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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 1999-2000

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

COMMITTEE MEMBERS

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 summer edition is required before the 5th June.

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Talking Points

Iain Gerrard reports on topics discussed at recent Committee meetings.

My ‘small plea’ for back issues of our newsletters has had an unexpectedly good response. I now have in my possession at least one copy of most newsletters back to, and including, the issue of Winter 1975. Before that date, apart from the Summer 1974 issue, I have nothing. If there are members who have these "missing" issues but don't want to part with them, the next option is for me to borrow them, copy and return them; if this is the case give me a ring and I'll be happy to collect them from you. Other copies still needed, and I think it's worth listing them, are as follows: Winter 1976, Summer 1983, Winter 1990, Winter 1980, Winter 1985, Autumn 1991, Autumn 1981, Spring 1987, Summer 1993, Winter 1982, Winter 1989, Autumn 1997.

Photograph: Cocktail in glass

The book launch, held at the Coach House last November, turned out to be a pleasant evening for all who attended; it seemed to achieve the aims of its subplot, to bring together people of Littleborough to celebrate not only the history of the town, but its present and future as well.

Because of the success of the evening we have decided to do it again this year (no book launch this time of course) but with both the Littleborough Historical and Archaeological Society and the Rochdale Canal Society sharing the arrangements to make it a joint affair. The Coach House have been asked to accommodate us again, so please put the date (provisionally the 25th November) in your diaries.

The date has finally been set for the Great Hill wind turbine planning application to come before the Pennines Township Planning Committee. This will be Wednesday the 22nd of March and will be held at the Littleborough Community School on Calderbrook Road starting at 7.30 pm.

To all those who fear the proliferation of these giant machines all over the South Pennines, let me appeal to you not to rely upon others to persuade the Planning Committee to refuse this application. Whether you have already written in to the Council to object to the proposal or not, try to turn out on the night and show the strength of feeling within Littleborough and the Pennines against it. It is understood that the local Planners recommendation is to refuse the application, which in conjunction with the objections sent in by the adjacent authorities Rossendale and Calderdale - both of which have recently refused similar proposals within their own areas, ought to be sufficient to convince our councillors of the desirable decision; but to give more power to their collective elbows turn up, every little helps. Members of your committee were among many others who crowded into the committee room at Rawtenstall on Monday the 21st. of February to see the Hoggs Head Law hill application for wind turbines summarily tossed out: and it was a unanimous decision of their (Rossendale) planning committee!

On a more central note, some members of the Committee have expressed their concern over the recent application from the GM Fire Service to enclose the land at the rear of the fire station with an eight foot high, metal, palisade fence. This is unfortunate as the land, though 'private', is an area which has been used regularly by local children to play on, often accompanied by their parents, for perhaps forty years or more: a place of relative safety away from the nearby roads. There are no ‘squatters rights’ in this matter and the Fire Service has every right to do as they wish with their land, subject to planning law and any local objections such as appearance. It does remind us though how such areas are taken for granted until we are threatened with the loss of them and, indeed, how precious such open spaces are to any community. We have approached one local councillor about the application but it would probably rest with GMFS to modify their proposal in the light of our concerns rather than that it be refused.

Photograph: Daffodil bulbs in net bag

We were made aware of an offer of free daffodil bulbs, supplied by the local authority, to plant wherever we liked subject to landowner's permission, but too late....! When we contacted the appropriate department they had all gone. It seems this offer can recur from time to time so we have placed our name on the authority's list for next time. This will not be before the next season of course, towards the end of the year, but it would be nice to know if any members would be prepared to help the Committee in their dibbing and planting when the time comes. My telephone number is on the front cover. . ..

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CALENDAR OF FORTHCOMING EVENTS

22nd March (7.30 pm). Pennine Township Planning Committee - Great Hill wind turbines application. Littleborouglr Community School.

2nd April (1.00 pm). Tidy Britain Campaign - litter pick. Littleborough Town Centre Station Car Park.

27th April (8.00 pm). Annual General Meeting - Guest Speaker : Brian Holden, Rochdale Canal Society. The Coach House.

May/June Barker's Wood Open Day.

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Hollingworth Lake Country Park

Rae Street reports on plans to further develop our local Country Park.

Sketch: Hollingworht Lake

Several members of the Trust attended the open meeting on the Country Park at the Coach House on Saturday 22 January. We were a little confused as to the purpose of the meeting as most of the public in attendance imagined that it was a general meeting on all aspects of the Country Park. However as the session progressed we discovered that it was rather different. The main reason for the open meeting was to show the plans, and display a model, of a refurbished Visitor Centre. The plans included a re-styled cafeteria, lighter and airier, with windows overlooking the Ealees valley, while the offices, etc. would be re-sited upstairs. The majority of those present welcomed the changes which they thought would make the Centre much more attractive.

Another main discussion point raised by the RMBC Officers was the SCOSPA (Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities) proposal for developing ‘Gateway’ sites to the South Pennines, of which obviously Hollingworth Lake would be a key part. With the aim of raising awareness of the importance of nature and conservation, SCOSPA aims to promote and establish Gateway sites, with appropriate visitor facilities, interpretation and educational facilities. Members of the public who attended were, given the general nature of the title of the day, keen to voice their concerns about the Country Park at present and not keep solely to the two points made above. Following the meeting, therefore, the Civic Trust put in a letter trying to pick up on all the issues raised at the meetings we had attended. Here is a summary of the points we made.

TRAFFIC

Within the Country Park

Residents and Littleborough Trust members outlined the problems of traffic both within the park and for access to the Park. Within the Park those who had helped to draw up the Report in the early 70's pointed out that the problem of no separation between pedestrians and vehicular traffic on the stretch of road between the dam and the junction with Rakewood village road had still not been solved, 25 years later. This is a severe restriction for a Country Park set up for leisure, and should be addressed as a priority.

Others raised the question of 'unauthorised' vehicles using other parts of the Lake Bank road, which is extensively used by families enjoying ‘a walk round the Lake’.

Sketch: Hollingworth Lake

Encouraging people to come to the Lake other than by car.

We also want to attract more people to come to lake by other ways than cars. Improved cycle routes; renaming Smithy Bridge Station as Smithy Bridge for Hollingworth Lake: creating a safe pedestrian footpath from the station to the Lake; shuttle buses; an integrated bus and rail service which would be well advertised; were just some of the suggestions made.

Car Parking.

The Hollingworth Lake Road car park is not being fully used and several reasons were considered, for example, poor signposting , problems of access etc. These need to be addressed.

IMPROVED FACILITIES

Facilities at the centre.

Suggestions were made for facilities for changing rooms and hot showers for cyclists and long distance ramblers at the centre.

General Scenic

Strong voices were raised in opposition to any wind turbines being erected not only in the Park itself but anywhere in the vicinity since it was felt that this would be completely detrimental to the South Pennine which is to be developed for recreation and tourism.

‘GATEWAYS’

The Trust welcomed the idea of ‘Gateways‘, but members thought that high on the list should be Blackstone Edge. Both at the top of the Edge near the White House and at the bottom of the Roman Road, work is needed for tidying and regulation. The Roman Road itself is a scheduled Ancient Monument and its wonderful position with views across all the surrounding county will mean it will continue to attract visitors, but it will need careful consultation and plans to preserve its unique qualities.

WARDENS

The Civic Trust wanted to place on record its high regard for the work of the staff at both the Hollingworth Lake and Piethorn centres. However if there were to be extended programmes, it was felt that the question of increasing staffing levels should be looked at.

We have now had a reply from RMBC to our letter which we will be considering at our next committee meeting. In the meantime, the Trust plans to have an open meeting in early summer to raise all these questions for further public debate. Let us know your views now on what you would like to see discussed. For the date and venue, watch this space.

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The Pedlars Revisited

Allen Holt casts some light on the stories a forgotten valley has to tell.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, ‘The Pedlars’ is a colloquialism for a narrow valley between Birch Hill and East Hill, which connects Wardle with Littleborough at Shore. The adopted road into the valley at Wardle, Birch Hill Lane, is in an appalling state of disrepair, the road from Shore: Pedlar Brow Lane has remained unadopted. Today an air of sad neglect pervades the whole area — it was not always so, for hereabouts much local history has been recorded.

Drawing: Pedlar of old selling his wares

As the name implies this was the chosen route of itinerant pedlars who travelled from place to place hawking their wares; and many a Wardle textile worker employed at the Shore Mills of E. Clegg and Son Ltd walked to and from work through the Pedlars. But the valley really became alive when the Rochdale Board of Guardians opened the Cottage Homes Orphanage. In the form of a self-contained village the complex consisted of numerous ancillary buildings and seven large detached homes, each supervised by a resident mother. Some of the children attended St. James’ C.E. Primary School in Wardle village, where they are still fondly remembered as neat and tidy, well-behaved pupils. Nothing now remains of what had been a bold, farsighted attempt at rearing orphaned children in something approaching a family atmosphere in a rural setting. Today the site is occupied by a poultry farm.

The cottage homes were built by Dryland and Preston of Littleborough, whose business premises were at the junction of Stubley Mill Road and Hali- fax Road. As a testament to the quality of their workmanship, two large detached Edwardian Villas still stand in Wardle Road.

In August 1935 The Pedlars was illuminated as never before when an enormous bonfire was built on East Hill. It formed part of a Nationwide chain of beacons to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. Narrow gauge rails were laid up the steep hillside along which heavy baulks of timber and wooden barrels were hauled by a hand winch. I well remember being there on the night as a small boy, wondering how so many ‘old people’ had managed to get on top of the hill in the dark! Men with hand-held blow torches stood about waiting for the signal to set fire to the beacon. Which was duly given when flames could be seen leaping from the Black- stone Edge beacon. For many years afterwards a wooden post marked the site of the East Hill bonfire.

As part of a government sponsored Dig for Victory campaign during the Second World War, the farmer at East Top Farm grew a field of wheat on top of East Hill. Proving to one and all that it could be done, even in these climes. It would be interesting to know whether records were kept on the method of cultivation, yield and quality of the crop.

There are two feats of civil engineering worthy of note in the Pedlars, one is spectacularly visible, the other totally hidden to all but the keen eyed. In the middle of the valley where the two hills face each other, a flight of stone steps climb, almost, but not quite to the top of Birch Hill — the highest, longest and steepest stairway for many a mile. - Sadly like most things in this forgotten valley it too has been woefully neglected. Some of the steps have become dislodged, others have completely rolled over making it highly dangerous in parts. If climbing these steps could be described as exhilarating the descent is positively hair-raising. Rather ominously the steps are waymarked as a Public Footpath - with no warning notice to advise even the most intrepid walkers of the dangers ahead. On the summit of Birch Hill at 775 ft. above sea level there is a reservoir, which poses the question; How is it filled? Answer: From across the valley on East Hill. Water from high up on East Hill is channelled into a filter tank built into the hillside at 825 ft. above sea level. From there the water is fed into a 6 inch diameter iron pipe which plunges unseen down the hillside under the valley floor and up the side of Birch Hill to the reservoir. Water, of course, finds its own level by atmospheric pressure, which when supplemented by a 50 ft. head of water ensured a continuous flow through this enormous u-bend pipe. In all probability this remarkable piece of civil engineering dates back to the time when Birch Hill hospital was first built.

One would have to be a prophet to foretell what the future holds for The Pedlars. Bearing in mind it has been in decline since the Cottage Homes were demolished over a half century ago. On a recent visit to the area, whilst descending from the top of Birch Hill (not by the steps) I looked down on a large bungalow under construction at the foot of the hill. Behind it in a well fenced pinfold some Highland cattle were peacefully grazing. Could this be the long awaited touchstone heralding the regeneration of the valley? If that is so, the next logical step forward would be to get the access road into the valley repaired.

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Rochdale Unitary Development Plan Review 2001-2016

John Street encourages us to participate in this ‘dull’ but critically important process.

Although an unexciting headline, this review is of vital interest to our Civic Trust members. It is a Government directed plan with statutory authority which will be executed by each Local Authority. The U.D.P, once reviewed, will guide the future development and use of land and buildings within its area.

Once accepted, if you wish to complain about a proposed new housing development or an industrial unit that is proposing to expand its activities behind your house, or the loss of a footpath the first test of the validity of your objection will be ‘is the intention of the new development or action acceptable within the broad intentions for that area expressed in the Unitary Development Plan.

The U.D.P currently exists but is periodically reviewed to accommodate changed circumstances or to reflect political changes. Such a review has started now.

At the time of a review there is a serious attempt made to consult with everyone in the Authority and there is some scope to adapt to stated preferences. The Review will also be used to include new planning policies and to change the existing plans where they are out of date. So far our officers have reviewed what exists, the new Government guidelines and they have run one day seminars in each Township using a booklet called an ‘Issues Report‘ Any- one may have a copy, contact your local councillor or ring one of the Authority enquiry numbers.

Interested bodies such as our Civic Society are invited to submit responses to a wide range of questions in the Issues Report, as are individual readers. Your committee have submitted a formal response during February. It is too long to reproduce in the newsletter but any member may have a copy by contacting our secretary. To help you decide if you wish to participate; the following is a brief outline of the topics involved. (It should be emphasised the authority will consider input on any planning matter during this review).

In our introduction we touched on:

We followed this introduction with an answer to each of the specific questions which were posed in the Issues Report under the following main headings:

Urban Regeneration

What sites are available for housing and industry, how do we integrate them, and where. What value is there in the Greenfield concept, how do we achieve I the mandatory ‘sustainable development‘.

Housing

Where should it be placed, how much is needed and what kind, what incentives to build might be appropriate and what density of houses is desired.

Employment

How and where should we encourage employment, given we have the second worst employment figures of any author- ity in the Greater Manchester Area.

Town Centre

Are leisure facilities adequate and are they best sited. Are our waste disposal systems adequate , how could the U.D.P. support best practice.

Transport

Do we physically constrain car usage to solve the growing congestion, what part might efficient and improved railway and bus services, and facilities for cyclists and pedestrians play.

Other Issues

This allowed the opportunity to introduce Conservation areas, looking after the scenery, access to the countryside and a broader view of our planning in the Region as well as in the Authority The most obvious case would be U.D.F recognition of responsibility towards the South Pennine Area and a unified statement in all the UDP statements of the intentions of the involved authorities.

If you have real concerns over any, or many, of the issues mentioned above it would he worthwhile looking at the material the authority has made available, the response in the name of the Civic Trust and then prepare your own points. At this time such input will be welcomed by the planning officers in the authority.

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John Hindle

We were very sorry to learn of the death of John Hindle. I remember him so well from the very early days of the Civic Trust. I can hear him now arguing for supporting tree planting and preserving our old buildings and the open spaces in Littleborough at one of our first meetings, possibly in 1971. At that time John worked at Fothergill and Harveys and it was he who told us about the gardens around their sites, planned by Gordon Harvey and the fact that the gardens included unusual plants and shrubs. I know of at least one unusual shrub, a yellow scented flowering black- currant. Does any reader know of any others? The gardens are still there despite all the changes. It is up to us in Littleborough to try to retain them. John of course had a lifelong love of walking and the moors and no-one was more passionate in defence of keeping our footpaths open. In addition to being a founding member of the Footpaths Group which has done sterling work in caring for our extensive network of paths, John also joined and worked with the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society. Despite his severe illness in recent years, John retained his interest in Littleborough’s history and heritage. We owe him a debt for caring so well for the public footpaths.

We extend our sympathy to Jean and his family.

Rae Street.

R. I. P.

We were very sorry to learn of the death early in January of John Hindle. While John had been badly affected by diabetes in recent years, his passing was still an unexpected blow to his family and friends.

Although John wasn’t a member at the time of his death and only took part in our activities on a sporadic basis from 1984 onwards, his contribution before that was immense and ensured that, for good or ill, he was one of our best known members to the general public. It’s no exaggeration to say that he has left an indelible mark on our society. John may well have been a founder member in 1971. He was certainly active by 1972 when he setup the Footpaths Group with Lincoln Jackson and Fred Harte with the aim of protecting and preserving the rights of way in Littleborough. The Group is still going strong today and although John criticised us in later years I think he still regarded the Group as one of his major achievements.

While John was most associated with footpaths he was interested in the whole range of issues covered by the Trust and was Secretary from 1973 to 1975. He organised coach trips up to 1980. He was also very interested in local history and was Treasurer of the Local Historical Society for a time. His most controversial contribution came in 1980 when he introduced a major change in the way the Footpaths Group operated. Instead of relying on the individual leaders’ discretion as to route, each walk was planned on the 6 inch map and issued to the "leader" beforehand to ensure that every footpath was covered over a three year period. This had two results, a significant number of members switching to "easier" walking groups such as the Rochdale Holiday Fellowship and a steep decline in our relations with certain farmers and the local authority although it must be said their then Footpaths Officer did not inspire anyone else’s confidence.

In July 1982 John unexpectedly resigned as Footpaths Secretary and then from the Committee eighteen months later. From that point on he gave more time to other organisations and of course his young family but he remained in touch.

John was a combative personality with a strong opinion on more or less every- thing (one of his greatest heroes was Geoffrey Boycott) and was at the centre of some heated exchanges over the years (most memorably perhaps outside Roundhouse Farm in 1980). However John always wanted to hear the opposite view and never resorted to abusing his opponent to win his point. He was, fundamentally, a very decent man and like all such people will be sadly missed.

MICHAEL FARRELL

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Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group

Spring 2000 Walks Programme

Sunday 26th March Ealees - Schofield – Brearley (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.45 pm
Leader: J. Taylor

Sunday 9th April Soyland - Fiddlewood — Hanging Stones (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.30 p.m. Cars to Royd Lane, Ripponden
Leader: K. Kiernan

Sunday 23rd April Stoodley Pike — Cruttonstall (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.30 pm. Cars to Lumbutts (Don't park by the chapel)
Leader: G. Sutcliffe

Sunday 7th May Windy Bank - Lydgate - Stormer Hill (5.25 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 2.00 pm.
Leader: J. Taylor

Sunday 21st May Shaw Lane — Turnough — Broad Carr (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.5O pm. Cars to Wildhouse Lane layby.
Leader: J. Taylor

OR Yorkshire Dales walk (approx. 10 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 9.00 am then by car.
Leader: G Sutcliffe

Sunday 4th June Birtle and Limefield (5 miles)
Meet Littleborough station car park at 1.30 pm Cars to Elbut Lane, Birtle
Leader: K. Kiernan

New walkers are always welcome. Come prepared for mud and rain and bring, if desired, a small drink or ‘munch’. Please note also that dogs are not allowed on the walks. If you need a lift, it’s polite to share the driver’s petrol costs. For further information on any of the walks ring Joe Taylor on 01706 344711

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Editor: Chris Wilkinson

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