The proposed canalside development at Ealees has provoked strong reactions from organisations and individuals. We are devoting a substantial part of the Newsletter to this, including the LCT’s formal response and personal reactions from two LCT members.
The following is the text of a letter sent in April by LCT Secretary Iain Gerrard to Liz Mears (now Liz Patel) of the Rochdale Development Agency and copied to all the Littleborough councillors:
"Dear Miss Mears
"We are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the latest proposals for the Canal Street site at Ealees. We felt the response form supplied to the public was less than adequate hence this letter.
"After some debate I have to tell you that having waited one month short of two years for the 'preferred developer' to respond to the objections and criticisms voiced at the public meeting held to view the first proposals in 2004 we are extremely disappointed.
"The developer has failed to take on board most of the matters considered unsuitable for the site. The impression we have gained, by increasing the number of apartments to almost double that previously proposed, is that Littleborough residents' opinions have been ignored against the need, seen by both the developer and, apparently, the Rochdale Development Agency, to ensure maximum profit is obtained from the development.
"Almost no account appears to have been taken of the requirements laid out in the Development Brief for the site, nor of the Unitary Development Plan for Rochdale (in particular that part which refers to the Rochdale Canal - R/32), nor of the Littleborough Town Design Statement (which I would remind you is a Statutory Planning Guidance document attached to the UDP), nor of the Rochdale Canal Regeneration strategy. In addition no consideration appears to have been given to the adjacent listed structure, the railway viaduct, the Red Lion complex to the north of the site or to the close proximity to the Central Conservation Area.
"To avoid complying with all these items almost amounts to a talent in itself.
"The use of a number of different materials, particularly brick, is perverse when all adjacent buildings that will remain are in stone.
"The height of the block adjacent to the canal is too great. No building on the site or in the vicinity is this high. It will overshadow the viaduct and will probably be visible above it from within the conservation area. The block itself appears as a cliff face alongside the canal which with the barrier walls along the towpath combines to sever any relationship between the site and the canal.
"While the provision of a pub will probably take business from both the Waterside and the Red Lion it is seen as probably the only good idea for the whole site.
"Littleborough already has a plethora of restaurants, take-aways and wine bars, yet the only thing which would give the restaurant proposed for the site any distinction from all the others, its proximity to the canal, has been ignored. Should a restaurant be felt viable it should be on the towpath edge not tucked away within the site.
"The first thing any boater coming under Ben Healey Bridge will see will be a car park. This was criticised in the first proposal.
"It goes without need for emphasis that further dwellings in Littleborough without a significant improvement to local services and infrastructure are undesirable. The suggestion promulgated that these apartments will attract people who will be happy to commute to Manchester from the nearby station is not a given. It is equally likely, given the price tag on such dwellings, that the future occupants will not find work in Littleborough, but will commute to other places and probably by car.
"To summarise we would prefer buildings built in stone (not applied stone -for which read concrete - facing slabs) with pitched roofs covered in slate and of a maximum of two storeys. Clever design might allow a third storey, say to accommodate maisonettes over shops, where the third storey is within the roof space. More shops of a specialist nature are needed to help attract people to the site and off the boats. These need not necessarily be canal-related, but where they are they should not conflict with the marina at Durn site.
"The way through the site from the canal to the town needs greater emphasis. It should not be beyond the ability of the designers or the pocket of the developer to have a water feature giving this direction more prominence. Indeed the more open this town approach is made the more possibilities there could be for charity stands or an occasional local market.
"I regret to say that if these proposals go ahead without significant alterations more in the spirit of the design brief we would have to register our complete objection to them.
"Iain S Gerrard (Secretary)"
(CPRE Planning Volunteer)
Oh dear, what a calamity! I mean the second attempt by Brothers Developments to plan the development on the canal bank at Ealees.
The buildings which were mysteriously demolished, practically overnight, whilst the first scheme was being planned, were perfectly in tune with present day design and materials and followed the latest planning guidance.
Future vision? I hope not. The artist's impression in the Observer on March 29th resembles a 1960s bus shelter alongside an old cotton mill that has lost its roof. Five storeys high, flat roofed in Lancashire's rainy climate, twee continental-type café scene, six ornamental, park-type trees but nothing at all that relates to the canal and its history. Is this regeneration? I think not.
If we've forgotten what buildings were there before the developers came along, walk along the canal to Gauxholme and view the warehouses, low rise and stone built, stone arched bridges, natural wooded banks and flowery meadows.
Not all John Prescott's ideas for improving the planning system became law. There's one important clause that did, however. It states that developers should use local materials and designs in order to harmonise with what's there already. Which bit of Littleborough would be enhanced by these totally mismatched designs? None of it!
Do the developers and planners not realise that if two similar applications are turned down and the last one goes to appeal and is rejected again, then this firm can make no further applications on this site? That would be the end of the matter.
The area currently called the Ealees Development Area has always been an important and interesting part of Littleborough. Its history is closely linked to that of the Rochdale Canal. Some of us will remember what it was like when the canal was closed. There was an unforgettable plan to put sections of it up for sale to allow home owners to extend their gardens and other, similar creative ideas.
In the period when the re-opening of the canal was being planned, we struggled to get our Authority to recognise the importance of parts of it, especially the strip between Ealees and Durn. Something was finally achieved when both areas were included in the Rochdale Unitary Development Plan review for 2001-6. This gave them some protection from abuse and a better chance of appropriate development.
Protected by the UDP status, little further development happened, but the time came when something positive had to be done. There was a period of rumours and proposed commercial development alternating with periods of inactivity. Finally there was the physical destruction of a number of the old buildings we had always thought would be merged into any new development (photographed below during their demolition).
The old Wharf buildings at Canal Wharf
This was the `lowest point' (we all hope) of the Ealees experience and the long struggle began: to recover everything possible and to enhance what was left in a feasible way.
The LCT contribution was to produce a community created Town Design Statement for Littleborough and a book outlining our heritage in terms of buildings, traditions etc. to support the design statement. Our Authority has mounted resource and effort to arrive at the point where there is a reasonably clear statement of the current thinking about the development of the Ealees Site.
All is not yet agreed, but there is a plan that those who are to carry it through say is viable. It was seen as advanced enough to be made available for public inspection over a four day period at the Coach House, where anyone was able to discuss their concerns or suggestions with members of our Authority and the current proposed Developers.
To give you a feel of what is under discussion, here is a summary of the comments of a group composed of four of the people who had examined this problem in depth to help create the Town Design Statement. Our response was essentially positive. The provision of a high quality public space for events/entertaining and an underground car park were readily accepted as very encouraging features. We also put in a number of new suggestions which were well received by the team presenting the plan.
A major part of the project is given over to housing in one big block, five stories high. This is the economic engine that makes the whole project viable. We established that the materials to be used are stone, artificial stone and brick. We asked for special attention to be paid to the wall facing the canal with inset windows and doors and for an appropriate expert to assess the depth etc. of the recesses and the effect of sunlight. They assured us this could happen. We recorded a desire to see the material when a plan was developed.
We addressed the roof of the building and its dominant importance in the landscape. We specifically wanted an assurance there would be no flag-poles, heating units etc. perched on the roof. They agreed to this and were interested in the fact that Gordon Harvey had skilfully made his shed roofs at Rock Nook look like part of a Baronial House and genuinely appeared interested in going to see it.
We then turned to the other proposed buildings on the site. We rejected the idea of a family pub on the site: Littleborough is littered with pubs. We suggested the need for a small modern hotel if we are to kick start a tourist industry in the upper Roch valley. The presenters agreed they did not have experience in that area, and undertook to do further research on issues such as the numbers of bedrooms needed to make a hotel viable.
A restaurant was agreed as was a retail unit. There was agreement that any retail unit must not threaten existing businesses in the town and this must be discussed with the existing shop owners and traders.
We discussed the provision of a number of rooms classed as "community" to be available to the Littleborough Historical & Archeological Society for general use and for the storage of their collections. Further discussion with the people involved is required on what is desirable and feasible.
We added a strong request for a play area for children, visible to the apartments but with no access to the canal. This was clearly something that had never been discussed. It will be evaluated, and local families and children's groups should be consulted.
In all it was an enjoyable session and we went away to declare our personal views on a form provided for that purpose.
The AGM of the Littleborough Civic Trust was held in April. Two new members, Kate and Robert Morton, were welcomed to the committee, bringing its strength to 15. See the inside front cover of this Newsletter for details of the current committee.
As part of her report, the Treasurer extended her thanks to Teamprint who have printed our Newsletter without charge for the past year.
After the meeting there was an illustrated talk by Peter Rhodes of the Peak & Northern Footpath Society on "Preserving our Footpath Heritage". The Society has been very active in dealing with problems such as blocked paths on behalf of walkers since 1894. Its teams are active in a wide area of the Peak District and North West England. For more information on the activities of the society and how to become involved in their work, go to the website at www.peakandnorthern.org.uk. The LCT has made a small donation to the Society in gratitude for the talk.
Wardens at Hollingworth Lake Country Park are currently involved in putting a number of local woodlands through a Forestry Commission Certification process, which, if successful, would result in Rochdale MBC receiving a small annual grant for the management of the woods.
The woods in question are Barker's Wood, Summit Quarry, Shop Wood (behind Calderbrook Terrace) and a number of the woods around Hollingworth Lake. As many LCT members will know, Barker's Wood is of particular interest as the Trust was instrumental in its creation. This was made possible by a bequest from a member, the late Marjorie Barker, in whose memory the wood in Middle Starring is named.
As part of the certification process, management plans and maps for the woods are being created. It is hoped that a ranger will be appointed for each wood, and local people are being encouraged to get involved via "friends of" groups. We will keep you informed of the progress of this very welcome initiative in future issues of the Newsletter.
I want to tell you about a new opportunity for a project and solicit some help. This new project has a little background.
Some years ago, we heard complaints about a big display board outside Littleborough station saying "Welcome to Rochdale". We do not know how many people, if any, actually got off at the wrong station!
Welcome to...the right place!
This seemed a potentially good project and three members of the Trust set out to tackle it. The existing display board was very "weather worn". A tactful approach to our Authority found a new board stored below the Town Hall. We thought replacing the text might be a very good project to involve our local schools in. Why not make a competition and invite them to submit their ideas of what should be displayed? We raised £40 for a prize for the best material. This was a great success and five schools contributed much of the material you have been able to look at in recent years.
Finally we got much help from the authority with the layout of "our" side of the display board and of course their input on the other side. It was finished and duly erected. It is my opinion that it has given much pleasure over many years.
Everything eventually gets old and signage is no exception. The Township has recently made a capital allocation to upgrade our information boards. With great help from our Township Manager the Civic Trust has gained the privilege of being able to run another project along the same lines that we did before. We will set up the project, create a competition and invite all our schools, and promote a prize of £80. Civic trust member Bob Morton has undertaken to contact the heads of local schools to invite their participation.
We will be encouraged to discuss the material with our Authority, for both sides of the new display. Further: we can have advice on the best way to compile and assemble the material to achieve a really good display.
My reason for writing this piece is that we have made a start on the project, but we would like one or two volunteers from the community to help us. One need is for someone to help and guide the school groups if they join in. We have plenty of ideas but if you just like drawing or photography or enjoy considering what you would like to see developing in the immediate future for Littleborough, we would like to hear from you.
If you would like to help, whether you are an LCT member or not, please make contact with me or any of the Committee Members listed on the inside front cover of this Newsletter.
97 Hare Hill Rd.
Telephone: 01706 378043 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Through the good offices of our Township Manager Sue Thornton, Rae and I had the opportunity to attend a one day Conference in Leeds. It was held in the very dignified Metropole Hotel in the centre of Leeds on the 24th March.
The title of the day was Green Infrastructure - Spaces for People and Prosperity. (My dictionary said infrastructure is `an organisation system' and green immediately suggests grass).
The focus was of course on Yorkshire, but in the Pennines we share a common history of heritage, geology and geography. We also share a common experience of boundless importance to us - the Industrial Revolution. Bearing in mind the responsibility our Pennine district carries for tourism and leisure within the overall pattern of our R.M.B.C. Renaissance Master Plan, it certainly looked as if it could be a well spent day. The day was also the occasion of the launch of `Pennine Prospects' the latest development of SCOSPA.
This is of great significance for any planned development in Littleborough, especially the Rock Nook area. It will be important for representatives of R.M.B.C who are connected with the Pennine developments to have a meeting as soon as possible with Pennine Prospects to both share information and create coherent strategies.
The Countryside Commission defined the day as appropriate for discussion of regional and local policy plans, landscape and urban and rural regeneration. And they wanted professionals in these areas to attend - so we went!
It was well run, and covered the results of a Yorkshire regional audit. Both the process and the outcome were reviewed. For comparison there were two very good presentations of the approaches and structures used in similar situations in France and the Netherlands.
Finally this section ended by considering some of our problems in Britain, with examples and the responses to the problems. The main example involved the Thames Gateway area which has been re-jigged and become more important and complex, with our award of the 2012 Olympics.
This material was fascinating in terms of the structures which need to be created to implement major projects and the wide range of people involved to make such activities both understood and accepted.
The material presented from Yorkshire built up the picture of their current activities and raised more ideas of what the Rochdale Pennine District must achieve to meet the stated design aims in our Renaissance Master Plan.
Immediately before lunch we learned something about the impact of significant development and new initiatives. There were also references to possible places to which we might apply for money and skills from Europe, to add to our own local efforts
The presenters were good, senior in their job positions and clearly aware of the pitfalls that await the unwary. One really exciting moment was to realise Pam Warhurst was playing a part in the Conference. She has a convincing record of local activity in Calderdale and an even larger range of responsibility today. Her determination to look forward and do the job right is legendary.
Both in quality and quantity the numbers of people in the audience were impressive, 12 from the Countryside Agency, 6 from Kirklees, 5 from Oldham, 7 from Rochdale and 5 from Government Trust to give a few examples. In all there must have been 100+ people. The outcome of such an informed group talking to such an experienced audience certainly guaranteed a high level of conversation.
Someone must have sensed a problem: since there was list (!) of 46 acronyms which might get used during the day!
The projects covered led to discussion on:
Fairly detailed material was included. The discussion outlined how major change or the restructuring of the pattern of living in an area. needs to be carefully researched and guided, with the co-operation of the local people. The change may be based on the demands of the people living there or it may have gradually become a necessity because of natural changes. The example in the Netherlands related to the gradual sinking of an area below sea level partially caused by human use and partly by natural earth movements.
The day's business was obviously focused onto Yorkshire, and their share of the Pennines. Nevertheless, in the informal atmosphere, it opened a discussion about the opportunities that are open to us all, and which opportunities can be initiated now with a real expectation of sensible success in the short term. No one can doubt that there are exciting opportunities. Contacts at the right levels, and flexibility and the timing of the project are all keys to successful projects.
To summarise, the day was very worthwhile, the knowledge and expertise exists which will help us to achieve our objectives. There was every indication that co-operation and common sense can give our share of the Masterplan a great boost in the Pennines district.
With a bit of luck and a lot of determination we should be able to move a long way towards our initial objectives in the Pennine District during the next year or two. Or: since I claim a little affinity to Yorkshire, which gave me an education and five happy years, I can say the Conference was A RIGHT GOOD DO.
A tribute on the occasion of the dedication of the memorial plaque at St. James Church, Calderbrook, Littleborough 25 March 2006
This is an extract from Rae Street's tribute. We will include a further extract in the next issue of the Newsletter.
Very few people in Littleborough have heard of Enid Stacy and probably even fewer know of why she was such an outstanding person. So here is a little of her story. This of course could be a typical Victorian tale of a short life of a beautiful young woman - she died aged only 35 in 1903 - and a tragic one. But there is much more to the story than that. During the 12 years of her outstanding political life she spoke to not just hundreds, but audiences of 1000's. Those thousands of people took `their first challenging look at the Society around them' after listening to her talks. She was said, by her great niece and biographer, Angela Tuckett, to be `an outstanding example of the spirit of her age'. 75 years after her death a building trade veteran could describe how moved he had been on first hearing her. Tom Mann, the famous socialist, said of her that there was no-one `more courageous than our Enid, and she could speak to thousands in the open air as though she was talking with each one in their home'.
She wasn't a music hall star, so there aren't many photos of her, but those we have do show how lovely looking she was - added to which everyone spoke of her vitality in whatever she was doing, but particularly when giving her speeches. As Angela said, `she involved her audience and they loved her'.
So why should we in Littleborough be interested in Enid? Well, for two years she lived here at Calderbrook Vicarage, where her husband, Percy Widdrington had obtained a living (nice how we used that old-fashioned word isn't it?) at the Anglican Church of St. James.
Two young descendents of Enid Stacy
place flowers on her grave, watched
by the Rev. Maureen Thorp, vicar of St. James.
A Seaside Childhood
She was born in 1868, the eldest of five, in Somerset, where her father was an artist who helped to found the local School of Art. She seems to have had a most happy and gloriously free childhood - not all Victorian childhoods were stuffy. The family lived at the seaside at Weston super Mare. It was not only happy but, one guesses, healthy too. They played on the sands, learnt to swim - Enid was a strong sea swimmer by all accounts - and went across for trips with the fishermen to the Channel Islands (that must have been quite an adventure). All the children became cyclists and you can picture them going round the countryside of north Somerset.
The Education Of A Socialist
In 1881 the family moved to Bristol and it was there that Enid's interest in social affairs and politics began to develop. At the end of the 19th century, many of England's towns were home to a host of reforming societies. This was especially true in Bristol where, with its tradition of Quakerism and Non-Conformism, self help and educational groups abounded (there was even then a Bristol and West of England Society for the Preservation of Footpaths!).
Receptive to all the new ideas of socialism, her parents were regular church-goers and Enid and her siblings went along too. From the first she had an eagerness for learning and the parents managed to find the money to send Enid to Redland High School for Girls. At sixteen, Enid passed what was termed the Senior Cambridge Certificate with flying colours. But the family were very poor so instead of staying on in full time education Enid stayed on as a student teacher. She managed eventually to reach her ambition of higher education and gained an external London degree in 1890 - quite remarkable for a woman then - from the University College of Cardiff.
Independent Labour Party
She had been reading more and more and she decided to go to the founding conference of the Independent Labour Party in Bradford in 1893. She joined and was soon knee deep in discussions with activists in the North. She rapidly became a sought after platform speaker.
Speaking And Travelling
She became better known after this and took on even more lecturing. She was averaging then 200 meetings a year. Here is an example which would have made the doughtiest traveller quail. Mind you the rail system must have been quite reliable in 1893!
Here is an extract from her diary:
`Spoke in Dunfermline in the evening, travelled to London through the night and then did meetings in the afternoon and evening of the next day. And then three meetings back in Scotland the next day.'
She spoke in Town Hall Square in Rochdale. One of her commentators said, `It was a red letter day when Enid spoke but when she stayed over she helped her hosts make the Christmas puddings'. (She appears to have loved baking - even though then it was a necessary chore if you didn't have a cook to do it for you).
She was fearless when speaking. When the police harassed her in Liverpool, she jumped on an open topped tram and addressed the crowd from aloft.
The following poem was given to my sister, who works in Olive Standring House, by Betty Drake, who lives there. I understand that it was given to Betty (of the Drakes of Slack Farm mentioned in the poem) by someone called Nightingale. If anyone knows more about the history of this poem, particularly who wrote it, please let me know and we will include the information in a future issue of the Newsletter.
Did you once go "Swaling" on those windswept hills?
Or play "Peggy" in a stallion nest?
Did you pick whinberries in the long summer days?
And eat them fresh, when they are best?
Did you know Salley Street, Smithy Nook, Lighthouse Store?
Were you afraid of Martin Thornley's cane?
Did you know Laws of the Forest -- they were not woodland rules
But lanky lads from the edge of the moor?
Have you followed a trail hunt across the moor
Or read Latin at Handle Hall?
Did you know Riggs and the Drakes of Slack Farm
Surely the tallest of them all?
Have you looked down on these mills with poetic names
Sladen Wood, Green Vale, Rock Nook,
And thought of Harveys as no less than kings,
And Alec Sandys as less than Archduke?
If you knew these things in those days long gone,
These dear dear days when we were young,
Then you've supped the "Ca' brook watter" and thanked your god
For making you a Calderbrook man.
The following witty re-arrangements of words and phrases have been spotted floating around the internet.
To appreciate the first illusion, stare at the black dot in the middle of the picture and move the page backwards and forwards.
Look at the second illusion and try to count the black dots!
Editor: Brian Walker