Pen drawing: Littleborough Square

Pen Drawing of Littleborough Square

Talking Points

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

Daffodil Bulbs

Well, we did plant them! A bag went into Albert Street as mentioned last month. Another bag has gone along the canal towpath near to Lock 45 (Hope British Waterways don't object!) and a third bag went into the middle of Littleborough. The problem I foresee is that we weren't contacted by RMBC at the appropriate time (despite me asking them to do so last year and giving them my contact address) which meant that some of the bulbs were already bursting with green shoots when we got them. This isn't catastrophic but, I understand, it isn't likely we'll get a good show from them this spring. Fingers crossed.

Let's hope we'll be 'third time lucky'. I'll make sure I contact them again this year by September.

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Honorary Membership

Because of their long-term support for the aims and achievements over the life of our Society, the Committee decided to offer Honorary Membership to both Mr. Jack Trickett and Mrs. M. Barker. I'm pleased to report that our offer has been received with pleasure and accepted by both members.

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Committee Meetings

I received a letter from a member requesting permission to attend our committee meetings from time to time. I think it's worth mentioning that this is not a privilege but something which is open to all of you. I replied to the member saying as much, but please do not think that the Committee is somehow separated from you. Believe me, we do not feel we are in any sort of privileged position, and we would welcome input from members even on a casual or one-off basis (i.e. a particular item which interested them). The only thing we would ask is that you warn us beforehand of your wish to attend.

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Township Design Statement

We received an encouraging approach from the Countryside Agency in December on this with an offer of some initial funding. This we subsequently discovered was not what it appeared and, indeed turned out to be apparently some cooked-up scheme to help them spend some remaining cash from their 2000-01 budget. It certainly wouldn't have been any help to the progress of our Statement and was rejected.

We are now seeking 'Awards For All' funding for a project appraisal by the Countryside Agency's consultant, Mrs. Jo Rose. She it was who originally set up the guidelines for such a project which the Countryside Agency now follow. The Committee felt that this was a more considered course of action.

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The Harvey Project

A grant application was made to the Mersey Basin Trust to help towards the improvements to the site, but excluding the work necessary to tidy up and control the line of the stream which regularly floods the area. Unfortunately although they offered some finance, it has had to be declined due to their requirement that it be spent in the present financial year! Bureaucrats....!!

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Vandalised Seat at the Bus Station

This matter is proving more problematical than you would believe. Both the Township Manager's Office and the Councillor most involved to date, have been approached on more than one occasion for either information or help or both and it's like walking through mud up to your knees! To say progress is snail-like would be an exaggeration: it ridicules the speed of a snail which, in comparison is quite quick! Not the most important issue on these peoples' agendas you may think but, in view of the fact that we are prepared to organise the replacement of the seat, a reply in less than three months (yes!) would be helpful.

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Coal Clough Wind Turbines

Last year an application was made to Burnley M.B.C. for a further 3 turbines at this site. All three would be half as tall again as the present ones: a grotesque addition to a site which already disfigures that area. Although the site is outside Littleborough, the impact this or any other such development on the South Pennines, would be damaging in the extreme. As a 'Gateway' to the South Pennines Littleborough would also be affected. Happily, at the time, Burnley councillors ignored their Planning Officers recommendation and threw the application out.

Unhappily an appeal has now been lodged against their decision by the applicant. We have written officially this time to H. M. Inspectorate outlining our objections to the proposal. Apparently it can all hinge on the side of the bed from which the Inspector rose that morning! Seriously, it remains a matter of concern with us that local issues such as this can be over-ruled by people from Down South, who have neither the local knowledge or concern for the opinions of those of us who have to live with their decisions.

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We were pleased to get some information on the matter of bulls and public footpaths from one of our members following the mention of the subject in the last newsletter. The law appears to have changed in recent years and is now somewhat woollier and more complex than was previously thought to be the case. It depends on the type of bull, whether it is alone or with cows and if accompanied by calves as to whether the farmer may or may not place it in a field containing a public right of way.

This doesn't mean you have to swat up on cow-makes before you venture into a field with a bull. It's still down to the farmer to be sure the bull is no threat. The advice would appear to be to exercise common sense, controlling any dogs with you that may upset the animals - cows unaccompanied by a bull, but with calves, can get a bit uppity if they feel threatened.

As said in the last newsletter, any farmer who puts up a 'beware of the bull' sign is either kidding you (and shouldn't do it) or is doing a dangerously illegal act.

Do you want to find out the hard way?

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The Council has been approached regarding replanting trees in Littleborough and certain sites have been suggested. Unfortunately to date the response has been about on a par for any reply from Rochdale M.B.C., although Councillor Evans has taken up the cudgel on our behalf with regard to a particular tree in Lodge Street at it's corner with Victoria Street. Damaged beyond repair during some refurbishment works to the adjacent school, it was promised it would be replaced when the works were completed over two years ago!

Meanwhile we are considering a more substantial replacement of existing trees. All the Manchester Poplars, planted by the Beautiful Littleborough Society in the early part of the last century, are now a little past their sell-buy date. When they were originally planted they would have seemed a good choice: quick growing and resistant to the pollution prevalent at that time. The downside is that they achieve 'old age' at about 50 years and deteriorate from there on, often becoming dangerous. We are inviting the Council's tree officer to one of our meetings in the near future to, hopefully, discuss the problem. Without some sort of initiative the future will become somewhat treeless.

Iain S Gerrard

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Exploring the Pennine Bridleway

In the last edition of the newsletter I described progress on developing the Bridleway. I then posted a guide to the Littleborough section on the LOT website, but since not all readers are yet familiar with internet downloads (!) I thought I'd reproduce it here. It describes a circular route taking in the sections of both main route and Rossendale loop of the Pennine Bridleway which pass through Littleborough. Until the work to upgrade various parts of this route to a bridleway is complete, it remains, legally at least, a walking route. The section between Lydgate and Summit requires considerable improvement before it can be used by horseriders and cyclists.

Start from Littleborough Station Distance 10 miles

Littleborough to Hollingworth Lake.

Leave the station underpass on the Manchester-bound side. If you're on bike or horse, turn right up Hollingworth Road to the lake and turn left at the Fisherman's pub. If you're on foot, cross the road and turn left along the canal towpath. Cross the Canal at the first lock and follow the path in front of the terrace of houses until it joins a macadamed road. Continue along the back wall of the factory and the track then follows a pleasant wooded valley. When the track bends sharply to the left, cross the stream on the flagstone bridge to your right and follow the path alongside the stream. Cross the stream when you come to a timber bridge and follow the path as it joins a track which leads past Hollingworth Lake Visitor Centre. Continue until you meet the road around Hollingworth Lake at which you turn left.

Hollingworth Lake to Lydgate.

Just past the lake overflow channel a track leaves the road on the left by some cottages. Turn left here and you are now on the Pennine Bridleway. Follow the path as it rises past a few houses and a farm before dropping down to Syke Farm. Pass the front of the farm and follow the track past it which rises towards open moorland. Eventually you reach a track along the foot of the moor, where you turn left and keep going. After a while the track is joined by a tarmaced track from the left, but you keep going to the houses in the distance./

Lydgate to Summit

You meet a larger road by a row of cottages and you turn right briefly along this road before looking for a little-used path skirting the left hand side of the hill on your left. This takes you to the A58 road to Yorkshire which you meet by a house. Cross this main road and follow the (at first) muddy track opposite. This winds to left and right before joining a firmer track which you follow to the right, down to a stream and across a stone bridge. The track eventually takes you towards the yard of a farm. (Leeches, now an animal sanctuary) Just before the farm, turn right through a field gate and follow the fence on your left around the back of the farm. Past the farm a more evident track emerges ahead and you follow this across a small stream and then up along the rocky hillside, parallel to Chelburn Reservoir on your left. The path eventually takes you to a track alongside the reservoir dam and you follow this down the hill, through a gate and across the canal, emerging onto the A6033 by the Summit pub.

Summit to Higher Calderbrook

Cross the road at the traffic lights and take the track more or less opposite, up the hill to the right of the houses. After passing some cottages you emerge onto the tarmaced Calderbrook Road. Here the main Pennine Bridleway route crosses the road and climbs the track opposite, heading up the valleyside to your right, northwards into Calderdale. The Rossendale/Mary Townley loop, however, turns left and follows the road for a short while. At a fork, take the newer tarmaced road up the hill to your right and where this road then bends to the right to go through a gate, take the unsurfaced track straight ahead. Follow this track past some cottages, it then becomes tarmaced and after a while turns left, then right, descending past some cottages into Higher Calderbrook. Pass a footpath sign on your right and just before coming to a large, walled de-tached house (a former vicarage), take the track on the right.

Higher Calderbrook to Shore

Follow the track, which eventually takes you past Grimes Farm. Just past the farm another track crosses the path, but the Trail continues, following the wall on your left. The path then turns away from the wall bending right, then left before arriving at a gate in a wall. Go through the gate and follow the path which bends to the right, falls to ford the stream, then bends to the left, climbing the opposite valley-side. Follow the track as it leads past the pointed Ratcliffe Hill. Ignore the track joining through a gate on the left and another track forking away to the left as the Trail swings to the right and past a gate in a wall on the left. The Rossendale loop continues here, but our circular exploration leaves it and turns left through the gate and follows the track to and through Higher Shore.

Follow the setted Higher Shore Road down to the junction beside the King William pub.

Shore to Littleborough

If you're on bike or horse, turn left at the pub and follow Shore Road back to the centre of Littleborough. If on foot, turn left at the pub and then im-mediately right, not down the steeply descending footpath, but along the path just to the left of it which follows the wall behind the house. This path drops gradually down into the stream valley between old beech hedges. In the valley bottom the path crosses a muddy field, aiming for a stile next to the stream in front of some new houses. Turn right along Rosemary Close then follow various paths, always alongside the stream, through the housing estate, until you find yourself walking through a factory yard onto the main road to Rochdale by the Sun pub. Turn right and walk up the road a short way until you see Stubley Lane on your left. Follow this past several old houses, across an¬other track, over a footbridge across the River Roch, up some steps and under the railway, emerging onto the canal towpath. Turn left along the towpath back to Littleborough Station.

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Rochdale Canal News

Since the last Newsletter British Waterways have been working on the Littleborough Flight of locks (from the summit level down to Canal Street), weather permitting, and have got to the point were, come Spring, the canal will be open once again to boats coming from the Yorkshire end. Indeed, British Waterways actually achieved this position by last Christmas when, while work was stopped for the Christmas period, boats could have got through to Littleborough. Of course there were practically no boat movements at that time anywhere on the canal system as a whole, but the achievement was a worthy effort nevertheless.

Pen drawing of Bent House Bridge

Bent House Bridge

Since then the flight has had to be closed again to allow further work to continue, but this was no detriment to the town as work on the Yorkshire side has similarly closed that side of the canal.

The top lock, number 37, has had the top gates reboarded. The lock at Punchbowl, number 40, has had considerable amounts of liquid grout pumped into the stone sides of the lock chamber - it wouldn't hold water, making it somewhat difficult to use! - in fact this work alone took the best part of 3 weeks, going practically non-stop. I don't know how much grout was used but it must have been considerable and makes me wonder how much of a void had been eroded beneath the lockside and possibly even under the road up to Timbercliffe!

Similar work has been done to the last lock of the flight, near to Canal Street (number 48), and has resulted in the temporary lowering of the level between it and Durn Lock. Much work has been done to clear grass and weeds and even shrubs from around most of the 12 locks. Paddle gear has been well greased (watch out if you go by, of necessity it has to be pretty well coated with the stuff!) and now painting of the lock gates and gearing has started. The improvement is good to see and goes a long way towards removing the sense of dereliction which had be-gun to creep back over the last few years.

There is still more work needed but this can now be done as part of the on-going maintenance and shouldn't stop the passage of boats.

So look forward to the appearance of waterborne visitors to the town this summer. I hope the town is ready for them and can offer them something to make their trip here worth-while!

There has been some discus¬sion in the local press re¬cently, mainly from residents ; in the Smithy Bridge area, about the disruption to their orderly lives due to the work to the canal bridge on Smithy Bridge Road. The disruption is undeniable, but the short-sightedness of those who can see no further than this is unbelievable. Not only is it now inevitable that the work will go ahead but when it is finished the gain to the town as a whole will far outweigh the temporary disadvantages of closed roads. Perhaps these same residents should have been more vociferous in objecting to all the new housing which has been allowed in the last few years leading to the inevitable traffic jams we all now have to put up with whether we live in Smithy Bridge or elsewhere?

Iain Gerrard

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Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group

Spring 2001 Walks Programme

The Footpath Group normally offers a bi-weekly Sunday afternoon walk and has done so since the Trust's formation. However, the current Foot and Mouth disease outbreak has resulted in the closure of many footpaths, making it impossible to plan walks. It is with regret therefore that our Spring Programme has been suspended until normal conditions of access to the countryside are restored. If you wish to check whether the walks have recommenced before the next newsletter is printed, contact Joe Taylor on 344711.

For those who aren't familiar with how the path closures come about, the following explanation may help.

A number of 'Infected Areas' have been declared in Britain, centred on farms or other premises where cases of foot and mouth disease have been confirmed. Since the disease is highly infectious and can be carried by more or less anything that moves, the Government has attempted to minimise movement in the vicinity of the outbreaks by requiring local Councils to close public and other paths. Moreover, since under certain weather conditions the disease can be carried in the air, the boundaries of 'Infected Areas' have been drawn to allow for wind-carry. Thus the nearest confirmed outbreaks to us (at the time of writing) near Chorley and Blackburn have 'Infected Areas' which extend to Hawkshaw and Ramsbottom, north of Bury.

Outside of the 'Infected Areas' Local Councils have discretionary powers to close paths to lessen the risk of contact between a carrier of the disease and a suscep¬tible animal. Many Councils have done this to help, as much as they can, keep Foot and Mouth disease out of their areas. Paths which cross agricultural land or near farms have been targeted for closure.

There have been no proposals to close roads in the countryside, so for the time being we have to keep to the tarmac. Perhaps road cycling will increase in popularity!

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Editor: Iain Spencer Gerrard