Autumn 2006

Contents - Click on the item to go to it or scroll down

Organisation to Safeguard South Pennines

Saskia Hallam Retires from the Civic Trust

Notes from the Secretary:

Hare Hill Park - Green Flag Award

Rushbearing Boost for Littleborough Civic Trust

Enid Stacy ('Our Enid')

The Modernisation of Pikehouse Cottages


Organisation to Safeguard South Pennines

The new South Pennines Rural Regeneration Company, was launched recently. The glorious but fragile landscape of the South Pennines which was listed for National Park status but overlooked is to have the co-ordinated care it has merited for half a century.

Launched by the area's local authorities, SPRRE will make this a better place in which to live, work, play and invest. Representing the public, private and voluntary sectors, the not-for-profit company will:

  • Support the development of a sustainable local economy
  • Protect and enhance the character and image of the area
  • Improve our environment and infrastructure
  • Until now the South Pennines has been managed under the umbrella of SCOSPA: the Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities.

    SCOSPA has recently overseen promising initiatives such as the South Pennines Heritage Strategy but inevitably the management of the area has lacked cohesion due to the number of organisations involved. SPRRE will replace SCOSPA and take forward a vision which is sixty years overdue.

    In 1945 as the government looked to Britain's post World War II future, the ideal of protected open spaces was included in its plans. The famous Dower Report was commissioned which chose for special recognition the nation's finest landscapes.

    With one exception, these have gained statutory status as National Parks and AONBs (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). This includes our neighbours the Yorkshire Dales and Peak National Parks.

    Linking them is the South Pennines … listed for a national status it was never accorded. Why? Because this was a working landscape with mills below the moors.

    Values change. Today our industrial heritage is world famous. Indeed this area ranks as one of the world's most significant cultural landscapes: a term for those which intermix natural forces with human endeavour – and nowhere better displayed.

    The campaign for special status was revived in 1972 by Calder Civic Trust in its Case for A Pennine Park. In 1974 SCOSPA was formed. In the 1990s, the Countryside Commission and English Nature identified the South Pennines as of outstanding character and ecological importance for upland birds. This is now an EU Special Protection Area.

    In 1996 SCOSPA and its partners declared the South Pennines a Heritage Area. This was timely because, as the Heritage Strategy states: "the landscape is under threat". Remember that lack of its due status as a National Park or AONB continues to leave the South Pennines vulnerable – this remains the only upland landscape in England and Wales NOT to have statutory protection.

    We face such issues as windfarms, the decline of traditional farming, leisure needs and development pressures. There has to be a plan, a blueprint – drawing together the regional, national and international interests which today shape the future – and there has to be action.

    The Heritage Strategy is our blueprint for the future of this area. Now we have the South Pennines Rural Regeneration Company to take it forward. (Based on an article in South Pennine Visitor published by Pennine Heritage) 


    Saskia Hallam Retires from the Civic Trust

    Saskia Hallam has recently retired from the Civic Trust (the national body to which local Civic Trusts like the LCT are affiliated).
    She was head of Civic Societies from 1993 until her retirement, during which time she built up an extensive network of contacts throughout the Civic Society movement. Member Societies came to regard Saskia as a key link with the Civic Trust and a person to whom they could always turn for help and friendly advice.

    The Committee of the LCT join many others in thanking Saskia for her help and support and wishing her well in her retirement.



    Notes From the Secretary

    Flower Meadow on the Old Gasworks site

    This seems to have been going on now for some time, and indeed it has. You may even have thought that it had 'died the death'. Obtaining the necessary funding is not the easiest of tasks and this process has been the reason for the protracted period from when the idea was first promulgated.

    We still have not obtained the funding needed, which is of the order of £12000 or so, but we now have high hopes that we will. Jill Roberts and Joan Smith have been trying various sources and it is thought that one of these will agree to the main part of the funding.

    Two sources we hope to interest in this matter are the Pilsworth Environmental Company and the Breathing Places fund. The Pilsworth Environmental Company is one of those which are able to make voluntary contributions for certain types of projects under the Landfill Tax Regulations of October 1996. The landfill site operators can reclaim 90% of these contributions from Customs & Excise. The Breathing Places fund is a BBC initiative set up by the BBC programme Springwatch as announced by Bill Oddie a few weeks ago.

    Both require that there be some initial 'seeding' money for the project and this has now been obtained. The Littleborough Civic Trust is prepared to donate £500 from the bequest of £1000 from Marjorie Barker who died in 2003 (see Winter 2003 edition), and we have had firm offers of £600 from the MoorEnd Trust and £1000 from McCormick's of Littleborough. We hope to have good news shortly.


    Conservation Areas Meeting

    Following the meeting we had had in February, as reported in the newsletter Spring edition, we were recently approached by David Morris with a request to meet again. This we did on the 16th August at the Coach House.

    David Morris explained that, following the previous meeting they had had with us, they had been looking in detail at the Central Conservation Area. This had led them to the conclusion that there was so much wrong in it, much of it technically illegal, that a more comprehensive approach to that discussed at the previous meeting was required.

    The 'do it in bits' approach would be prolonged and annoying to the shopkeepers who would consequently be less inclined to cooperate. He said that he proposed to put a policy proposal before the appropriate committee - this might be the 'main township' one (by which I took him to mean the Cabinet) rather than the Pennines - outlining in some detail how he proposed to go forward on the issues of enforcement. If passed this would have the advantage of being seen to be acting equally to all those affected, and ensure that, if and when concerned shopkeepers approached Councillors, they would already be aware of the plan of action.

    He said that the Planning department intended to divide the central area into three or four separate districts and tackle them one at a time. The first section he proposed would be the length of Church Street from Todmorden Road to Hare Hill Road.

    Planning control over adverts was stronger than over other types of development in that advert approval was only for four years after which the advert could be reviewed. This included the signs over shops although the control over size and type of lettering was very limited. Shop front changes of a material nature needed planning permission and more so in a conservation area.

    In order to establish a baseline for the present conditions of the shop fronts he and others had taken photographs of every shop in Church Street along with shots of the other side of the viaduct and the Roundhouse. These however needed to be supplemented, where possible by photographs of the same area but taken within the last five years or so to show what changes had taken place within that period of time. Apparently if nothing had been said about changes made, for four years following the work being carried out, there was little that could be done. He emphasised that persuasion was always preferable to laying down the law.

    In more detail:

    The signs in front of the Viaduct on Canal Street and Halifax Road were there without permission and could be removed without too much of a problem. David was asked about Highways' signs over which there was no planning jurisdiction. David said they nevertheless had 'some influence'. It was agreed that the positioning of the signs, whether they were strictly needed or not, might be improved so that they impinged less on the viaduct.

    Can we really get rid of these?

    'A'-signs (these are movable signs which from the side take the form of a letter A) were a matter for the Highways Department and they were presently dealing with this matter. Iain reminded them that it had been suggested to him that, in the case of an area where there were a number of businesses wishing to advertise, a single sign giving moderate details of each unit would be preferred to a proliferation of individual ones of different shapes, sizes and positions.

    Signs advertising the presence of a business were basically 'permitted development' although only on the property owned by the home. This meant that where an advert had been fixed to another building it might not be permitted development. New casement windows which have replaced original sliding sashes, which opened without protruding beyond the building front, may look similar to the originals until they were opened. Sliding sashes were considered to be preferable and safer, because they allowed egress in times of fire.

    A number of buildings have had new windows fitted in recent years and David said that photographs of the previous ones would be helpful. Unlikely, I know, but if anyone does have photographs please let me or any committee member know.

    A number of shop fronts had recently been changed and without permission. Sometimes these were pretty hideous and took no account of the general appearance of adjacent properties. On the other hand some were neat and tidy, although often even these had removed or hidden the details of wooden cornices and pillars.

    Shutters were an ugly and ever increasing problem. David pointed out that the problem with the shutters was that the insurance companies often said they were needed before they would give cover. He said that in the context of planning and conservation areas this was a problem for them and the shop owners. The bottom line was that insurance companies could not be allowed to dictate planning policy. He said that in the main shutters were demanded to protect the glass and not the contents. Iain pointed out that the total cost of shutters and the sort of glass presently used would probably be little different to that for fitting 'unbreakable' glass in the first place. David also said that vandalism usually took place in the late evening and as this was the time when fast food takeaways were open it made their fitting of shutters unnecessary.

    It is Council policy to allow shutters but a rider is that, were possible, the boxes should be contained within the building. We know of only one shop in Littleborough centre where this has been done.

    One or two old buildings were suffering from a build up of clutter on their faηades. There was also the annoying ugliness of satellite dishes on both the elevations and the roofs and which often had had no consent. Listed building in particular needed to take care in such situations. The shops on Church Street from the bookshop to the corner on Seed Hill Buildings were generally considered to be a reasonable stretch of original frontages in acceptable condition.


    Ealees (Canal Street)

    Further to previous comments in the newsletter it was felt that to await a planning application for the most recent proposals by the developer was not the best way forward. We were also concerned with reported comments attributed to David Morris. While not directly involved with this site his position requires that he be consulted and, indeed, he can make observations as he sees fit.

    We asked for a meeting with David and this was held on the 23rd June at the Coach House. After much discussion was mutually agreed that the situation with the present proposals at Ealees, put forward by the Developer, was extremely problematical with the Rochdale Development Agency not able to readily sort it out. There was concern that the Developer would be unable to come even close to reaching a solution acceptable to the Littleborough community. But if he gave up and walked away there would then be the possibility that another developer would buy the land - at least that of Greenwood Brothers which comprised the major part of the site - and put in an application for many more dwellings. If this was then refused, because it didn't comply with the Development Brief, the applicant might then, on the basis that the Brief wasn't viable as evidenced by the inability of the original chosen Developer to satisfy it, go to appeal and win. David Morris had conceded that the choice of materials and shapes was 'fussy'. It had been agreed that further discussions at this time with the Developer would not be productive.

    David Morris suggested an informal meeting between ourselves, Liz Patel of the Rochdale Development Agency, Richard Butler and David himself. This was arranged for the 20th July and was to be attended on our part by Iain, Tony, Elizabeth and Don.

    Although considered a 'useful' meeting, both Iain and Tony had been less than happy with the outcome which left them with the impression that it was unlikely that any progress could be made through the preferred developer unless the building of apartments was accepted as a large part of the development. David Morris had said he would be taking our comments back to the developer to seek some changes, although these were likely to be of a cosmetic nature.


    Planning Applications

    It is now possible to view and download all planning applications from the Rochdale M.B.C. website. This is an incredibly useful way of viewing them and allowed far more coverage of applications than ever before. Anyone can access the information and should any readers have a concern over any application they can now see for themselves, without the need to travel into Rochdale.


    The Waterways Trust

    We received a letter from Clare Riches of the Waterways Trust asking for the opportunity to speak to us and we invited her to come to the August meeting. (Just to remind everyone the Waterways Trust actually owns the Rochdale Canal; British Waterways are under a long term agreement to manage and maintain it on their behalf.)

    She started by explaining that her remit was to increase the number of people who used the canal; more particularly users of the towpath, such as walkers, cyclists and anglers.

    She worked from home or one of the offices available at Wigan although much of her time was spent 'on the road' meeting as many people as she could. The canals she was responsible for were the Rochdale and the arm connecting with the River Ribble. However, because the Rochdale had had such a bad series of stoppages resulting in a poor reputation, she had been relieved of all other duties and been asked to concentrate on the Rochdale exclusively.

    She worked alone and, because of the requirements of Health and Safety needed a 'companion' to accompany her on her visits to the canal. Iain and Kate offered to be this when possible.

    She referred to an eleven-page questionnaire which was being prepared and which she hoped would be completed by as many people and groups as possible. She needed at least 100 of them to be completed by next March.

    Other things she wanted to promote were:

    She acknowledged that the litter in Littleborough was nowhere near as bad as in parts of Rochdale and it was pointed out that, while we would be happy to help where we could, it would only be within the Littleborough boundary.

    Knowledge of local events would be of help to her such as festivals or carnivals etc. and she referred to the idea of self-guided heritage walks and trails. She said that it was her intention to improve the signage along the canal to enable people using it to judge better where they were. John mentioned the imminent creation of an important new Conservation Area encompassing Rock Nook Mill which would include the canal from Pikehouse Bridge to the lock named Second Below by Sladen Wood Mill.

    The Chairman said that we would keep in touch with her and that we were prepared to be involved, where possible, with a number of her ideas.


    Littleborough Civic Trust Website Revamped

    Those of you with the ability to connect to the web will have noted that our site has fallen a little behind in recent months, with updates and other changes being conspicuous by their absence.

    This has been my fault in the main as, although I haven't been in control of the actual site maintenance, it has been up to me to keep the lady who did look after it up to scratch with information.

    Teresa Paskiewicz offered to look after the site following a plea by me in our Newsletter Summer 2002 edition. She has done this freely for the last 3½ years and I would like to record our appreciation and thanks for her efforts.

    It was decided some months ago that we would purchase webspace from the Internet Service Provider through which we have been dealing. Apart from any other reason this allows whoever is maintaining the site to pass it over to another to carry on when required. All the new person requires is the password. In the changing membership, inevitable in any organisation, this is a useful ability.

    In the meantime the various pages have been redesigned to some extent and updated and, as of the 3rd of August, the website is once again usefully informative. Have a look at it and let me know if you are pleased or displeased, or if you have any comments as to what we might include in the future.

    The website address hasn't changed and is prominently displayed on the back page of this magazine.

    Iain S Gerrard


    Hare Hill Park - Green Flag Award

    This Summer Littleborough's Hare Hill Park was awarded the prestigious Green Flag, an event that marked the culmination of five years hard work renewing and refurbishing the Park.

    Five years ago, increasingly dismayed at the condition of the Park, local people led by Jill Roberts held a public meeting with the aim of organising a Friends Group. Some of the initial committee had experience of volunteering before, but many of us had no experience at all! We were however bound by common aims: to improve the Park's infrastructure, most especially repairing the broken Bandstand, and to get people back into their Park.

    The Friends drew up an Action Plan of the things they would like to improve. We looked for sources of funding to improve facilities and undertook practical activities like bulb planting and litter picking. We also organised events like Carol Concerts and A Fun Day for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

    The new bandstand

    There have been times when the group felt we would never reach our goals, and the condition of the Bandstand continued to deteriorate - but in 2003 a major stroke of luck came our way. The Council was eligible to bid for capital funding to improve green spaces under the Fair Shares scheme - and Hare Hill Park was included as part of Rochdale's overall bid. Here the importance of community involvement became clear. The presence of an active Friends group made a big difference to the chances of success for the bid, and our then Chairperson, Gill Brierley, worked tirelessly to pull together all the necessary information.

    The bid was successful and now finally the Council had the funds to carry out the refurbishment of the Bandstand and other vital capital works like renewing the footpaths and replacing benches and bins.

    The new Bandstand roof went on in November 2004 - in time for our Christmas Carol Concert, and I for one had a lump in my throat when the Band struck up the first hymn that Sunday before Christmas.

    Since then the work has continued, and it has been lovely to see more and more people using the Park again.

    At the end of 2005 the decision was made to enter the Park for assessment under the Green Flag awards - Hare Hill Park being the first Park in Rochdale Borough to be considered. The last six months has seen a huge amount of activity in preparation for the judges' assessment and great credit goes to the Park's gardeners and all in Park Services who worked so hard to get everything ready. The night before the judging, I and another member of the committee walked around the Park and it really did look beautiful.

    And now that Hare Hill is a Green Flag Park? Well the work carries on. Getting the flag is one thing, keeping it is something else. The judges will be back again next year and like any person with a garden will tell you - there's always something that needs improvement!

    Helen Kelsall, Secretary, Friends of Hare Hill Park

    The Committee of Littleborough Civic Trust would like to extend their congratulations to Helen and the Friends for this wonderful acheivement.


    Rushbearing Boost for Littleborough Civic Trust

    The Littleborough Rushbearing Festival in July provided the perfect opportunity for Littleborough Civic Trust to showcase itself to visitors.

    Tony & Joan Smith, Sylvia & Russell Johnson with the LCT stall (and canine friends!)

    Committee members manned a stall in the Coach House Summer Market on the Saturday and in the Square for the Rushbearing proper on the Sunday which attracted a good deal of interest.

    Littleborough Councillors Pauline Maguire, Peter Evans and Rosemary Jones stopped by for a chat. A number of visitors expressed interest in becoming LCT members and several copies of the Town Design Statement and LCT Newsletter were sold, bringing in useful revenue for the Trust.


    Enid Stacy ('Our Enid')

    This is the second extract from Rae's tribute on the occasion of the dedication of the memorial plaque at St. James Church, Calderbrook, Littleborough on 25th March 2006

    International Gatherings – And Peace

    In 1896 a large conference of the International Socialist Workers and the Trades Unions was held in London with 650 delegates. Among the 54 women was Rosa Luxembourg and 'our Enid'. Enid took part the day before in a peace demonstration in Hyde Park. It was pouring with rain but they marched to the music of the Marseillaise and 50 brass bands all playing 'in praise of peace'. There were 35 different processions of Labour Guilds with banners waving – they had even come from Germany. The procession was made up of working women, men and children who kept going despite the rain. In Hyde Park they had a circle of 12 platforms and Enid was one of the main speakers.

    Meeting Percy Widdrington, The Christian Socialist

    She met Percy Widdrington when electioneering for one Ramsay McDonald. Percy, was only 21 and she 27. He was a devout Anglican and, although she was having some problems with the church, the relationship developed; but it was to be two years before they married. They were married, in May 1897, near her home in Bristol, at All Saints Church in Clifton.

    Women's Rights

    At the next annual conference of the Independent Labour Party, she was one of the few women. But the Manchester Guardian saw the hazards ahead. The leader writer pontificated: 'There is a danger of the [socialist] movement being taken over by women.' Enid was a staunch supporter of women's rights and contributed to 'Forecasts of the Coming Century'. Enid's contribution was a Century of Women's Rights.

    Rae Street & Elaine Gerrard hold up Rae's suffragette scarf by Enid's grave.

    United States Of America

    By the end of the century, the knowledge of Enid's power as a platform speaker had spread and she was invited to do a lecture tour in the US. Percy appears to have been supportive and tried to persuade Enid to have a permanent housekeeper, because, as he saw it, she couldn't continue to lecture and maintain the house. He didn't want children either; for the same reasons, he thought it would interfere with the lecturing. Enid seemed to have responded with the fact that she could cope. She loved, and was loved, in America. She found though that the American women were not nearly as 'advanced' in their thinking as women in England. And she earned money there. Percy wanted her to stay on because 'it would be a gold mine'. She sent back $260 and immediately Percy could see more opportunities for her. 'Like one of the leading professors, you might go to Italy'.

    Back In Littleborough

    In his letter he said, 'things are looking very shabby – curtains especially. The cold in my study is arctic so that I find that I positively must have a pair of thick window curtains. We shall think of you when we eat turkey or the kippers if it won't run to turkey'. He reported two days before the end of the century that they had had a good meal at the vicarage.

    Enid, as she had desired for others, did serve the wider community. Had she worked too hard? When she was making tea for a friend in the vicarage, pregnant with her second child, her husband heard her cry out and she died at his feet. She had had a massive 'embolism'.

    You can see her memorial stone, in the form of a cog wheel, in St. James church yard.

    Her friend gave this tribute years later: 'more often than not it was her hard-won earnings, and often after hours of hot baking, that paid for the cakes we ate so thoughtlessly. Her shoes were literally worn out, tramping round for sale of tickets and organisation work of every kind'.

    Later as a platform speaker, it was her brilliance, incision and logic which won the day with her audience from Littleborough and all across the United States.


    The Modernisation of Pikehouse Cottages


    "Is it on yet Mum?" I would say, eagerly pressing one of the newly installed light switches in the kitchen of our little house at Pikehouse Cottages.

    "No not yet", Mum would reply, and I could tell she was getting bored with the same question being asked every day when I came home from school.

    In the early 1950s we were 'modernised' by the landlords (Fothergill & Harvey's). Each tenant had been moved out, plumbing and electric wiring had been installed, a new sink in the kitchen, a bathroom upstairs, and hot and cold mains water.

    As soon as our house was completed we were moved back in, and whilst the plumbing worked, the electricity was not connected for some time afterwards; my Dad had been told we were waiting for a transformer to come. When this did arrive, it was installed on a pole close to the place where the river Roch goes under the canal. As of February 2006, some 50 odd years later, I walked down the lane and that same transformer looked to be still there.

    Then, one Friday afternoon, I opened the back door, and I heard, to my surprise, music! Music coming from the front room, and there, under the window, was the beautifully coloured, illuminated, glass panel of a Portadine Radiogram. Then I knew we had electricity.

    Before modernisation we had a large radio set that was powered by an equally large battery and an accumulator, both had to be taken away and re-charged, and of course, when we were 'going electric' the set was also taken away, so the only time we had music was when the wind up gramophone came out. The battery itself was heavy and had to be carried out using two hands, a bit like carrying a beer crate, but the accumulator was a small glass-looking box, square in shape and with liquid inside which I think may have been acid, to this day I don't know the purpose of the accumulator. I once saw the accumulators being taken down to the cellar of Percy Dixon's shop. (See Editor's note below.)

    Percy Dixon's shop was at Rock Nook, opposite the Summit school and whilst most of the building is still there, the part which was the shop has gone. It was a wooden building attached to the Summit end of the row, which only seemed to consist of four properties. At the Littleborough end was the Co-op, the middle two I don't know, but the Summit end was the house for the shop. When we had moved back into our house, our back bedroom had been made smaller to accommodate the new bathroom, so after the wiring and plastering the workmen painted these two rooms for us, it was like a mauve colour, and Dad asked the workmen what colour it was, the man told him it was neutral colour. Many years later when I had my own house, I found a few half tins of paint left over from different jobs. Wanting to paint an out-house I thought of mixing the paint together to save buying any. As they were all different colours I didn't know what to expect so imagine my surprise when it turned out the same as our bedroom at Pikehouse!

    Pikehouse Cottages today - No 4 is the left side of the central mock gable
    Rochdale Canal in the foreground

    During modernisation our huge black and chrome fire with the oven and boiler was removed and a back boiler and fire grate fitted. Dad was told that this fire could be "banked up" at night and therefore would still be lit in the morning. This was quite an innovation for us; although difficult to comprehend in these days of automated central-heated, double glazed, and insulated houses: when we as children got up in a morning in winter the house would be cold, so cold that ice would form on the inside of the window pane. I always remember the intricate patterns that would be displayed there, and dependent on how cold it was would determine just how much of the glass would be frosted. As far as I can remember the new fire made little difference.

    Another bonus was our flush-toilet, because, before this we had an outside lavatory. There was a block of four directly opposite our front door at right angles to the canal wall, so we had to go out of the front door, cross the road and enter the toilet block which had a passage down the middle with two toilets on either side, not flushing, but a large tub underneath the wooden seat. The tub was accessible through a hole in the back of each cubicle, and would be emptied into a wooden, horse drawn cart that used to come down the lane, possibly once a week or so. Does the phrase "You don't know you're born" come to mind?

    I heard the other day that Calderbrook Church still has a tub-toilet that has to be emptied by volunteers.

    Russell Johnson

    Editor's Note

    My recollection from a boyhood spent messing about with electronics is that the old valve radios required two sources of power. A low voltage was needed to heat the cathodes, which is what made the valves glow. This required quite a large current, so in the absence of mains electricity an accumulator was used. These were rechargeable lead-acid batteries, very similar to a car battery. A higher voltage was needed for the anodes of the valves, but as the current drawn was relatively small, an ordinary dry battery, similar to a torch battery but larger, would suffice.

    When the accumulator needed recharging it would be taken to a local shop or garage that provided this service. My mother used to reminisce about working in our local Post Office in Yorkshire during the War. In addition to providing the usual postal services and selling the sort of goods you would expect of a corner shop, the Post Office also sold petrol from a hand-operated pump outside on the pavement and charged accumulators for the "wireless" for a few pence.


    Editor: Brian Walker