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 1998-1999

CHAIRMAN: John Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043

SECRETARY: Iain Gerrard, 2 Pikehouse Cottages. Tel. 377829

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
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. Copy for the winter edition is required before the 5th December.



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Talking Points

Iain Gerrard reports on topics discussed at recent Committee meetings.

The appeal by Redrow Homes against the Council's decision to refuse them permission to develop land at Stubley Hall Road has un-happily succeeded. It was perhaps too much to expect under the current ‘rules of engagement‘ that the appeal failed, but at least Redrow do not appear to have triumphed completely. (See the article on ‘affordable homes’ in this newsletter).

And it continues....A new application for 22 dwellings on the Durn Mill site has been made. Of course, on its own, this will generate very little extra traffic.....won’t it?

The wind turbine application for Great Hill will be coming up for consideration very soon and the committee hope that all members who feel strongly about this development will have written to Rochdale MBC. There were only two responses to the letter sent to members in June, so it is presumed that you are all aware of the pros and cons and these do not need repeating here. However, you may not know that Todmorden Planning sub-committee has refused permission for the upgrading of Limers Gate path as an access route to both the Great Hill and Hoggs Head Hill sites and that Calderdale MBC has written to Rochdale and Rossendale Councils objecting to both developments.

The book, ‘The Story of Littleborough’ is practically complete and will have its official launch on Saturday the 27th of November at the Coach House, Littleborough. The book has not only dictated much of the Chairman‘s life over the last two or three years but has also exercised members of the committee for the last month or two arranging the launch ceremony.

On the evening of the book launch we intend to have on show various exhibitions with the connecting theme of Littleborough at the Millennium; one of these will be by the Littleborough Historical and Archæological Society containing material not used in the book, another will be by the Rochdale Canal Society, a third by Local artist Geoff Butterworth who painted the scene shown on the cover of the book and, finally, archive film footage of Littleborough, thought to have been seen only once before, some thirty years ago. Both Lord Barnett, our patron and the Mayor of Rochdale have accepted invitations to attend the evening. Regrettably, due to a shortage of space, the event can only be attended by invitation and these must cover the dozens of Patrons and Sponsors who have contributed considerable financial support to the production. Of course, if anyone really would like to attend the ‘do’, there's still just enough time to become a sponsor!

After some time without one, Rochdale MBC has appointed a new Conservation Officer, Tanya Hindle, who was happy to attend a recent committee meeting, at out invitation, to explain her understanding of her role and how we might work together for our mutual benefit. She explained in some detail the work she saw ahead for herself and, as briefly as l can, here are the main features:

Due to time lost since an officer was last in her position, the listed buildings details need updating and reviewing, while still dealing with all new applications. She would be advising her colleagues on grant bids and be involved in the bidding for grants, certain ones of which Littleborough may be eligible for. A review of the Borough’s 12 Conservation Areas which could include an extension of the one in Littleborough and/or a new one in the Ealees area. She would be developing a local, non-statutory list of listed buildings and would also want to consider the development of local themes (e.g. flagstone walls). Much of what she hoped to achieve in the longer term came down to funding by Rochdale MBC, whether it was to protect buildings, pursue policies or match grants offered with similar amounts of money and at present Rochdale MBC has none. We sincerely wish her well.

A mention was made by a Committee Member of the insensitivity of the Highway Engineers regarding the plethora of ‘improvements’ to Halifax Road. This was outside the remit of Tanya Hindle but the matter needed airing anyhow. The totally inappropriate ‘police camera’ sign at the top of Blackstone Edge, a good mile before any significant habitation was one item, the ‘over the top‘ 40 and 30 m.p.h. repeater signs and the cartoon blobs of colour marring the natural colours of the scenery were others. And we are welcomed to Hollingworth Lake, not Littleborough! There is a Littleborough boundary sign just before the White House, but it is considerably over-awed by the aforementioned police sign. Safety concerns on the road notwithstanding, there are more suitable ways of dealing with them and perhaps we should be approaching the Authority with suggestions. Do you have any?


Stop Press!

We have just heard that the Millennium Festival 'Awards for All' Committee have offered the Trust a grant of £2182 from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the production of documentation for ‘the Story of Littleborough'. This is another important step on the road to covering our production costs (see page 10).

‘Affordable Homes’ issue hits Littleborough!

Although the recent controversial housing application off Stubley Mill Road was eventually approved, conditions were attached, as Don Pickis reports.

An Inspector's report on a recently approved Littleborough housing development of 144 houses west of Stubley Mill Road highlights government concern that affordable housing should form part of residential schemes. Among the reserved planning matters to be made conditional on the development is a requirement for an element of affordable housing, the extent and nature of which shall be submitted to and agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority prior to the commencement of any development.

Other conditions set out require the provision of on-site recreational space, the retention of a 15 metre wide undeveloped corridor along the River Roch and the retention of an existing pond or the creation of an alternative habitat into which elements of the existing pond can be translocated.

Cartoon: Double decker bus in flood water

Measures to counter and control pollution are also to be part of the approval process for reserved matters. Site investigations to determine whether or not the area is contaminated are to be carried out prior to development, measures to prevent the pollution of ground and surface water including provision for monitoring must also be agreed with the Planning Authority. A noise survey must be carried out to assess the impact of railway and other noise so that the design, layout and insulation of properties will ensure that sound levels are graduated from the lowest level for ventilated bedrooms to higher levels for living rooms and again for private rear gardens in turn. A spine road within the development site is to be of a minimum standard for buses as laid down in a scheme published by the former Greater Manchester Authority and none of the development permitted shall be first occupied until a scheme for the improvement of the junction of Stubley Mill Road with Featherstall Road has been fully implemented.

Other conditions placed on the development relate to raising the site so that finished floor levels are 2 ft. above the highest flood level predicted and the improvement of the public footpath which crosses the site and the providing of an emergency access between the development and Spenwood Road.


An Edwardian Childhood in Syke

Allen Holt relates a few of his Mother's anecdotes that show how times have changed.

When an older person dies they often take a wealth of local knowledge with them. Some of it acquired subjectively, but mostly it was learned by rote, aided by a conscious perception of what was going on around them. l firmly believe the elderly should be encouraged to leave a tangible record of their knowledge before departing. This could be a diary, book, photograph album with captions, audio tape, or even a video.

To that end, I persuaded my Mother (born 1897) to make a tape recording of her early life at the turn of the century. On it she relates what it was really like to be the eldest daughter of a large family ‘living on the edge of the moor‘. By present day standards it was an unbelievably hard life.

Photograph: outside privy

The family of fourteen lived in a stone built cottage facing Syke Ponds. It had no bathroom, no cooker, one cold water tap and an outside tub lavatory. The downstairs rooms were lit by oil lamps, the bedrooms by candlelight, the only heating was a large open fireplace, upon which all the food was cooked. Baking was carried out in a side oven, heated by drawing the fire under it, a cast iron water boiler was heated in like manner.

To feed so large a family, food was bought in prodigious quantities, it was carried home on a four-wheeled bogie, or by sledge when it snowed. Being the eldest girl my mother did all the shopping, with one of her brothers in attendance as the work-horse to haul the provisions home. The father was a baker by trade, the mother a competent cook of the old school who could make a meal out of almost anything, consequently all the children were well-nourished. Despite the hard life my Mother was adamant in the assertion that her childhood had been happy, healthy, and carefree. Just how hard it was can be gleaned from the following anecdote.

My Mother attended All Saints Day School, which was at the end of Red Lane, Hamer. She was allowed out of class 15 minutes before the last lesson finished at lunch time. This gave her sufficient time, just, to walk home and collect her eldest brother's midday meal. It was in a basin, piping hot, wrapped in a red and black spotted handkerchief. This she delivered to his place of work at Healey. She then walked back home across the fields for a bite to eat. Arriving back at school as the bell rang - a round trip of 2.5 miles. She did this whatever the weather, Monday to Friday, they don't make ‘em like that anymore!

I’ll end this evocation of a bygone childhood in happier vein. Sometimes my Mother was given 6d (2.5p) and instructed to buy four fried fish on her way home from school. This she did from a fried fish and chip shop at the top end of Bond Street. Proprietors of Fish and Chip shops take note!

When she died in 1985, in her 89th year, I made several copies of the tape recording. So, in effect, Emma Holt, nee Stott, is still with us, albeit in an oral time warp.


Annual Subscriptions

Cartoon: Purse with words 'Almost Broke'

Two things to report on this front from Jill Roberts, our Membership Secretary and Peter Jackson, our Treasurer.

Firstly, there are still one or two people who haven't renewed their membership of the Trust for 1999. If you're aware that this applies to you, our Membership Secretary would love to hear from you.

Secondly, the Trust's membership fees have remained the same for a number of years. Since interest rates are lower now, we are earning less on our reserves and other organisations to which we are affiliated continue to increase their fees, we felt that the new Millennium was time for a change. Whilst we do also intend to hold a number of fund raising events during the year (which will be advertised in the newsletter), we agreed at our July Committee meeting to

i) Raise the annual subscription for an individual from £2.50 to £3.00

ii) Raise the couple/family rate from £4 to £5

The intention of these rises is not to make money, but to ‘keep an even keel’. We hope you share the Committee's view that these rates are in line with those of similar organisations and are necessary to maintain the Trust's level of activity.

The renewal form on the inside rear cover of the newsletter will be amended in the December 1999 issue to reflect the subscription increases. Thank you all for your continuing support.


Littleborough In Crisis

Iain Gerrard gives a personal view on the outcome for the town of current decision making processes.

The failure of the local Council (Rochdale) to carry out the wishes of the local people is a matter for serious concern. The inability to address the encroachment of unwanted strangers into the area on a scale which is destroying the very essence of ‘community’ is staggering. At least Nero reputedly fiddled while Rome burned; our representatives seem to be sitting on their hands. This is a problem which is happening elsewhere, in various parts on the country, but that doesn't make it any more bearable here or mean that we should not be attempting to do something about it.

Much is made of the NIMBY factor when arguments occur on developments not desired by people already living in an area. A NIMBY, for those who have never heard the term, stands for ‘Not in My Backyard‘ and is intended to infer that, if you are one, you're happy to see ‘necessary’ developments go ahead as long as they don't disturb you or your way of life, etc. I'm a NIMBY, but not exactly one such as l have just described. I would not deny the need and inevitability of change, no place stands still and indeed it is unhealthy to do so, but it does worry me that there appears to be no real control over developments and their long term effects. The wishes of locals, to see their town develop along lines they feel are acceptable and that have a steady direction towards their goals are ignored or crushed under the present rigid, out of date and unrepresentative rules of town planning or the myopic intrusions of the national government ‘guidelines’.

The case of the recent debacle over the Stubley development is a case in point (there are as you will know, many more). This was a proposed development that under the present rules and guidelines was difficult to refuse. Attempts were made, by your local councillors, to find reasons for refusal within the ‘rules’, primarily that the extra traffic generated would worsen an already poor situation. What wasn't acceptable within the argument was ‘we do not want it!’ or ‘we feel we are drowning in an unstoppable tide of strangers‘ or we like the open space that is there now’ or where is the benefit to our town?. Very emotive protests for sure, but not very practical in the face of the ‘facts' as laid out in the rules and definitely out of bounds for people who like things in black and white. Much condemnation has been levelled at ‘our’ councillors for their stand and that they were wrong to take it; indeed they were on a hiding to nothing! But were they wrong to take it? Yes (see above) and no (see below).

The Pennine Township took what appeared to be a very positive step a couple of years ago, organised by our own Township Manager. This was the community consultation exercise on regenerating Littleborough (and the other Pennine Township towns) to which representatives of all the local groups were invited. Since that time much paper has been generated but little else. Officers have decided what was and what was not practical without reference back to the community. Reports produced by Rochdale MBC have given little credence to views expressed at that meeting, the main one, relative to this article, being the desire to see new businesses rather than more housing in the area.

The problems involved in overcoming the present situation are undoubtedly great, but not insurmountable. Nothing is more certain than the fact that if nothing is done then nothing will be gained.

It would seem to me that the need is for the local councillors, our representatives, to get together and decide upon a suitable approach to the government to argue the case for more local autonomy; less intrusive ‘guidelines’ and instructions from on high to organise or allow developments which, while of possible benefit to the country as a whole may be totally at odds hereabouts; less dictatorial rules within the town planning structure allowing local rules to apply and yes, giving the NlMBY’s more say in what goes on in their own locality! Come to think of it, after the apparent unpleasantness of feeling between councillors, shown recently in the local paper, it could be a big step in itself just to get them to talk sensibly together!

There really are too many people on this lovely island of ours to continue with the present free-for-all which is destroying the very things people most value; a sense of community, interesting differences between communities, land which has an amenity value that is priceless (though maybe not to the owner), room to breathe. If we are not extremely diligent it isn't too far fetched to see a conurbation from Land‘s End to John 0’ Groats eventually coming about; boring won't be the word.


The Story of Littleborough

A letter to all members of Littleborough Civic Trust

The period for the creation of the book is over. l am delighted to announce that we will publish the paperback (at £11) and the hardback (at £15) in October this year including some of the contents in colour. l must thank all members who bought copies of the hardback in advance, along with the excellent response from Patrons, Sponsors and the Community generally, which has allowed us to proceed. However we still have a significant amount of money to raise after the book launch to meet all our responsibilities.

Civic Trust members can once again give us invaluable help. When the books are available there will be another peak of buying as presents and in commemoration of the Millennium. We will be selling copies through various commercial outlets but that means our Trust receives a reduced sum of money per book to help pay off our debt.

From now until the end of November, I am therefore asking every member of the Civic Trust to explain this situation to their family and friends, emphasising that an order placed through us will mean every penny will go to the reduction of the outstanding printing cost.

You have seen that the order form is straightforward and one is enclosed for both versions of the book. More copies can be obtained by contacting any member of the committee (see inner cover of the newsletter), or by going to George Kelsall’s shop or the office of Molesworth Bright Clegg Solicitors at 66 Church Street, Littleborough. To encourage these pre-publication sales we are happy to accept orders for the paperback at £10 and the hardback (not the special edition) at £15. There are fewer than 50 copies of the hardback left for sale.

By following this procedure, we will take another step towards meeting our financial responsibilities in total, in the shortest possible time; at which point the members of the publishing committee can also enjoy a HAPPY MILLENNIUM.

May I remind you that no money has been paid to any individual or to your society for helping with this book; any surplus will go to local charities. The whole operation was designed to give real pleasure to the people of Littleborough and a worthy memento of the year 2000 at a price we can all afford.

John Street
Chairman, Littleborough Civic Trust


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Editor: Chris Wilkinson