Sue Day and Queenie the Towing Horse

Sue Day and Queenie the towing horse at the Canal opening ceremony. They pulled the first horse-drawn boat to make the journey over both the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Rochdale Canal in over 50 years.

Photograph: Russell Johnson


Talking Points


Iain Gerrard reports on topics discussed at Committee Meetings and other relevant issues.

Rochdale Canal

Picture: Fred Dibnah

Fred Dibnah at the opening ceremony

Photograph: Iain Gerrard

The opening of the Rochdale Canal on the 1st of July was an event not to be missed and from the number of people who turned up, despite quite lousy weather, it wasn't missed by many! The occasion recognised the first day for many years when a boat could literally sail the entire length of the canal from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester without hindrance. Hundreds of people turned up to witness the opening ceremony, performed by Fred Dibnah, underneath the Ben Healey Bridge at Hollingworth Road. So many in fact that the road was almost impassable to traffic and perhaps with hindsight the Local Authority, who organised the event, might have been advised to close the road for a couple of hours. That aspect however, annoying though it must have been to those attempting to get to work, was of little interest to the crowd which was already putting up with a considerable amount of rain with cheery nonchalance.

Neither the Littleborough Action Group, the Littleborough Historical & Archaeological Society nor ourselves received an official invitation to the event until Rochdale was gently reminded that we had all contributed far more to the idea of the canal being refurbished than any of the 'dignitaries' who had been invited.

Since this date the number of boats which have travelled through Littleborough has been of the order of four to eight per day. This is a good start to what should be a revitalising aspect of Littleborough as a centre for tourism. They not only bring direct economic benefit to the town by stopping and purchasing facilities and goods but indirectly also from the number of people who come to look at their passage.

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Transport Proposals

The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive published plans a year of two ago showing its proposals for a future integrated transport policy. This meant, among other things that when you caught a bus to the railway station it arrived in time for you to catch your train and you purchased your ticket for the full journey when you boarded the bus. All good ideas!

Northeastern hills from Hollingworth Road

Northeastern hills from Hollingworth Road

Photograph: Iain Gerrard

Some concern was recently expressed by some of our members, particularly those involved with the Town Design Statement, at the effect which some other proposals would have on the town. One idea put forward in the G.M.P.T.E.'s plan was to have dedicated bus lanes along the A58 from Rochdale to Littleborough. This idea might seem to be reasonable until the practicalities of carrying it out were considered.

The existing roadway is technically only a three or four lane width. This is reduced for significant lengths to two-lane width by the parking of vehicles. So where were the dedicated lanes to go? The fear was that many existing houses and buildings would be considered for demolition to achieve this goal in order to widen the road. This goes against the very basis of the TDS and our concern to preserve the heritage and community spirit of the town. It shows a complete lack of understanding by those who contemplate 'solutions' to our traffic and transport problems whereby the town is made to conform to emerging traffic needs rather than expecting the solutions take into account the town and make the traffic and transport fit in with this.

However it transpires that the modifications will probably be confined to improving bus shelters and arranging priority for buses at traffic lights for the forseeable future. Common sense? I suspect it is more a lack of available funding, but then I'm a cynic.

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Footpaths

We recently wrote to the Authority asking about the condition of the bridge on the footpath (Coronation Walk) between Todmorden Road and Greenvale Mills. Of wooden construction it has of late been looking decidedly sad, if not hazardous, and was in imminent danger of losing its handrails into the River Roch. We have had a reply from the Footpaths Officer assuring us of the intention to have it repaired and the footpath cleared of the many weeds presently clogging it under the Access Programme. I confess I hadn't heard of this programme and know little about it, but if it succeeds in doing as promised then more power to it.

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Planning applications

We have been responding to these as appropriate as usual during the last three months. While not mentioning any one application individually here, it is becoming depressingly apparent how little concern is given by applicants, whether they be individuals or architects, for the need to maintain an integrity of design which is redolent of the area. This is not to say that no materials other than stone and blue slate should be allowed or that local detailing of stonework, window shapes and such like are the only ones to be considered suitable. But in the absence of any other architectural attributes they are extremely important. Too many people either ignore what is already in existence around a proposed site or feel that their own ideas are more important than any other consideration. It's a difficult problem to achieve continuity and conformity without stifling innovation, but we do our best.

Rock Nook from Halifax Road

Stone fits the locality

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

Some people have pointed out that many existing, and quite old properties locally are in Accrington red brick so why can't new buildings also be in this material. It was the case that around the turn of the last century it was considered to be an advance to have materials such as this used in preference to stone; stone being considered perhaps 'old-fashioned' or even evidence of being poor. There can however be few that feel that it is a more attractive material than stone with the hindsight of a further hundred years. Perceptions and opinions do change.

On a practical point it should be noted that, while the bricklayers of a hundred years ago built their walls with 'penny' joints (about 3mm. thick) which allowed little in the way of water penetration, present standards are much different. The usual thickness of mortar joints is now 10mm. Guess which is the weakest part of a brick wall for water penetration! Of course the joints in stone walls are less even and also thicker but there are less of them! There is also the choice of cement mortar which is used almost exclusively these days. It is a hard and unyielding substitute for a decent lime mortar, the latter having the extra attribute of being somewhat self-repairing. I know which I prefer.

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Website

I have to confess that I was amazed (but delighted) to receive a reply to my appeal in the last newsletter for someone to run our website. When I normally appeal for replies from the membership on this or that the silence is deafening!

We now have a member, Teresa Paskiewicz who has happily taken over from Chris Wilkinson. The site has the same address and we would recommend you visit it and comment on it. Any ideas for future additions or alterations to it would be welcome. (I await another deafening silence!)

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Town Design Statement

Much of the work 'gathering' information together is now approaching completion. It is intended that this will be presented to the population of Littleborough at a second evening's presentation (see elsewhere in the newsletter) similar in format to that which was held so successfully last May.

This will in effect represent the draft findings and feelings of those who have so far been involved, but it will be open to comment, objection and change where people feel strongly enough about some facet or other of the material. It is to everyone's advantage to come along and see what has been done so far and if you missed the day in May here's your second chance to get your free glass of wine and buffet meal!

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Tree planting

You may recall me saying that we have had an extremely favourable reply from Fothergill's regarding planting of trees alongside their cricket field and also around their football field. It is our intention to begin this November with some replacements to the ageing poplars and go from there. BCTV have offered to help with the muscle-power and the local authority, in the form of the Hollingworth Lake Country Park Wardens, are enabling us to purchase some semi-mature trees at reasonable prices. Should you be interested in helping on the day(s) there will always be room for more muscle. Please contact either myself or Rae Street for details of the planting dates.

The residents of Hollingworth Park will be planting further trees at their site; these will also be supplied by the local authority.

The failure of the new tree, supplied and planted by the local authority last year, to survive the idiots who frequent Lodge Street has led us to look for an alternative site. We have asked Arriva Trains if they will agree to us planting a similarly semi-mature tree at the entrance to the Station Car Park. We felt it might stand a little better chance there due to the open position. Then again……!

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North West Association of Civic Trust Societies

I attended the first meeting of this association in August. Inevitably some of the meeting was taken up with consideration of how it was to be funded. An initial (supposedly one-off) payment from the national Civic Trust of £500 has been practically used up. It was decided after some discussion that the national Civic Trust, which wanted these regional set-ups and had promoted their inception, should be asked to fund the general running budget of each area rather than expect them to spend time and energy looking around and approaching sponsors or the like.

Contact is being made with a number of other regional bodies and we are currently represented on Forum North West, Market Towns Forum and North West Transport Activists' Roundtable. We have been invited to join North West Environment Link and are seeking nomination to English Heritage, C. A. B. E. and the North West Development Agency.

Sounds boring doesn't it? But you have to create a decent base before you can build so watch this space!

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My Home is Littleborough

‘Home is where the heart is’, the saying goes, well that is true of me. When I was a mere slip of a lad in the early fifties, I used to stand on Ashton Old Road in Higher Openshaw, Manchester and ask my mother ‘what are those hills up at the back of Ashton? Her reply was always the same ‘those are the pennines love’, ‘Oh’ I’d reply. In 1953 my dad was made redundant from H. Wallworks engineering works at Red Bank near Victoria station. He eventually found a position working for Fothergill and Harvey’s offices on Peter Street, Manchester. 18 months (Christmas 1954) he was faced with the same scenario as the company was moving the offices to their mills, but this time he had an option, they offered accommodation to any employee willing to ‘up sticks’ and move with them. After consulting the family and not wanting to be back on the dole he agreed to move with several others who took up Fothergill’s offer.

Royal Oak public house

My home town...

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

In January 1955 aged 8 I made my first visit to Littleborough to view the accommodation that they had selected for our 6 family members, Sladen Wood House. This was heaven after the 2 up, 2 down house with the outside privy in Manchester. Satisfied with the house we were then given a tour of Littleborough and the area, then we went home. The following August saw us move to Littleborough.

As children do, I soon settled in (having a bedroom to myself, I was lord of the manor) and made some friends. I started at the Central School in the September and that was it, we were here. I often look back at life in Manchester and wonder where I’d be today and what I’d be doing, I’m sure it would be totally different but it’s not good to dwell too long on the past, it is today that matters and I can gladly say I wouldn’t change a thing. I have a wonderful family and friends and I love Littleborough and the surrounding area. Realisation can take many forms, for me it was 1985 when I’d had the heart attack that life seemed to precious and all the trivial things in life were put in perspective.

I joined the Civic Trust in 1992 when I had to retire on ill health and since then Littleborough has taken on a new light for me, I now realise how fortunate I have been to come to live in ‘those hills behind Ashton’. Forty seven years have elapsed since I moved here and I wouldn’t change my way of life now for what might have been in Manchester.

Peter Jackson

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Ragwort (Senecio jacobea)

Line drawing of Ragwort

Ragwort

According to Richard Mabey in his Flora Britannica, this common weed is also known as St James Wort, Staggerwort, Yellow Tops, Stinking Willie and Mare's Fart. The latter name clearly coming from none-of-your-fancy-language farmers and horse owners who hated ragwort because when eaten by horses and cattle it is extremely poisonous. Even though it is an attractive plant, all the names suggest that it has always been held in disfavour.

Curiously it is the national flower in the Isle of Man.

Apparently however sheep can eat it without ill effects and that means areas where sheep graze will be free of the weed. Ragwort is now classed as an "injurious weed" and owners must treat land contaminated by it. Any failure to do so can be reported to the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs for them to take action.

There are other 'ragworts', the most well known being Oxford ragwort which is smaller and more compact than the common variety. The Oxford variety has the amusing Latin name of 'senecio squalidus', again hardly sounding like a loved local plant!

The common ragwort is apparently spreading and certainly it seems to have done recently across Littleborough. Look at any waste places and you are sure to see some. This includes those areas of 'garden' alongside the grassy stretches near the road - those small areas which have been neglected, mainly because our township gardeners are too few and they do not have enough time.

You can help everyone by pulling out ragwort and destroying it wherever you come across it. We do not yet print in colour, but you should be able to recognise it as having several, daisy-like, bright yellow flowers branching out at the top of the stem. It is usually 30-100 cm high and the leaves are jagged. I wondered about the name. 'Wort' is plant, but 'rag'? Common? The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) comes up with the fairly obvious reason that it is a reference to the shape of the 'raggy' leaves.

 

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A Town Design Statement or TDS

Which could stand for Try, Despair then Succeed!

It is close to 2 years since the TDS project really got started as our new Millenium Project. For those who do not keep back copies of our news letters the whole concept grew out of the destruction of the English village in the 1980’s and a Government initiative to try to halt that trend which some five years later lead to a very successful outcome with the increasing use of the (then) Village Design Statement, which was a real success. It had the direct aim of giving the people living in any community (initially villages) a real say about what development they could welcome, what they valued in their own locality and how they would like to steer the change in their own area in the years ahead. The Secretary of State gave them the TDS as the vehicle and then threw the weight of the Local Authority planning department (or its equivalent) behind the legislation by giving them the power to use the TDS results (when accepted) backed by significant legal substance in any local situation of dispute, or proposed development, within its boundaries.

A TDS group meeting

A typical group meeting - held in congenial surroundings!

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

The idea caught on, was seen to work in a practical world and the adventurous, not to say some with less than noble motives, started to see if it would fit larger units and more sophisticated situations than those outlined in the initial initiatives to help the traditional village. Your committee saw the possibility of using it to the benefit both of Rochdale and Littleborough and commenced to look for significant financial backing to allow us to implement a Littleborough Town Design Statement. We found a mix of proposals which were accepted had a number of very innovative aspects - in how we must do it (Community Participation) and what must be done (a strong accent on Heritage).

With money and a plan what is there to fear? The answer is that doing it will be different, in some ways new. Well we ,went back to school to learn a bit and then went out to Littleborough with a mass mailing. Doing such things on a voluntary basis is certainly non trivial and the officers and core of the Civic Trust Team deserve a cheer for the enormous efforts they made. And it worked; suddenly there were some two hundred families who were taking an interest. Driven on by enthusiasm we tackled the problems of how to talk to large numbers of people, how to get a common base of knowledge amongst the group and how to progress quickly enough to get the main work out of doors completed, before our Autumn monsoon sets in.! That is roughly where we are today. Perhaps 60% of the field work has been done and in addition we were in a good position to make a real contribution to the Deposit Unitary Development plan in July. This was very important as change at that level is even more effective than having it as supplementary material in a TDS.

Photograph: John Street

John Street, special advisor
to the TDS project

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

We have just outlined the work pattern to the end of this year and plan a major release to the Littleborough Community of the draft conclusions - with hopefully enough time for anyone who cares to look at them and suggest change. From then on there are corrections to make, final opinions to be reconciled and we will have material, including maps and drawings in a position to open the dialogue with our Authority which will lead to the acceptance of the material and the start of the procedure which ends with this becoming special guidance to any planning or development that takes place in Littleborough.

It will have been a long trail to get to this position but no one should doubt its value, or the value of the material gathered during the exercise, and the powerful position this offers to our Community in the next few years when Littleborough will be one quarter (in terms of areas of opportunity) of the drive of Rochdale towards a better future. Your committee and their families will certainly have earned everyone’s thanks when this project concludes in 2003. The final word is do take the opportunity in the 2nd week of November to have your say and make your representations. Our assurance is that they will be considered seriously and if agreed will go into the final material.

 

 

 

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Radical Changes to the Government's Green Paper "Delivering A Fundamental Change"

Just in case you feel there is little point in trying to influence the shaping of national policies, the Government has made significant changes to the proposals for streamlining the planning process put forward in its Green Paper in December 2001. The combined efforts of thousands of individuals and several important environmental groups including the Civic Trust *, The Council for the Protection of Rural England and Friends of the Earth, in challenging the more contentious proposals have resulted in their being dropped altogether or modified.

The main concerns expressed, related to the overall strengthening of Central Government's hand in directing the wider thrust of a planning regime, detectable as a dominant theme running through the Green Paper.

In the foreword to the document the fundamental change looked for was intended to resolve what was seen as a sort of deadlock brought about by the need for business to have speedy decisions that help productivity on one hand and the need on the other for people to be involved in decisions that affect their lives. Perhaps it is now accepted that good decisions cannot always be achieved quickly.

The Government apparently now recognises that planning has a positive part to play in involving communities in the decision making process in helping to ensure good quality development and in protecting the environment.

Major infrastructure projects affecting transport and energy for instance will continue to be subject to public enquiries rather than as proposed, being laid directly before parliament. The right of individual members of the public to be heard at local planning hearings has been retained.

The Unitary Development Plan system is recognised as essential to the process of consulting the public and various interested parties about local plan proposals and involving them in the decision making procedure. Counties will continue to have a role in the framing of Regional policies and the proposed Business Zones will be identified by the local planning authority rather than by the Regional Planning body.

The Government has also decided to allocate an extra £350 million for the planning system in the next three years. Exactly how this is to be deployed is not clear. Perhaps some of it should be used to strengthen the planning control mechanism. This would enable local authorities to be more active in the enforcement of planning decisions when these are ignored or flouted by unscrupulous individuals and businesses.

As with the price of freedom so with the cost of the opportunity to influence policies - eternal vigilance is the watchword.

There are still several unresolved issues and much work and lobbying remains to be done but amenity groups and concerned individuals can take heart at the amount of ground won at this stage.

Don Pickis

*The Littleborough Civic Trust was one of the many environmental groups and amenity societies that submitted responses to the document.

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Dearnley Methodist Church

Dearnley Church

Dearnley Church

Photograph: Rae Street

Civic Trust members will, I am sure, have shared our delight in the cleaning and improvement of Dearnley Methodist Church. Indeed, that, together with the general upkeep of the cottages and shops, St Andrews church and the new houses nearby, means that Dearnley has almost become a village within a village again. Speaking to Geoff Profitt, the organist and property committee member, 1 was told that the new work on the buildings had been carried out with the assistance of a legacy, grants from the Rank Organisation and the Pennine Township Committee, to whom they are most grateful. The outside stonework of the original 1868 chapel and the newer additions from 1900 has been cleaned and silicone treated. It has emerged a beautiful golden colour (1 wonder if anyone knows of a record of where the stone was quarried?) and, to my mind, the carvings and decoration now stand out more clearly.

The church has been re-furbished inside too. Of note, are the oak furnishings - lectern, flower stand and communion table - carved by 'mousy' Thompson from North Yorkshire. The organ too is said to be one of the finest in the area. These beautiful furnishings from the 1960's were generously donated by Jack Butterworth (of Whittles Bakery, which was situated at the end of Whitelees Road), himself a musician and organist. Another more recent addition to celebrate the millennium and the church anniversary are the two stained glass windows, one of which continues the 'oak tree' theme with a brilliant depiction of a tree encircled by the church name. These windows were designed, crafted and installed by a local man, Richard Washbrook, whose relatives still live in Littleborough. During recent years the 1868 chapel has been re-modelled to provide a comfortable meeting space with room and facilities for serving refreshments. (for any other information telephone Geoff Profitt on 01706-377349)

Rae Street

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Significant Comment From the T.D.S. Group researching Education and Youth Opportunities

Does RMBC Education Authority really appreciate the situation regarding Littleborough school children? The School Reorganisation Plan 2002-2007 shows Littleborough Primary School to be heavily over-subscribed, and yet the Draft School Organisation Plan (July 2002) states that there is surplus capacity at the school regarding September 2002 admissions. The same plan (July 2002) states that Secondary Schools, Wardle High and Hollingworth High are over-subscribed, but, (quote) "Littleborough children are not disadvantaged on transfer from Primary to Secondary Schools".

In the past, surplus pupils have been 'offered' places at Todmorden High and, this year, children have been 'offered' places at Springhill High, a school which is not on a direct bus route from Littleborough. Is it right that youngsters from Littleborough are "farmed out" to any school which has available places at the time, regardless of whether it is suitable in any, or every, way for those particular youngsters? Does this mean that Littleborough pupils are never first choice for available places simply because of the closure of the High School in Littleborough?

A significant amount of house building has taken place in the Littleborough area, mainly 3 and 4 -bedroomed properties, which means that additional children at both primary and secondary level will need to be accommodated. Children of newcomers to the area will never become integrated into the community if they are sent to schools outside the boundaries of the town.

As housing development continues in Littleborough, Milnrow and Wardle during the next five years, with resulting strain on local services and infrastructure, this can only mean that Littleborough's young people will be even more widely dispersed in order to gain an education. This imposes a considerable burden on them because of the travelling time and conditions on our grossly overcrowded roads, and also because of the social implications of being separated from their friends within the group with which they have spent the first seven years of their education. Where siblings are unable to attend the same Secondary School, this also has implications for the parents, particularly when the schools are not on a convenient bus route.

As after-school activities are usually centred around the Secondary School, e.g.: swimming activities at Wardle High, Todmorden, Oulder Hill, this means that there is a lack of facilities, and therefore activities in Littleborough, resulting in there being no recognisable centre of authority to which the youngsters can relate, with consequent implications for social problems. This, obviously, must lead to a subsequent breakdown of the community, because the youngsters never develop any loyalty or sense of belonging to their hometown.

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Littleborough and its Conservation Areas

Littleborough's South Pennine setting has given it a heritage of building design shared across adjoining areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Influenced both by climate and the availability of local materials, a trans-Pennine vernacular style seems to have evolved during the 16th and 17th centuries. Based on practically useful designs, sturdy buildings were produced using gritstone, sandstone and stone roofing slates. During the 19th century the vernacular "accent" altered but again a style common to the whole area came in; still simple and practical but with a sharper rectangular treatment of elevations and details arising from a more standardised approach to the preparation of materials and construction methods.

The Littleborough area itself is remarkably rich in its built heritage. Apart from the Central Conservation Area it has three others, Rakewood, Hollingworth Fold and Whittaker. In the list of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest it has 71 entries, 19 of which are for clusters of buildings or terraces. In common with other areas in the South Pennines, Littleborough could be identified during an important phase of its history by the description "moorland and mill town", a place where in its valleys, an informal mix of farming, industry and housing growing in a natural organic pattern, could be found. That overall pattern survived almost intact in Littleborough until the 1970's when, as mills closed, residential development became the fastest growth "industry". Developing from settlement to village to small town, Littleborough's buildings and open spaces demonstrate a brief history of local design and the development of the town from the early 1800's to the 1960's and bear witness to the pressures exerted by location and natural resources in shaping it.

Of the six most important structures or clusters of buildings, the railway viaduct, the Parish Church, the Royal Oak and the Wheatsheaf are the most prominent. The dynamic impact of the railway era is immediately apparent, yet a closer view of the area reveals a Coach House, adjoining the Falcon Inn, adapted from a former farm building and, almost out of sight and completely dominated by the railway viaduct, the remaining buildings of a derelict canalside wharf area.

The two earlier stages of the growth of a transport system are there to be seen. The Falcon Inn was an important staging post on the coach route from Manchester to Halifax and beyond. In its construction phase the Rochdale Canal project, soon to be superseded by the railway it helped to supply with materials, had relied on the existing road system to supply the materials needed to build it. Its Littleborough Wharf could never have achieved the business activity of the rail sidings and goods yard in its heyday but those are now barely traceable while the forsaken remnants of the barns and workshops adapted and extended from much earlier structures remain, and await refurbishment and regeneration.

The distinguishing features of town centres wherever they are found are the scale of their buildings and their relation to the surrounding context. Where street furniture, paving, lighting, information signs, tree planting, shop alterations are appropriate and have been handled sensitively and in styles and materials of the prevailing character of the area, there is an immediate awareness that quality, conveyed by a sense of care and respect for the total visual impact is the hallmark: a town centre's distinctive personality is thus clearly and reassuringly expressed.

Photograph: TDS Group on walkabout

Group walkabout

Photograph: Iain Spencer Gerrard

Sadly this is not the case with Littleborough Town Centre. Comparison of photographs, one taken in the 1970's the other August 2002 will show a marked deterioration in its public expression. It's difficult not to be unkind in describing what now confronts us. A number of artefacts and adornments probably good in themselves, and even acceptable in other locations, taken together amount to little more than a random collection of junk. The sort of stuff you either don't really need or wish was of better size and quality, that you have come to accept and live with until you go away and see how much better things have been handled elsewhere. We have an elongated Victorian lamppost, a 'state of the art' 1980's lighting cluster more fitting to a hypermarket car- park, a toilet which looks plastic and related to nothing else in design terms, a row of trees which together with signs that are totally out of scale only serve to obscure the Wheatsheaf Roundhouse, the most prominent and original building in Littleborough and surely one of the most striking in any town centre in the South Pennines. To put it simply the out of place, out of scale, made of the wrong materials, or the plainly unnecessary, degrade the quality and lessen the impact. Can anyone who has visited Venice imagine this sort of vandalism being perpetrated in St. Marks Square however pressing the rule book requirement for directional signs, security lighting, trees, shrubs and extraneous decoration?

In the 1950's Ian Nairn waged a war against towns spoilt by "wirescape" and other clutter. Through the influential columns of the Architectural Review the message spread and for some time after his efforts achieved success, but half a century on we need to campaign once more to regain the streetscape and townscape from so much that is essentially invasive and alien.

We are therefore forced to ask the question: does Conservation Area Status really mean anything? Does it give the buildings, the open spaces, and the area at large, any special protection against neglect, elements that are thoroughly intrusive in size, scale and design, and material, or the work of determinedly "awkward" developers? The answer would seem clearly to be "no". So, do we give up? The answer is equally clearly "NO". T.D.S Group on Conservation Areas

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Thoughts of the Membership Secretary

My duties as Membership Secretary are really straightforward and on the whole quite pleasant.

At the beginning of each year it is always a pleasure to greet so many members calling to pay their dues when we can have a friendly chat, probably reviewing the past or looking to the future or even discussing some topical work of the Trust.

Naturally, it is a delight to meet and welcome new members to give them a brief history of the Trust and to explain what our present projects way be. Even to try to encourage them to become active within the Society. There is, unfortunately, always a downfall in any job and mine is the unpleasant task of' reminding those a little shy in coming forward to pay their annual subscription. The whole flock usually comes together in the end.

However, every now and again 1 have real pleasure in recommending to the Committee someone that has been a long serving and loyal friend of Littleborough Civic Trust supporting and working with us over very many years. Our first Honorary Members were created in 2002. Jack Trickett and Mrs. Marjorie Barker had been members long before records were kept. Jack had been an active member and continued his support long after he was able to physically work with us. He now comfortably and happily resides at Ryefields, Hurstead but still continues to keep in regular touch.

Many will remember Marjorie Barker for all her voluntary work with numerous organisations in Littleborough with the Civic Trust being fortunate to be among them. Members will also recall her generosity in providing a field near Bent's Farm when, in conjunction with Rochdale M.B.C., the Trust created Barker's Wood. Mrs. Barker now happily resides in Littleborough Home and has recently celebrated her 90th Birthday for which we sent our congratulations.

Now, this year, I am very happy to report the Committee have extended their gratitude to Miss Dorothy Jay and Mrs. Mary Williams for their very many years of active support by inviting them to become Honorary Members. Both ladies continue their interest in the Trust's work but are unable to be active. Dorothy Jay now resides at Hurstead House Nursing Home and Mary Williams at Hare Hill Court.

I am sure these ladies and the gentleman would be happy to remember the "old days" with any members wishing to contact them.

On such occasions as this it is a privilege to be Membership Secretary.

Jill Roberts

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Editor: Tony Smith