally inadequate. For a start it only has four seats and will only hold about ten people standing. Is that realistically the number of people the company expect to travel? Nor is it weatherproof. Even if the window was mended, Railtrack seem unaware of what every Littleborough resident knows: rain in the Pennines comes horizontally. A town just along the line has carpeted waiting rooms with an interesting photographic exhibition, not to mention a friendly cafe.

Let’s keep struggling for a better rail service. Do write to complain about services, for better facilities - let us know if you have some good ideas. One recent idea (put to me by a weary commuter who had decided to change her job partly because of the poor service) was for a public ‘phone box right outside the station. Members should also know that on the Rochdale Unitary Development Plan, four new stations were proposed. There was to be a new one at Summit. Let's press for the implementation of the plan. The re-opening of Smithy Bridge Station was a great success - others could be too. Railways can play their part in improving the environment, particularly in reducing car use. We need to fight for a better service.


A ‘Countryside Design Statement‘ for the South Pennines

Chris Wilkinson reports on a new initiative to protect the character of the South Pennines

When we think about what makes National Parks such as the Lake District or The Yorkshire Dales special, we realise that it's not just the countryside, but the buildings as well - and how the two fit together, be it quaint villages or farm and estate buildings. To avoid spoiling this character, planning controls in National Parks are generally very tight; limiting new development, putting it in the right place and making sure that traditional construction materials are used.

Outside the National Parks a number of people are concerned that their own local areas also have a character which is being lost in new developments of a style which could be found anywhere. ln response to this, Government 'quangos', the Countryside Commission, English Nature and English Heritage have, over the last year or two, been busy dividing the country up into constituent parts which can be said to have their own distinctive character. One such area they have identified is called the South Pennine Character Area, which stretches from the Dales in the North to the Peak District in the south and from Chorley in the west to Leeds in the east. The draft boundary cuts through Littleborough.

Strangely enough, the ‘Character Area‘ boundary coincides generally with the combined boundaries of two existing conservation projects, the West Pennine Moors Management Project and the Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities‘ Heritage Area. The latter organisation applied for and has been awarded lottery money to employ consultants to define the area's character and set guidelines for new development so that it is carried out in a sympathetic way. This will be set out in a document called a ‘Countryside Design Statement‘, a draft of which is due out soon.

Members of the Civic Trust have, through the South Pennines Association, been actively encouraging local Councils to go down this road and will no doubt make sure that Councils implement the design guidance contained in the ‘Statement'. Watch this space!


Local Shops

Rae Street says ‘shop local!'

Time was, some 90 years ago, when Littleborough boasted a wonderful diversity of shops*. You could buy everything here from ‘smart millinery‘ and 'veilings' from Miss Rigg to a ‘palatable emulsion of cod liver oil‘ from the pharmacist or pianos from a shop on Todmorden Road. A wide variety of food was on sale from tripe, camp coffee, to homemade marmalade (‘which is delicious‘) at the greengrocers. The latter must have been good with the homemade bread which was 'pure'! Services were good; you could have your umbrella covered or your boots mended. You could even engage a ‘scenic artist‘. Some of these businesses are still here to this day. More importantly, we still have shops where you can browse, chat, ask for advice and feel at home.

Photograph of book cover for Floral Bazaar

We've had a lot of visitors this summer, both from other parts of Britain and from abroad. Without exception they loved Littleborough, if not the weather. One of the things which was often commented on was, ‘You've still got real shops. They're so friendly and helpful.‘ But the shops can only survive if we support them. Enjoy them!

And tell people from out of town if it's parking they're worried about, that it's easy to park in Littleborough; there are always spaces in the station area and it's no distance then to the main shopping area in Church Street and Hare Hill Road.


*Many thanks to George Kelsall, bookseller; for the loan of the booklet, 'Grand Floral Bazaar’, where I gleaned this information. The bazaar lasted 3 days no less, to help raise £1,500 for the extension of the Parish Church School Buildings.

Website editor's note: I took the liberty of putting this image here where it seemed to have some relevance, instead of the Winter edition where it originally appeared.


Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group


Autumn 1998 Walks Programme


Sunday 11th October - Meet at Norden Centre at 2.00pm.
Leader: Betty Taylor
Millcroft Circular

4.5 miles

Sunday 25th October - Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30 pm or Lobb Mill at 1.45 pm.
Leader: Kevin Kiernan
Cross Stones

5 miles

Sunday 8th November - Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30 pm Cars to Withens Clough car park.
Leader: Harry Radcliffe
Stoodley Pike Circular

4.5 miles

Sunday 22nd November - Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.30pm or 1.45 p.m. at Ogden Leader: Michael Farrell
Ogden Reservoir Circular

5 miles

Sunday 6th December - Meet at Law Flat, Wardle at 1.45 pm.
Leader: Geoff Sutcliffe
Syke, Healey and Rydings

4.5 miles

Sunday 20th December - Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.45 pm.
Leader: Harry Radcliffe
Local walk

4 miles

Sunday 3rd January - Meet at Littleborough Square at 1.45 pm
Leader: Joe Taylor
Local Walk

4.5 miles


Membership Registration Form



Editor: Chris Wilkinson