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


Judith Schofield, 4, Bottoms, Crag Vale. 01422 885173
Don Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Betty Pickis, Lightowlers. Tel. 378849.
Rae Street, Calder Cottage. Tel. 378043
Joe Taylor, 136a Market Street, Whitworth. Tel. 344711


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 8th September.



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Talking Points

Iain Gerrard reports on topics discussed at recent Committee meetings.

Happily our efforts to stop the ‘annexation’ of the Fire Station's land by the Fire Service itself have been successful and the proposal has been modified to accommodate our concerns. It has to be said that the Fire Service was very amenable and understanding, once those involved with the proposed changes were made aware of the worries of the local people.

The land to the south of Littleborough Cricket Club car park has been a long running on-off saga. Its status and ownership appear to be unknown quantities and attempts have been made in the past to find out what and who they are, but to no avail. It was decided that an exceptionally determined effort be made to crack the mystery once and for all and we have begun enquiries to find the owner or owners. Should we be successful this time round we would like to make something of the land for the good of the community. At the moment it is sadly derelict and litter strewn - indeed it was one of the areas we considered for the April litter-pick.

Talking of which, where the heck were you all on the 2"° of April when four of us - yes FOUR! — turned up in the centre of Littleborough to clear the rubbish left around the car park and its environs. It was a perfect day for the job, wet, windy and grey; I really can't understand what you all found to do with yourselves on Mother's Day that was more interesting than grubbing about in the undergrowth (sorry — shrubbery): picking up bottles, cans, wet paper and plastic, car camshafts (yup, believe it or not!), shovels (we took home more than we came with) and the other detritus of our careless throwaway age. See what you missed? Don't let it happen again! We filled around twelve plastic sacks, which were subsequently removed by the Refuse Department. You could see the difference when we had finished - at least you could if you didn't blink: a week later everything was back to normal!

Those of you who ‘get up on top’ in your walks, may have seen the improvements to the Warland reservoir dam wall. I misuse the word purposely, because some people may feel that the work, which has been carried out, is an improvement. Not us I trust. The original wall was in poor condition and required a severe looking-at. Unfortunately the Water Authority, well known in the past for building and maintaining extremely good stone walls, decided to remove three-quarters of it completely and replace it with the most utilitarian of fences. Not only has this decision replaced an item of our countryside, which fitted in well with its surroundings (the Pennine Way runs alongside it), but the fence is unattractive and inappropriate in appearance and offers much less protection than the wall did, both in saving people from falling into the water (a child or a dog would have no problem) and from the elements, which as the walkers among you will know can be pretty elemental up there on occasions.

Paul Simpson, from Rochdale M. B. C., was invited to and attended our meeting in April, to give us what information he had on the current review of Rochdale's UDP (Unitary Development Plan). You will recall the article in our spring issue on this matter by John Street, in which he described what the review was about and how it affected us all. Mr. Simpson explained that following the public consultations (which we attended) and the submissions of the views of interested parties (including our own), there would be a meeting on the 1st of June, by a panel of officers. These would agree some general objectives to put to the Council's Policy Committee on the 19th of June, which would endorse or amend them.

Following this meeting, officers would work to put together a revised Plan for the end of this year, which would be published as a ‘deposit’ version in June 2001. This is the point at which the public can comment or object to any of the proposals. Any unresolved objections would go to a public enquiry and the publication of a second ‘deposit draft‘. Final adoption of this revised UDP would, hopefully, occur in mid-2003. When asked how Rochdale's housing targets were to be decided, he said that the new Regional Assembly would be responsible for this. (Let us hope they take a more sympathetic view of local requirements than the Government has done in the last few years!).

The matter of ‘sustainability’ was raised and he said he hoped for greater land assembly powers. (one of the present problems with the use of ‘brownfield sites’ is the fragmentary nature of the ownership of adjacent sites —if the Authority was given powers to bring these together under one ownership it could make these larger sites more attractive). There was considerable interest in how the South Pennines Heritage Strategy would be incorporated and he appeared to indicate that it could become Supplementary Planning Guidance. (These are additional planning requirements, approved by the Authority, for particular subjects, or areas of the Borough) Questions on whether planning applications would be decided in accordance with the Plan, and whether Mineral and Waste policies would be enforced, were answered more as a personal hope than a reassurance that this would be a matter of policy, but overall we felt he had been helpful and as unequivocal as he could be.

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A note for those interested in the countryside: The Council for the Protection of Rural England are attempting to set up a Rochdale branch and a slide presentation is to be given at the Littleborough Community Centre on Wednesday, the 27th of June, starting at 7:30 pm.


A Design Statement for Littleborough

John Street shares his thoughts on what the Trust’s next major project could be.

As our book project is now complete and has proved very successful, the path is open to consider a new major initiative for the Littleborough Civic Trust. Although there are a number of steps before a final decision is made it seems useful to outline the current favourite option for comment and ideas from our members.

Currently there is a growing activity, promoted by a group of Local Authorities in the South Pennines under the banner of SCOSPA (Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities). Rochdale M.B.C. is a member. Over many years they have been building up the case for a real identity of the South Pennines which will attract national and international funding. The basis for this identity includes many aspects of what we are familiar with and have put in 'The Book’ starting with the evidence of early man and peaking with the industrial revolution Their current activity (one of many) is to produce a book that defines clearly ‘A Heritage Strategy for the Southern Pennines' which would be the basis for major lottery and European funding applications. The new initiative proposed for your society is that we should produce a Littleborough Township Statement which would support and illustrate most of the principles outlined in this book (now at the proof reading stage).

If we could produce such a design statement of high quality it would make a real contribution to the SCOSPA project and as a totally community -based project, probably along with two or three more from else- where in the Pennines, would make a key part of any bid for funding. If we decide and start soon, we will be the first to do work on this scale and there is the possibility of a direct spin-off to Littleborough. Such work could be considered by our own Authority as eligible to act as supplementary planning guidance to the Unitary Development Plan in our area. This is the plan which guides our officers when considering such key issues as house building, education, road transport etc.

However, key to the community who live here now is the fact that the statement will address the many local things we care about most. It will state what the community wants and can stand as powerful evidence to prevent, for example, unwanted commercial exploitation of the moorland behind our town by such dubious means as more pylons or great numbers of wind machines. It can outline what building materials and what kinds of buildings are considered best for each part of our area and can list the important structures that have value and should be preserved. These can include our open spaces, our flagged walls and old bridges and buildings and put alongside them only developments that can genuinely claim to be examples of modern good practice. Throughout history we have always been a ‘gateway’ to the South Pennines and Yorkshire; a design statement will provide strong protection to the people who live here now that their concerns and wants will be given a high priority when change is proposed. On the other hand it is true that we live in an attractive place and the scenery, buildings and facilities are held in trust for enjoyment by everyone. It is this multiple responsibility which makes the clear statement of what is right, desirable and agreed as good practice so important.

The creation of such a design statement would be a community effort but we must seek benign help from our Local Authority in terms of access to material, an Authority viewpoint and access both to facilities and if possible some money.

The project would be modelled on what we learned during the creation of ‘The Book‘. It would be chaired by Littleborough Civic Trust with a guiding group of 6 or 7 people each with a responsibility for an area but who are willing to contribute to all aspects. All members will be from our community. The estimated time frame for the project is two years and the two major outcomes would be a contribution to the SCOSPA work and to our own local planning activities.

This is an ambitious proposal although there are already a number of examples of smaller projects that have been rated as successful: one fairly widely known example is a fine piece of work called The Oxenhope Village Design Statement. lf our project produced a quality output alongside others, it could make a major contribution to the success or other- wise of the applications for funding to European Sources and to our various Lottery entities and as noted could aspire to making a real contribution directly relevant to the local planning and regeneration projects.

Why should the Littleborough Civic Trust do this and why in this way? Firstly the activity aligns very closely with the brief in our Constitution of why we exist. Secondly there is little dispute that such community based initiatives are much more likely to attract funding than say, commercially supported projects. Finally, once again it will be a project that our whole community can contribute to and a forum in which their opinions can be heard and given serious consideration.

ln the project we would seek three major partners; Rochdale M B C, SCOSPA and the South Pennines Association (the community arm of SCOSPA). All are currently aware of the possible project and to varying degrees are evaluating it.

Because it is ambitious can we succeed? Think of our work on the Steanor Bottom Toll House, the Hollingworth Lake Park, the Coach House and now The Book. We can dare to go forward if once again we involve everyone in Littleborough, find a good core of workers, nurse the support of our Authority and embed the results into the community. Finally this makes the project everyone's property. Since the aims are important and address a real need we can be excited.

Acknowledging that this is a brief report, we would be pleased to have any thoughts and suggestions, or criticisms and certainly would like to hear if you feel a desire to be involved. Please write or speak to me or any of the committee members.


Littleborough profits from ‘The Book’

Peter Jackson and John Street bring good tidings for local charities.

As your Treasurer it gives me great pleasure to inform everyone that The Littleborough Civic Trust have paid the millennium project (book production) costs in full, just 4-5 months following the publication of the book last November. That's the serious bit done, now for the lighter side.

For me, it has been a privilege to work alongside the two Johns, Chris and George and Tom Warburton although there were moments of doubt as to whether we would be ready in time. ‘O ye of little faith" was a phrase that sometimes came to mind, faith, not just in God, but more in ourselves and our capabilities of collective "skills" as laymen.

There were days when the 'phone would be ‘red hot‘ and frequently one being from John Street. "Peter" he would say, and l knew from the tone of his voice that some research, copying or other related task was going to be requested. For 2-3 years this was the scene and being restricted with my disabilities I was never asked to do anything beyond my physical capabilities. Fortunately being a retired fireman and being a member of the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum based at Maclure Rd, Rochdale, I already knew Pam Godman (John her husband was Station Officer at Chadderton where I served) at the Rural Resource and Archive Library in Rochdale. Pam, was a mine of local information to us for which we are extremely grateful.

Now on to the most pleasant part of this article which concerns you my friends. At the outset of the project it was decided that any excess proceeds from sales of the book would be donated to LOCAL charities. Now it is time to commence this part of the project. A few avenues for choosing which charities should benefit have been discussed but finally it was felt that it would be right for YOU, the membership, to select those charities in Littleborough who you felt should rightfully benefit.

A sum in excess of £2000 will be available to distribute to nominated charities that are accepted; thus completing the millennium project.

We need your requests; remember please, only LOCAL charities. Post, send by pigeon, ‘phone or deliver your request to myself (‘phone number and address on inside front cover) as SOON AS POSSIBLE, please. All we need is a brief note on the local charity of your choice using one sentence for its name and aims and another with a contact name and/or 'phone no. for the charity should the committee want to make further enquiries. The awards to charities will be made one of the highlights at an event being organised by Littleborough Civic Trust, Littleborough Historical Society and the Canal Society for the last Saturday in November, the 27th. PLEASE BOOK THIS DATE IN YOUR DIARIES as all members will be invited. Further details of the evening will be provided at a later date.

Finally friends, this is a chance for you to assist the Trust in a practical, constructive way to support local charities. Finishing the book for the Millennium was a fantastic achievement. Help us to complete the year 2000 ‘in style’ with a meaningful gift to charities, all based on an idea first floated back in 1995/6.


A good send-off

On the 31st May, Gill Roberts hosted a gathering of past and present women members of Littleborough Civic Trust. The occasion was to wish Anne Lawson well in her new life on the very foreign shores of Bolton. Anne has (with a short break) been on the Committee of the Trust for 14 or 15 years and in her leaving, we loose a hardworking member, who has, amongst other things, been Minutes Secretary and Newsletter Editor. Appreciation was offered in the form of a gift voucher for Marks and Sparks.


Another year, another invitation to be, or continue to be a member of Littleborough Civic Trust, In other words, there are still some subscriptions outstanding. Our Membership Secretary would like to hear from you.


Putting one foot in front of the other

Chris Wilkinson wonders what reason you might need for going for a walk.

Walking may not be a very unusual recreational pursuit in this part of the world. However, common though it may be, the reasons we do it are not always be the same.

Perhaps some historian will correct me on this, but I've always believed that walking as we think of it today developed its popularity in the first half of the 20th Century. Traditionally, people would, on a Sunday, swop the grime and crowds of city life for the space, peace and cleaner air of the surrounding countryside. Whilst we still appreciate the air and the peace, nowadays there are a host of other reasons for stepping out in the open spaces.... like shopping and building children's play areas!

When you are fairly familiar with the local countryside, it is easy to develop favourite routes (such as attractive paths, or those that avoid the more ferocious of the dogs which most farms seem to need). Now, a good person would never tire of a particular route in that there would always be something different to see; a different flower at a different time of year, the way things look different in changing light conditions.

Well, call me shallow, but I think it's nice to try and vary routes — and reasons for using them too. So, of late, we've decided to combine walking and shopping. The idea is that you walk to the shops by an interesting route and then get the bus or train home. The possibilities are many.

The shortest excursion for us would be along the canal, or past Town House into Littleborough, However, we've also been to Todmorden Market via Warland and Gadding’s Reservoirs and also via Turn Slack, Inchfield and Gauxholme. Then there's Hebden Bridge via the Pennine Way and Erringden Grange, or via the Hinchliffe Arms in Cragg Vale and Bell House Moor.

I can feel a book coming on; ‘Shopping Walks around Littleborough - good for you and good for the environment'. Anybody want to make an advance subscription’?

And then there's the matter of play areas.

Woolworths have a fund-raising project called ‘kids first’. This year Rochdale Woolies staff decided to raise money to build a new play area at a Rochdale Special School by doing a sponsored walk up Ben Nevis. For some reason (i.e. happening to live with a teacher from the chosen school) I was recruited to help demonstrate the school's appreciation and support for the walk.

Unfortunately, or by good planning (depending on how you look at it), by the time we got involved, the Glen Nevis youth hostel, where the Woolies staff were staying, was full and we had to slum it in a B & B down the road. So, we promptly upset the proprietor by asking for a 7.15 breakfast and at 8 a.m. met our party, outside the youth hostel and raring to go.

I was interested to see how well prepared they were. A leader and back marker with walkie-talkies, compass bearings worked out in advance, stoves for boiling water. I realised how wise this was when we discovered that some of the party had trained for the expedition by taking a walk on Southport beach. After half a mile and with the path getting steeper, two people decided that they had an urgent appointment at the Edinburgh Wool Shop in Fort William and disappeared.

The rest of us continued up what is known as the ‘tourist path’. It's easy to see why it's called that. The mountain attracts a stream of badly equipped would-be conquerors, wearing shorts and trainers. People forget that ‘The Ben’ has snow on top for most of the year, that for at least 9 days out of 10, the top is covered in cloud and that there is no café.

To cut the story short, we got to the top and back safely, despite the snowstorm (on the 28th May !) and were nearly at the bottom, 7 hours later, when the rescue helicopter arrived to winch somebody behind us off the mountain.

So, well done Woolies staff. You deserved to be blottoed at the Fort William Curry House 5 hours later. As for us, we were looking forward to the following day's 6 Munroes and 11 hour trek. But that's another story.


Littleborough Civic Trust Footpath Group

Summer 2000 Walks Programme

Sunday 18th June Clough - Ringing Pots - Reddyshore (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 2.00 pm
Leader: J. Taylor

Sunday 2nd July Whirlaw - Rodwell - Cross Stones (5.5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.40 pm or Todmorden Health Centre car park at 2.00 pm.
Leader: G. Sutcliffe

Sunday 16th July Pennine Way - Cloven Stone - Turvin Road (6 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 2.00 pm.
Leader: K. Kiernan

Sunday 30th July Stubley - Starring - Shore - Townhouse (5.5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 2.00 pm.
Leader: J. Taylor

Sunday 13th August Strinedale - Shiloh - Tamecroft (5 miles)
Meet at Littleborough station car park at 1.3O pm or Bishop Park top car park (Grains Bar) 2.00 pm.
Leader: M. Farrell

Sunday 27th August Townhouse - Handle Hall - Windy Bank (5 miles)
Meet Littleborough station car park at 2.00 pm.
Leader: J. Taylor

Sunday 10th September Mytholmroyd Circular (5 miles)
Meet Littleborough station car park at 1.30 pm.
Leader: G. Sutcliffe

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