Boundary Stone showing carved letter L.jpg

Boundary Stone showing carved letter on face

Photograph: Iain S Gerrard

 

Front Cover picture (and above): Can anyone identify this? Where is it or what is it? There is a large R carved into the opposite side to the one shown

 

The Brocken Spectre

Whilst walking above Piethorne Reservoir in late January, this winter, I encountered a very unusual phenomenon in the guise of an extremely excited and exultant full-bearded fell-walker descending rapidly towards me from the direction of Ogden Edge. Fearing that either myself or my ageing lurcher bitch had committed an act of trespass or worse I quickly side stepped, but this only seemed to make him even more animated and determined to engage with me.

Without any pleasantries he demanded "Have you ever seen or heard of the Brocken Spectre?". With my total and complete lack of knowledge of anything so called and thinking that this may be a reference to someone or, worse still, some thing from the other side, I answered in the negative.

Shaking with excitement now that he had found an ignorant victim he assured me that not only was there such a thing but that only ten minutes ago he had seen one and that it had followed him along the brow of Ogden Edge. "Forty years I have waited to see that", he said, and with that he quickly turned away.

Relieved that my dog and I had been let off, I assured him, as he sped away, that I would brave hell and high water to witness this vision of splendour so that I might gain inspiration from my witnessing of it. I instantly conjured up a skeleton clad in ragged anorak and tattered moleskin breeches draped over a stone wall, haunted and tormented by failure to see the "Bracken Spectre".

As soon as I got home I looked up the "Brocken Spectre" with some trepidation, only to find that it is a phenomenon of mountain areas, so named because it was first scientifically observed at Bracken in 1780. Bracken, being the highest peak of the Harz Mountains in East Germany.

The greatly enlarged shadow of the observer accompanied by coloured rings is cast by a low sun upon a cloud bank.

But alas, on the day, by the time I breasted Ogden Edge the clouds had enveloped me in a soaking mist putting paid to any success that morning. With heavy heart I made my way down, but onreflection decided that, never mind perhaps I'd see this holy grail of geographic events another day. After all I may only have to wait another forty years

Ken Pollard

BACK TO CONTENTS     BACK TO CONTENTS

Joint Service Centre

This is the subject of a proposal to build a new centre which will accommodate a number of existing services under one roof. The idea is that the services, which can often be complimentary to each other will be more efficient and, on the economic basis of scale, cheaper to run.

Recent newspaper articles have indicated that the services being considered for inclusion would be the police, the Council offices (presently in Hare Hill Park) and the Medical Centre. The latter is presently situated behind the police station off Featherstall Road; this area as a whole has been identified as a possible site for any new building(s).

The opportunity arose for your committee to invite a representative of the Council to a meeting to hear at first hand what was really going on here. This meeting was held at the Coach House on the evening of Monday the 12th January 2004.

The Council's officer responsible for seeing this project through its initial stages is John Percival, Special Projects Manager in the department of Policy, Partnerships and Regeneration Services. (Which by his own admission is a bit of a mouthful!).

He explained that an initiative from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister held out a good prospect for funding for the town which would not be available otherwise. Any project which would attract this funding however would necessarily have to be related to bringing together a number of public services as described above.

In addition other monies would be made available through the Private Finance Initiative. It gets more complicated doesn't it? I'll try to clarify this.

The P. F. I. is all about bringing private and public finance into a joint partnership to enable the building of new buildings or the refurbishment of existing buildings. The private sector would be responsible for the cost of the building and often the continuing maintenance of the buildings after the initial outlay. This would cover day to day maintenance as well, such as cleaning services, for a period of perhaps 25 years.

It should be emphasised that John Percival, although responsible for putting together the joint package to present to the government, does not have any input into the decisions on which services should be considered for inclusion. It wasn't obvious who would make such decisions but we made it clear that we felt it essential that consultation be maintained with the local community throughout the process.

To date the services suggested are the local police, health service and certain Council customer services including the Library and the Surestart initiative. Here we go again...!

The Surestart service is presently a pilot operation in Littleborough. Its purpose is to improve the lives of families with children aged up to four years old. Unfortunately we have subsequently discovered that the present two year scheme ends in March and there appears to be no more funding available, something of which John Percival was presumably not aware.

The health service part of this is divided into two parts: a primary care trust and the local general practitioner?. A primary care trust covers certain tasks previously carried out by and at the local hospitals, but now done by local doctors and under the same roof. This already applies in Littleborough, so nothing new there.

We were given to understand that both the Littleborough Health Centre and the police are likely to expand anyhow. Indeed the police intend to carry out a considerable amount of refurbishment to their existing building this summer. Why spend the money if a joint service centre is being contemplated? Well this comes from a different pot, the Police Investment Fund, and will be lost if it isn't spent. (I have referred to joined-up thinking and joined-up government before!).

We expressed our concern that Hare Hill House would be possibly abandoned or at least 'left out in the cold!. John Percival accepted that his brief did not cover the effect the project might have on other buildings but Sue Thornton, the Township Manager, who was also present, said that while some council functions would move others would not. Her own department would remain along with certain 'back-room' functions of the Housing Department.

We also said that the present position of the Library should remain, as it was so central. She pointed out that many people presently visited both the Council offices and the Library at the same time and that this convenience would be lost if the Council moved and the library did not.

We expressed our concern that while the new project might offer considerable practical benefits, the importance of the external appearance of any new building should not be ignored. The thoughts and proposals expressed in the Littleborough Town Design Statement needed to be taken on board and the new building should be appropriately designed to fit in with our town.

The matter of car parking was also raised and was clearly going to be a problem. Indeed it was pointed out that it already was a problem in the area and was set to get worse with the proposed expansion referred to earlier.

The question was thrown at John Percival as to whether any consideration had been or could be given to other services than those mentioned, such as a new High School for Littleborough along with a public baths and health fitness centre and the Surestart service. Although these services could be considered it seemed there was a limit to the amount of monies which could be raised and these would be outside that limit. We finally enquired as to the time scale of all this. The reply was a little vague because although John Percival felt his work would need to be completed within the next financial year it would then have to go to the government for approval and he had no idea how long that might take.

All things considered we felt the meeting had been quite informative and that John Percival had been able to explain the present position quite well. There are many issues still needing serious consideration and which were barely touched upon but we feel a littie more confident that, if the Council continue to keep us informed, as promised, they can be resolved.

Iain S Gerrard

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS

Thirty Years On!

Memories of a Working Party member

In the six weeks between mid-June and early August 1972, three members of the recently formed Littieborough Civic Trust were given the task of writing a report. This was to have far-reaching consequences: it led to the establishing of a Country Park at Hollingworth Lake just two years later in 1974 and the setting up of the South Pennines authorities in neighbouring areas of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The work of compiling the report, which called for "A Regional Park for Littieborough, A Country Park at Hollingworth Lake", was carried out by three members of the Trust: Harry Giffin, Geoff Wilson and myself. A number of appendix sections were contributed by local experts and enthusiasts.

These covered:

Under Harry Giffin's leadership the three of us studied traffic movements and parking, picnic and refreshment areas and toilet facilities - or the lack of them, footpaths within the area and access to the network of paths reaching out across the Summit Gorge and links with the Pennine Way. Other areas of informal recreation and one other Country Park in Lancashire were visited. The use made of the lake for sailing and rowing was reviewed and Sea Scout activities at Training Ship Palatine were recorded. Research into the relevant legislation was carried out to establish the criteria for designation a Country Park and gaining access to funding for improving the facilities and providing management of the Park.

Photograph: Parked cars cluttering the landscape

Cars, cars and...

Photograph by Don Pickis

Geoff Wilson, who had lived in the Hollingworth Lake area since the late 1940s, provided us with an invaluable insight into the character of the Lake and its surroundings and of the recreational use made of the area as a whole.

Sunday, the 23rd of July 1972 provided the Civic Trust with a formative experience. Summer, up to that point cool and bracing, suddenly arrived, as did hundreds of visitors, most of them it seemed, by car. Wherever the working party went it was obvious that the Lake was a tremendous magnetic attraction for casual and informal recreation. Parking along Lake Bank, Hollingworth Road, the LJttleborough Tip (now the Visitors' Centre Car Park), Rakewood Road and Cafe Point on the far side of the Lake, was nose to tail and in places were incoming traffic met those trying to leave, gridlock prevailed! Pedestrians and motorists competed for road space: the haphazard mix of cars and people clearly a recipe for conflict and collision.

The case for traffic management within a more formal structure adequately funded to provide the appropriate visitor facilities could not have been put more clearly. The traffic survey carried out on 15th, 17th and 20th August, a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, followed up on the range of visitors and the distances those interviewed were prepared to travel.

The climate for setting up Country Parks was very favourable in the Seventies; as so often is the case timing is everything. The process for achieving Country Park status was not however plain sailing. Located in the Urban District of Littleborough in the County of Lancashire, Hollingworth Lake was in fact administered by the former Rochdale County Borough. Planning responsibility at the time clearly rested with County Hall in Preston, but the application had to be made by Rochdale. The Countryside Commission were initially concerned that a Country Park should be more remote from an industrial site such as the Armour Hess (now Akzo Nobel) chemical works. They were persuaded to change their minds after we had visited Witton Park, an existing Country Park well within the environs of urban Blackburn.

Photograph: Yet more cars littering the landscape

...yet more cars!

Photograph: Don Pickis

The greatest piece of fortunate timing hinged on the Reorganisation of Local Government planned for 1974. Though deplored by many as an unnecessary and expensive bureaucratic exercise, the newly formed Greater Manchester 'County', to be charged with the responsibility for major planning Issues and keen to develop recreational facilities in its area, picked up the Civic Trusts proposals enthusiastically and found the funding to undertake major works. By 1974 the Country Park was a reality and the rest as they say is history.

Littleborough Civic Trust's first and largest environmental project had achieved its aim. Additionally the informed discussions among representatives of a number of neighbouring local authorities were focussed on creating a South Pennines organisation that would lobby for the recognition of the area as meriting a special status as a Regional Park. Two conferences held in Todmorden Town Hall later in the 1970s to promote the recreational potential of the region helped in establishing the special identity of the area bounded by the conurbations of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire. Though a special status of a Regional Park has never been recognised by the Countryside Commission (now the Countryside Agency), SCOSPA (Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities) exists to support the development of recreation and tourism and the rural economy of the South Pennines.

Don Pickis

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS

Retiring Treasurer

Photograph: Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Photograph: Iain S Gerrard

In 1992 I had to retire completely on health grounds upon which I joined the Civic Trust, then at the AGM in 1993 was elected on to the committee. In the Oct/Nov of that year Jeff, the then treasurer, retired. I had a word with him and realised that the accountancy GCEI had attained was enough to carry out this duty. At the next committee meeting I put myself forward and was voted on as treasurer.

Looking back, what can I say I have achieved for the civic trust as treasurer? As it is often a background role it is an essential one, to be entrusted with someone else's money and keep tabs on its movement is not something I have not taken lightly, so what then could I give?

At my first year end I realised that perhaps it was time for the accounts to go 'modern' so in January 1994 I raised the subject of putting the accounts on the computer. After questions were answered I was given a proviso to start and report progress to committee before a final decision was made. For several months I played around with different formats, account methods had change somewhat since I took my GCE so I updated in the process. Eventually I was ready with a profile of the new system so took it along before the committee. Bulls eye, first time. Committee accepted my proposed changes. The accounts were now electronic.

It took till the end of 1994 to finally secure a decent set of accounts when I did the year end. At the following AGM they were accepted by the membership so Peter was a "happy bunny".

Of course computers don't stand still so the format now is that when you enter an item in the accounts it transfers that figure to the 'year end' sheet and then to the balance sheet in some cases. This now makes the year end an easier task as it builds up as the year progresses so only minor work is required, aren't these Chinese clever, eh!?

In its way it was a lot of fun with trial and error all through but I enjoyed myself too, so it wasn't an arduous task. Now I could sit back awhile, or so I thought. One day in 1996 (can't remember just when) the phone rang and John Street asked me to go and see him. How are you fixed with helping to put together a grant application for a book? After discussion I agreed and went along to the meeting at John's with five other people to put the application together. As you know we were successful, a grant of 22,000, "The Story of Littleborough" was off the ground (so to speak).

It was a tremendous pleasure to work on the book, not only as its treasurer but also in research. One of my passions is history, so this opened up avenues in the field and John was generous in the research that he gave and I enjoyed every minute of it spending quite some time at the Local Studies Library (now Touchstones) in Rochdale. The end result of course is history itself now, but what a tremendous effort on many peoples part in its production. There were hitches, setbacks etc. but the end result stole the day and I am proud to have been involved.

Following the book has come a major project for Littleborough as a town, the Town Design Statement of which I took on as treasurer in assisting in obtaining the grant with J. Street and I. Gerrard. At this point in time the first stage is nearing completion, which I shall complete then hand over to Joan Smith for stage two. I don't want this to become boring, so I hope the above will suffice as an overlook of my time as treasurer. At this point I would welcome Joan Smith as your new treasurer and wish her every success for the future and the future of the Civic Trust. I have enjoyed my time very much as treasurer but time moves on for us all. I have been involved with the CMC Fire Service Museum now since 1997 and being unable to do manual tasks there I undertook archive work as every item is indexed for insurance. We have now had installed a computer to enable all the museum artefacts to be better recorded and this is my new venture which will take some time to complete.

Alongside this is my music, something I have been involved in from the age of six. When I retired I took up music lessons again to learn composition, arranging and transposition. Through the Open University I eventually gained my Diploma of Music (DipMus) but was unable to gain my music degree due to my health but I am happy that I gained the diploma. I have now completed several compositions etc. in copyright and will be concentrating more on the musical aspect in my retirement. My tutor is the musical director of a choir in Oldham and I have arranged for them and transposed a number of items for them, for which they have been grateful, so I'll be looking at continuing this area too.

Well all that is left is to wish the Civic Trust every success in its future ventures while I sit in the background as a member. God Bless You All.

Peter Jackson.

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS

Littleborough Civic Trust & Hollingworth Lake Country Park

Some recollections on the birth of the country park on its 30th anniversary in 2004.

Some thirty three years ago, (1971), a group of people in Littleborough had the idea of forming a local Civic Society - to be a branch of the national Civic Trust whose aims were, among others, to promote civic pride, to promote high standards of planning and architecture and to preserve and protect features of historic and public interest. The founder members were Betty and Don Pickis, Derek Jefferson, Ron Taylor and Keith Parry. Keith put a notice in Parry's Shoe Shop window (where Jackson's shop is now on Hare Hill Road) inviting interested parties. We met together and we got going. Very early in discussions, the question of the Lake came up. Recent comers soon learnt from those who had been bom and bred in Littleborough that the Lake and surrounding areas had been a 'pleasure ground' for over 100 years.

This was a most important part of Littleborough's history and heritage. Indeed it was known to the mill workers on both sides of the Pennines as T'Weighvers'Seaport. But by the 1970's the Lake area had become shabby, litter strewn and jammed with traffic on high days and holidays. One of the main footpaths to the Lake came through Ealees valley past an open, local authority, rubbish dump. You had to fight your way through the rubbish and poly bags to reach the lakeside. On a fine sunny Bank Holiday, the traffic would be grid-locked around the Lake and back down on to Halifax Road.

What could we, in the newly formed Civic Trust, do to improve the situation? It occurred to one of our members that a way forward would be to get the Lake and an area around it designated as a Country Park. We would need to form a Sub-Committee and prepare a Report to send to the Countryside Commission. So we met and discussed and put our thoughts in writing over many long evenings until, in 1972, the report was ready.

I can most easily remember highlights of those discussions by remembering the personalities involved. Firstly I remember our meticulous Secretary, Don Pickis, who made visits, who looked into the legislation, who contacted the Countryside Commission. When the letter's representative came to visit, he pronounced, "But this can never be a Country Park, you can see mill chimneys from the Lake Bank."

Don responded, "That is exactly why we think this area should be a Country Park, because we are in reach of one of the largest urban areas in Britain. It does already provide hearts and lungs for recreation, but it should be improved and certainly would be with Country Park status."

We pursued the idea. We didn't always meet with local sympathy. Some thought we should leave well alone; a view unfortunately echoed in the pages of the Rochdale Observer. They believed that to have Country Park status and paid wardens would only mean increased bureaucracy and 'jobs for the boys'. Others thought a 'park' meant amusement park and suggested paddling pools and a fun fair. Admirable as those suggestions may have been, that was not what we saw as a 'country' park. We wanted people to be able to appreciate the countryside, the surrounding moors, to walk the network of paths around the Lake and enjoy the views of the stretch of water in its upland surroundings.

So we persevered. One of our strongest supporters was Geoff Wilson, the local dentist, who had lived in Rochdale all his life and at that time lived at Bib Knowl behind the Lake. Geoff loved all sorts and kinds of antiques: his garage was a treasure trove of everything from old bikes to a full size melodeon. For us his love of maps was invaluable. He went to the County Record Office and produced copies of all available maps of the area. I remember especially his sense of fun - he would talk history when drilling your teeth. He put extraordinary energy into the project: he wrote a history of the Lake, walked all the footpaths and helped conduct a traffic survey.

Another local person who just loved the area was Rita Kay who for years kept the Civic Trust minutes. She and her husband, who later became Park warden, lived in a house at Rakewood which had once been a pub. Rita was very observant and loved every flower and stick and stone. She alerted us to, and never let us forget, the stone bridge over the quarry beside the road to Hollingworth Fold. We nicknamed it Rita's bridge.

Keith Parry, born in Littleborough, researched the history of the Lake and Canal, and in due course wrote a book, did sketches for cards and illustrations for footpath leaflets. We soon had three walk guides which provided the basis for the walks which are so well used today.

Through these, and the maps, I became fascinated by the history of the development of this man-made Lake. Always loving trees, I remember being delighted by the Victorian plantings, for example, in the pleasure gardens on the far side of the Lake, where today there is a tea pavilion and children's playground. On the map, it referred to the 'black fir' plantation. You can see those fir trees there and the rhododendrons to this day. The drain which followed the contours of the hill from the pumping station at Bear Hill to Summit and was supposed to have water running in both directions was also intriguing. I remember one warm summer evening walking the whole length up to Summit with Alan Ashworth, a local historian and keen rambler.

We all wanted to see the network of footpaths cared for, but none more than John Hindle. He had been a founder member of the Civic Trust and its Footpath Group. He was vigilant in making sure every inch of public footpath was kept open. He was a doughty advocate for the footpaths group; no blockage on a Lake path escaped his notice.

A later joiner to the group was Harry Giffin. But once his enthusiasm was aroused he put in enormous work. For example, it was Harry who was responsible, by being insistent in committee, that the Lake Information Centre be built in stone and sympathetic local materials. In the end we achieved a fitting 'Pennine' style design from the Rochdale Borough Architects' Department.

The Civic Trust Patron, then Joel Barnett, now Lord Barnett, who had been MP for Littleborough, was very enthusiastic about the project and gave us every help. In the spring of 1978, he planted an oak tree outside the Information Centre to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. As oaks do, it has flourished and is even a delight in winter when it keeps its dry, brown leaves.

Betty Pickis, another founder member of the Trust, worked hard in many roles: in the 1980's she was Chairman and also undertook to organise social events some of the most memorable being held in the new Lake Information Centre where we would host exhibitions and meetings with other groups. Like many of us she railed against the modern blight of litter an organised us into teams to get out and pick up other people's rubbish. So no-one was more pleased than Betty, with the advent of the Country Park, at least in one large area of Littleborough, with the attention of the Country Park rangers, we had a (nearly) litter-free-zone. It was she too who chivvied the Council into repairing the stone wall alongside Hollingworth Road. It is fitting that the memorial tree to Betty flourishes alongside the ponds in Ealees valley.

George Kelsall and his wife Lynne, who had lived in the area all her life, loved the area too. At the time of the Civic Trust report, before the famous bookshop, George was working as a local authority architect, but already beginning to collect books on old Littleborough and the Lake. He and Lynne were living in Ealees and planting trees along the old paved 'packhorse' way through the valley.

Hollingworth Lake Visitors' Centre

Hollingworth Lake Visitors' Centre

Photograph: Rae Street

Our discussions in the Civic Trust sub-group ranged over what would be the exact area of the Park. We fairly easily came to conclusions on boundaries, but we had much more difficulty trying to work out how to regulate the traffic. We knew we wanted to keep the walk around the Lake traffic free, but where were we to put the car parks? We finally came up with the solutions which are there today.

One problem we faced - and it hasn't been solved to this day. How would we separate the pedestrians from the traffic on the side of the Lake along the dam, past Bear Hill towards Rakewood? We thought of putting in an extra footpath along the field side, but it was never accepted. Nor was there enough money made available to build an extra walk way, 'promenade', on the lake side as we proposed around Lake Bank. Thirty years later, there is the absurd situation that in a Country Park where walking is a prime part of the recreational activities to be enjoyed, there is still no safe route for families, children, babes in push chairs, wheel-chairs, the older, the younger, on that stretch. Our report was submitted in 1972. After many meetings with the local authorities (which weren't going along too well), in 1974, a new tier of local government was created: the Greater Manchester County Council. They had new officers who were enthusiastic about Country Parks and the Country Park status for Hollingworth Lake was soon approved. It was Robert Maund, and his team at the County Council, who were really responsible for the Lake being transformed into a Country Park. It was the first in a group of similar developments across the county, including Daisy Nook in Tameside and the transformation of the coal tips in Wigan. Suddenly, things moved quickly and the Park was opened in 1974, although the Information Centre was not opened until 1977.

We have continued our association with the Park and with the help of the wardens we have also kept up our aim to plant more trees in Littleborough. This is not least because years ago, the forerunner of the Civic Trust, the Beautiful Littleborough Society, planted, in the 1920's, tens of Manchester poplars, because they were 'foresf trees, which grew quickly and withstood the pollution. This kind of poplar, as trees go, has a short life -about 70 years - and they are now all dying across Littleborough. We must replace them.

This year we have been greatly helped by the 'tree-enthusiastic' staff at the Lake. One of the pleasures during the 30 years for the Civic Trust has been working with the staff at the Lake, from working with the first Warden, George Garlick, and his successor, Eleanor Dale, and the many other wardens and rangers.

The Beautiful Littleborough Society was established by Gordon Harvey, one of the most successful of the late 19C early 20C mill owners, in Littleborough. He was an early 'environmentalist', having trees planted, landscaping around his mills and introducing a Bill into Parliament "to reduce the heavy smoke pollution around the factories." We think he would have been delighted with the present day Country Park.

To use a tree image, the seed set by the Trust grew well. We hope it will continue to grow and give pleasure for the next thirty years and beyond.

Rae Street

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS


Thinking Points


January Open Meeting

At our public open meeting in January, Graham Dalley and Dave Johnson, members of the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, gave a spirited and amusing talk covering all aspects of their work in relation to keeping the local uplands safe for all.

I'm not sure what we expected when we invited them to speak to us: perhaps a couple of blokes with some reasonable and sensible equipment for walking over the moors such as flashlights, warm and waterproof clothing, some sustenance and water etc. Well that was the least of it!

It was difficult to believe as the talk went on that these people are volunteers...! Their equipment covered collapsible stretchers, drugs and the means to administer them i.e. hypodermic syringes, special splints which could be pumped up once in place to hold a damaged hiker tightly while they got him or her off the hill and much more. Obviously too much for one or two men to carry and indeed when they are searching for someone it was clearly a matter of teamwork.

It was a worthwhile evening's entertainment that left us with a feeling that we were better protected when out walking than we had previously realised. That all this is done without any official financial help led us to donate 25 to their work.

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS

Canal Wharf Buildings

This is a sad affair all told. The canal wharf buildings, a part of Littleborough for more than the last 150 years, will have been demolished by the time you read this. Some may feel that they were old, derelict and well past their sell-buy date. Others were inclined to feel that buildings that have survived so long deserved more care and consideration before being summarily pulled down at someone's careless whim.

It had been hoped that they would eventually be refurbished and an important and central point of the Canal Street, Ealees regeneration. Should it have proved impossible to integrate them into a scheme economically, even with grant funding because of their heritage value, we could not have argued for their preservation. But this is not the case.

Information is thin on the ground at the moment and may be incorrect. Apparently 'someone' complained to the Council that the buildings were in a dangerous condition with 'bits falling onto the towpath'. I'd dearly like to know where this piece of misinformation came from as I've walked past them weekly for the last nine years without any evidence of this. Some Council officer then slapped a demolition order on all the buildings despite their antiquity and importance to the site as a whole. We desperately need some restraint on this kind of action which can occur without any consultation with the people who live here. There is a degree of suspicion that the situation may have been contrived. After all if the buildings were dangerous why were people still allowed to pass close to them along the canal towpath without any attempt at protection and why were they able to be left standing until the stone could be sand blasted for resale?

Attempts were made by Committee members to see if the work could at least be paused until we could establish some sort of rational approach but to no avail. Information was sent down to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to try to get the buildings spot listed, but it simply was taking too long. Seemingly, when a report in the local newspaper gave the matter some prominence it drove the contractor to work over the weekend to ensure the buildings were damaged beyond reasonable repair before anyone could achieve such a stoppage.

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS


Trees

The planting of new trees to replace the old and dying ones at Cleggswood Avenue was recently carried out with great enthusiasm and expertise by the Council. On hearing from Rae Street that we wished to do this they practically took over from us - no grumbles about that of course, as we're thin on the ground when it comes to shovelling and we need all the help we can get. On the same dav they proceeded to replace the two alders on Railway Street which had never seemed to take well and had died.

We also managed to plant more whips, some home grown but most supplied by Hollingworth Lake Visitor's Centre, at Fothergill's cricket field and across the canal along the edge of the football field. You may recall we put about five moderately sized whips in there last winter and four of these have survived despite animal predation and vandalism.

Finally we managed to get some more whips from the Visitor's Centre the following weekend and these were planted at and around Bent House Lock. These were mainly hawthorn and blackthorn and given half a chance, should be able to defend themselves as well as the adjacent oaks we planted last year and which are still surviving well.

The next speaker we have asked to address the membership at our AGM, will be telling us about the proposed Pennine Edge forest to be. I don't know a great deal about it at this stage but it is, I believe, intended to stretch along the eastern edge of the Manchester conurbation. This would match the Red Rose forest which has been slowly growing in size for some years now to the west of the conurbation.

More parochially and to return to Littleborough, there is a perceived need hereabouts, but simply either not admitted or denied by Rochdale Council, that we should have more control over our local matters. We need more shops, more entertainment and more schools all within the borough - Littleborough's borough boundary. This would eventually lead to a reduction in the need to travel and ease the congestion on the roads. But this will take time. After all Rochdale and the National Government have been ruining this and many other small communities for thirty years or more. In the meantime there should be a moratorium on all house building hereabouts while the present mess is properly sorted.

Iain S Gerrard

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS

Refuse Collection

A recent proposal by our Council Refuse department was to cease to carry out the collection of ordinary household waste from properties on the so-called 'farm' runs. These are usually along country lanes which are unmade. The idea seemed to be that individuals should take their wheelie-bins or black plastic sacks full of rubbish to the nearest collection point i.e. a tarmacadamed road.

You might wonder what this has to do with the Society and I won't go into the arguments put forward for this proposal here, interestingly obtuse and ill-thought out though they are.

We are of course concerned about litter. There is already a great deal of thoughtless fly-tipping carried on in the present circumstances. What would be the result if the decision had been made to go along with this proposal? Some of the properties affected are hundreds of yards (metres if your prefer) if not a mile or more from any metalled road. I think the temptation would be to dispose of rubbish slyly and who could blame anyone for this? After all what do we pay council tax for?

There was also the question of where the bins or bags should be left. Those living on the roads at the ends of these unmade lanes would find a collection of rubbish close to their houses every week. Great! What a grand idea! I have to put in here that my opinion is that the introduction of wheelie-bins, a good idea compared to conventional bins, was spoiled by the simultaneous decision to expect all households to place their bins at the edge of the road for collection. What a mess! For six days in every week there are bins visible on our streets and roads in at least a sixth of the area of our town. Any savings on collection costs simply don't take this ugliness into account.

Iain S Gerrard

BACK TO CONTENTS    BACK TO CONTENTS


Editor: Iain S Gerrard