Photograph: Yellow Flower

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 1998-1999

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


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 autumn edition is required before the 7th September.



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Talking Points

Iain Gerrard begins a new, regular column on current Trust activities.

The Trust Committee would like to involve Trust members more in its discussions and the efforts made to achieve the goals of the Society. A good way to do this seemed to be to give a brief account of the business discussed at its monthly meetings and to invite comments by members on these and other matters. All contributions, whether by telephone or letter, are welcome.

We have recently been concerned about the fast-disappearing stone flag boundary fences once common in the area. Rae Street is keen to list all those remaining, with a view to obtaining some sort of protection for them for the foreseeable future. Anyone knowing of examples would oblige Rae by contacting her with the information.

The above raised another similar issue regarding the remaining stone-arched canal bridges within the Borough, there being six which are virtually as they were when built. These structures look so fundamentally ‘right’, yet are rarely kept, or re-built in their original form when repairs or widenings (to carry larger loads) are performed. It was considered that some attempt should be made to assure their protection. Contact was made with the chairman of the Rochdale Canal Trust who stated that no alterations to the appearance of these bridges is contemplated. Nevertheless, in view of the uncertainties of life, and the many more bridges needing consideration along the whole length of the canal, it was felt that something more might be attempted. The Rochdale Canal Society has been approached (as the most appropriate body to continue this matter) to suggest an attempt be made to obtain grade 2 listing for them.

It will be understood by you that recent events, regarding difficulties in funding the canal restoration into Manchester, have somewhat eclipsed the above in importance. We believe that the funding has now been restored and the work is to proceed soon and quickly.

Cartoon: car approaching dormitory town

Most of you will have been aware of the planning application for a large number of houses between Stubley Mill Road (eastern end) and Stubley Lane. Members of the committee have been following this closely and making suitable comments at the various meetings, including the recent appeal, the result of which is still awaited. The huge number of houses built, in building or proposed for Littleborough is menacing the very identity of the Township as a separate entity from Rochdale and from the Manchester conurbation. The Borough is now seriously threatened with becoming a dormitory town within the sprawl of so-called Greater Manchester; indeed it is felt by some that non-representative (of Littleborough) Councillors in Rochdale, might feel this is acceptable, inevitable and have little concept (or maybe have no concern) for the strength of feeling locally against it. We hope this particular application will be a turning point on this emotive issue - but don't hold your breath! On a general note, some members of the committee feel that government guidelines on new housing and particularly the planning laws themselves are out of touch with present day needs and require fundamental revisions.

The major objection raised to the above-mentioned planning application at the appeal was the considerable increase in traffic on the A58. While much of this might be expected to go in the Rochdale direction, there is already too great a density on this road and a continuing problem is the traffic management through the town centre; this seems impossible to resolve. The town sits astride what is a major trans-pennine route with ever-increasing use by vehicles, many originating outside the borough. Proposals to litter the town with traffic signals appear to have been abandoned for now, but what is the solution? In other (once-separated) small communities, within the adjacent conurbation, similar major roadways have literally split the villages and townships down the middle, such has become the traffic flow. Townships built on rivers suffer less separation; at least you can build bridges over rivers!

Suggestions, humorous or otherwise, welcomed ..... .!


Pens out, please! The thickness of this newsletter is down to the number of people submitting articles for it. Don't be shy - if you have something to say on anything connected with our town (and most people do), please put pen to paper. If you do, the usual suspects who are pestered for contributions will be eternally grateful.

Local Transport Day

For those who missed it, Saturday March 6th was Local Transport Day. To mark the occasion, Rae Street submitted an article to the Rochdale Observer. The Ob’ didn’t take the opportunity offered but here, in edited form, is the article.

Local Transport Day gives a platform for local groups to draw attention to local transport issues and to argue for improvements. There is good reason for doing this on grounds of personal health, reducing pollution preventing climate change and accident prevention. Even the Government in the Road Traffic Reduction Act acknowledges the need to take action.

Mosaic of car silhouettes

The Trust is particularly interested in the serious traffic problem that exists on the A58. In 1994 Rochdale’s Unitary Development Plan admitted that the A58 was ‘at or close to physical capacity‘. The Plan proposed a policy of restraint but this doesn't seem to be applied at the moment and the situation has worsened since 1994 because of the number of new houses built. The Plan talked about ideas such as designating the A58 as an Urban Clearway, improving bus and rail services, building park and ride facilities. None of this has happened. A few pedestrian islands have been built, but the traffic issue hasn't been tackled.

On the railway the Development Plan proposes that three new stations be built at Summit, Belfield and Hopwood. Nothing has happened apart from the rail service becoming less reliable. Littleborough station has no disabled access and only a small draughty waiting shelter. When the staff leave at dinnertime passengers cannot tell how late the train is or if it will arrive at all. There is no public telephone near the station and connections with other rail services are poor, for example there is no connection with the Rochdale to London train.

Some new buses are operating on the 454 and 457 routes but the volume of traffic makes it difficult for the buses to keep on time.

A few brave souls cycle along the A58. What is being done to make cycling conditions more pleasant so that others may be encouraged to leave their cars at home?

Not so very long ago, most primary school children walked to school. It would be good to see schemes set up to encourage more children to walk safely to school.

Some ways forward have already been suggested. We need action and a Forum to continue to identify answers to our increasingly intolerable traffic problems.


Littleborough’s Railway

Chris Wilkinson finds several references to Littleborough in John Marshall 's history of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway

Alan Holt’s article on the Summit Tunnel in the last edition of the Newsletter encouraged me to read up on the construction of the Manchester and Leeds Railway. On the assumption that not everyone in Littleborough Civic Trust will have a copy of John Marshall's book, I thought I'd share some of the points that took my eye.

A Company was set up to build a railway from Manchester to Leeds in 1825 and following survey work and a proposal prepared by Thomas Gooch under instruction from George Stephenson, a Bill was brought to parliament in 1831. Following objections from the Rochdale Canal Company, the Bill was defeated in Committee.

In 1836 a revised proposal was approved by Parliament despite objections again from the Canal Company and various landowners.

Work on the Manchester to Littleborough part of the line began on the 18th August 1837, with a con- tract to the value of £57,000 for the construction of the Littleborough section being let to the firm of Tredwell and Gerrard.

Work started on Summit Tunnel the following year, but due to the slow rate of progress, the contractor was sacked and a new one appointed.

The line from Manchester to Littleborough was opened on the 3rd July 1839 and the first train carried directors and officers to speeches at the entrance to Summit Tunnel and a ‘collation’ at Littleborough. The first public train was the following day when the line carried 3100 people.

The fare from Littleborough to Manchester was 4 shillings First Class, 2/6d Second Class and 1/6d Third Class. The earliest passenger coaches had four wheels. The first class coaches had glazed windows and upholstered seats in compartments. The third class coaches had no roofs or seats.

Initially the line ended at a station on Oldham Road in Manchester. From Sowerby Bridge the line ran through Elland, Brighouse, Mirfield and Wakefield, before joining the line to Leeds from Normanton.

After the Normanton to Hebden Bridge section opened on the 5th October 1840 the journey from Manchester to Leeds included a road coach to carry people from Littleborough past the incomplete Summit Tunnel to Hebden Bridge.

Map of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway

The Wakefield Journal described the opening of the Yorkshire section thus:

‘Very funny but very dangerous doings.

'At the opening last week, at Sowerby Bridge especially, the crowd of people was so great and the rush so alarming that after a brief stay of four minutes it was thought absolutely necessary to cause the train to move on. There being no room in the carriages, the adventurous travellers mounted the tops; but those who could not sit stood upright until the whole of the carriages were covered with a crowd of standers and they thus travelled to Hebden Bridge, stooping down as they passed under the tunnel and the numerous bridges on the line, and then rising and cheering like a crew of sailors to the astonished spectators. We have seldom witnessed a more alarming scene. The train was proceeding at 20 mph and if a single individual had failed to stoop at the moment of passing under a bridge his brains must have been dashed out and the fall of one person must have thrown many others off the carriages to their almost inevitable destruction.

Woodcut of Summit entrance

An early woodcut of Summit West tunnel and the Rochdale canal
by Percival Skelton

In the afternoon at Brighouse many passengers again mounted the roofs. Some shrewd person ordered out a wagon used for the conveyance of cattle in which those on the tops of the carriages were told they might be accommodated. The crews descended and entered the cattle wagon which was crowded to excess, and as soon as this was accomplished the train set off leaving the wagon behind, to the infinite amusement and applause of the spectators.’

The remaining section of line from Littleborough to Hebden Bridge was allowed by the Railway lnspector to open on the 1st March 1841.

The journey from Manchester to Littleborough took 45 — 55 minutes and from Littleborough to Leeds, 2 1/4 hours. The original timetable included 4 trains each way on Sundays. This encountered strong objections from religious bodies and from the chairman of the company's board and two directors, who resigned over it.

It was many years later that the Manchester to Leeds service that we now know, via Halifax and Bradford, came into being.


A letter from Hare Hill Road

Our chairman drags himself away from the epic book project to offer some thoughts on life in the Voluntary Sector

Faced with an editorial deadline and distracted by two line printers chunnering away and demanding paper regularly, these remarks must be on the simple side.

Just a huge thank-you to all Civic Trust members who have ordered a hardback copy or copies of ‘the book‘. The response by members, subscribers and the Patrons and Sponsors in Littleborough have been very heartening. Having said that, can l ask any member or their close friends and relatives who mean to order a hardback copy, but haven't just done it yet to do so as soon as possible. Every copy ordered now does help us keep the price as low as possible. If you lack a form or have any problems, information and order forms are available from George Kelsall‘s book shop, or ring me or Peter Jackson, our treasurer.

Beyond the book there must be life. A look at my pile of deferred Civic trust work seems ample confirmation. With lain Gerrard having accepted the job of Secretary I am hoping to come up with some plan to spread the work throughout our committee of 12 and to members who have special knowledge. There are so many issues currently to be addressed in serious areas such as how regional structures, regeneration, the changing planning process, etc., affect all the things that we do routinely.

Preparing a bid for Millennium Award money in the last two weeks took me back to the formation of the Beautiful Littleborough Society in 1919 and their statement of objectives. One was to plant trees on every road into Littleborough and, if you walk through Shop Wood or up the road towards Summit you can see what they achieved. It is a heartening thought as was their objective to ‘encourage the training of children in the care of flowers and growths’. Not a bad objective!


Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group

Summer 1999 Walks Programme

Sunday 20th June - Pennine Way - Windy Hill - Rough Road (7 miles)
Meet at Roman Road Car Park, Blackstone Edge at 1.45 pm.
Leader: Michael Farrell

Sunday 4th July = Local Walk (4 — 5 miles)
Meet in Littleborough Square at 2.00 pm.
Leader: Kevin Kiernan

Sunday 18th July - Jumbles and Turton Tower Circular (5 miles)
Meet in Littleborough Square at 1.30 pm. Cars to Bromley Cross Station Car Park (2.15 pm.)
Leader: Michael Farrell

Sunday 1st August - Ealees — Owlet Hall — Lydgate - Longley Heys - Leaches Farm - Chelburn - Canal
Meet in Littleborough Square at 2.00 pm.
Leader: Joe Taylor

Please note that dogs are not allowed on these walks.


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Editor: Chris Wilkinson