View over Stalybridge
|Dialling code:||0161 / 01457|
|Stalybridge and Hyde|
Stalybridge is a town in north-eastern Cheshire, on the border with Lancashire. It lies at the eastern edge of the conurbation of towns that spread out from Manchester across southern Lancashire and northern Cheshire. Stalybridge is nine miles east of Manchester city centre and six miles north-west of Glossop (Derbyshire). It had a population of 22,568 as at the 2001 Census.
With the construction of a cotton mill in 1776, Stalybridge became one of the first centres of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. The wealth created in the 19th century from the factory-based cotton industry transformed an area of scattered farms and homesteads into a self-confident town. Due to the decline of the cotton industry in the first quarter of the 20th century and the development of modern low density housing in the post-war period, the town is now semi-rural in character.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Churches
- 3 History
- 4 Environment
- 5 Traditions
- 6 Media
- 7 Stalybridge on film
- 8 Transport links
- 9 Sport
- 10 Outside links
- 11 References
The town centre itself is situated along the banks of the river between Ridge Hill to the north and Hough Hill (801 feet) to the south. The local bedrock is millstone grit, covered by a thin layer of soil over clay, with surface rock outcrops.
Over the course of the 20th century the population of the town declined, after the demolition of the mid-19th century high density housing. At the 2001 census Stalybridge had a population of 22,568. The town includes the localities of Heyheads, Buckton Vale, Carrbrook, Millbrook, Brushes, Copley, Mottram Rise, Woodlands, Matley, Hough Hill, Castle Hall, Hollins Street}, Hydes, Rassbottom, Waterloo, Cocker Hill, the Hague, Springs, Ridge Hill and Heyrod.
Until the 18th century the Manor of Staley formed part of the parish of St Michael and All Angels, Mottram. The first church to be built in Stalybridge was Old St George's Church, Cocker Hill, consecrated in 1776, which church collapsed on 15 May 1778.
After the Industrial Revolution the population grew rampidly and many denominations established themselves in the new town. The first Methodist chapel was erected in 1802 on the corner of Chapel Street and Rassbottom Street. The Baptist chapel on King Street, was opened by the Particular (Ebenezer) Baptists. This chapel was subsequently occupied by the Congregational Church on 3 October 1830. The Particular (Ebenezer) Baptists moved to a new chapel on Cross Leech Street on 28 October 1828.
- Church of England:
- Holy Trinity and Christ Church, on the Cheshire side and in the Diocese of Chester, in the town centre on Trinity Street
- St George's is the parish church for the Lancashire side of the town, north of the Tame and river in the Diocese of Manchester. It is known as New St George's and its foundation stone was laid on 24 June 1840.
- Congregationalist: Stalybridge Congregational
- Independent Evangelical:
- Methodist: Stalybridge Methodist Church on High Street
- Roman Catholic:
- St Peter's, Stalybridge
- St Raphael's, Millbrook
Neolithic or early Bronze Age remains have been found here, and the Stalybridge cairns on the summit of Hollingworthall Moorbear witness of early Bronze Age hands. One of the round cairns is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The village here was originally called Stavelegh, from the Old English stæf leah ("stave meadow"). The mediæval Lords of the manor took de Stavelegh as their name, later becoming Stayley or Staley. The lordship of Longdendale was one of the ancient feudal estates of Cheshire and included the area of Stalybridge. William de Neville was the first lord of Longdendale, appointed by the Earl of Chester between 1162 and 1186. Buckton Castle, near Stalybridge, was probably built by William de Neville in the late 12th century. As this was the only castle within the lordship it was probably the seat of the de Nevilles. The lordship of Longdendale included the manors of Staley, Godley, Hattersley, Hollingworth, Matley, Mottram, Newton, Tintwistle and Werneth; the manor of Staley was first mentioned between 1211 and 1225.
The first records of the de Stavelegh family as Lords of the Manor date from the early 13th century. Staley Hall was their residence. The present hall was built in the late 16th century on the same site as an earlier hall of the Stayley family, dating from before 1343.
Early modern Stalybridge
Sir Ralph Staley had no male heirs and after his death his daughter, Elizabeth Staley, married Sir Thomas Assheton, uniting the manors of Ashton and Staley. Elizabeth and Thomas had two daughters and no sons. Margaret, the eldest of their two daughters married Sir William Booth of Dunham Massey The younger daughter, Elizabeth, was widowed without children. She continued to live at Staley Hall until her death in 1553. In her will her share of the lordships of Staley and Ashton were left to the Booths.
Staley Bridge was built in 1707.
The manor of Staley remained in the possession of the Booth family until the death of George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington on 2 August 1758. Upon his death, the Earldom of Warrington became extinct. His only daughter, Lady Mary Booth, the wife of Henry Grey, 4th Earl of Stamford, inherited all the Booth estates. The manor of Staley was owned by the Grey family until the extinction of the Earldoms on the death of Roger Grey, 10th Earl of Stamford in 1976. At this point the family estates were dispersed. Stamford Street, Grey Street, Groby Street, Stamford Park, Stamford Golf Club and the two Stamford Arms public houses in Stalybridge are all named after the Grey family.
As Stayley expanded in the 18th century, it reached the banks of the River Tame. The construction of the bridge in 1707 meant the village was now commonly referred to as Stalybridge. By the mid-18th century Stalybridge had a population of just 140. Farming and woollen spinning were the main means subsistence at this time.
In 1776 the town's first water-powered mill for carding and spinning cotton was built at Rassbottom. In 1789 the town's first spinning mill using the principle of Arkwright's Water Frame was built. By 1793 steam power had been introduced to the Stalybridge cotton industry and by 1803 there were eight cotton mills in the growing town containing 76,000 spindles. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal was completed in 1811 and still runs through the town.
The rapid growth of industry in Stalybridge was due to the introduction of machinery. This was, however, met with violent opposition. After the arrival of the Luddites in the area the doors of mills were kept locked day and night. Military aid was requested by the mill owners and a regiment under the Duke of Montrose was sent to the town. It was led by Captain Raines who made his headquarters at the Roe Cross Inn. The Luddite disturbances began in November 1811: gangs of armed men destroyed power looms and fired mills. The disturbances in Stalybridge culminated with a night of violent rioting on 20 April 1812
The social unrest did not curb the growth of Stalybridge. By 1814 there were twelve factories and by 1818 the number had increased to sixteen. The Industrial Revolution led to a rapid increase in the town's population in the early part of the 19th century. The population of the town by 1823 was 5,500. In the following two years, due in part to an influx of Irish families seeking better wages, the population rose to 9,000. Stalybridge was among the first wave of towns to establish a Mechanics' Institute with a view to educating the growing number of workers. Only a year after the establishment of Manchester Mechanics' Institute, Stalybridge founded an Institute of its own. Its doors opened on 7 September 1825 on Shepley Street with a reading room on Queen Street.
On 9 May 1828 the Stalybridge Police and Market Act received Royal Assent, establishing Stalybridge as an independent town with a board of 21 Commissioners. Every male over the age of 21 who was the occupier of a rateable property under the act was entitled to vote at the election of the Commissioners. On 30 December 1831 the town hall and market were officially opened. In 1833 the Commissioners set up the 'Stalybridge Police Force', which was the first of its kind in the country. By this year the population of the town had reached 14,216 with 2.357 inhabited houses.
In 1834 a second bridge was built over the Tame. It was downstream of Staley bridge and constructed of iron.
The second Chartist petition was presented to Parliament in April 1842. Stalybridge contributed 10,000 signatures. After the rejection of the petition the first general strike began in the coal mines of Staffordshire. The second phase of the strike originated in Stalybridge.
A movement of resistance to the imposition of wage cuts in the mills, also known as the Plug Riots, it spread to involve nearly half a million workers throughout Britain and represented the biggest single exercise of working class strength in 19th century Britain. On 13 August 1842 there was a strike at Bayley's Cotton Mill in Stalybridge, and roving cohorts of operatives carried the stoppage first to the whole area of Stalybridge and Ashton, then to Manchester, and subsequently to towns adjacent to Manchester, using as much force as was necessary to bring mills to a standstill. The movement remained, to outward appearances, largely non-political. Although the "People's Charter" was praised at public meetings, the resolutions that were passed at these were in almost all cases merely for a restoration of the wages of 1820, a ten-hour working day, or reduced rents.
In writing The Condition of The Working Class in England (1844), Friedrich Engels the early Communist used Stalybridge as an example:
... multitudes of courts, back lanes, and remote nooks arise out of [the] confused way of building ... Add to this the shocking filth, and the repulsive effect of Stalybridge, in spite of its pretty surroundings, may be readily imagined.
John Summers first established an iron forge in Stalybridge in the 1840s. Later, he and his sons developed this into a major business, and employed over 1,000 local men in their factory, the largest in the town.
The Ashton, Stalybridge and Liverpool Junction Railway Company was formed in 19 July 1844 and the railway was connected to Stalybridge on 5 October 1846. On 9 July 1847 the company was acquired by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. On 1 August 1849 the Manchester, Stockport and Leeds Railway connected Stalybridge to Huddersfield and later to Stockport. This line later became part of the London and North Western Railway.
The cotton famine
On the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, the Stalybridge cotton mills rapidly ran short of cotton. Thousands of operatives were laid off. In October 1862, a meeting was held in the Stalybridge Town Hall which passed a resolution blaming the Confederate States of America and their actions in the American Civil War for the cotton famine in Lancashire. By the winter of 1862–1863 there were 7,000 unemployed operatives in the town. Only five of the town's 39 factories and 24 machine shops were employing people full-time. Contributions were sent from all over the world for the relief of the cotton operatives in Lancashire; and at one point three-quarters of Stalybridge workers were dependent on relief schemes. By 1863 there were 750 empty houses in the town. A thousand skilled men and women left the town, in what became known as "The Panic".
In 1863 the relief committee decided to substitute a system of relief by ticket instead of money. The tickets were to be presented at local grocers shops. An organised resistance was organised culminating on Friday 20 March 1863.
In 1867 Stalybridge was disturbed by the arrival of William Murphy. Records of this man indicate that his sole interest was to sow the seeds of dissent between Roman Catholics, who by this time had grown to significant proportions, and Protestants. He succeeded in this goal only too well for a full year. During 1868 there were a number of violent disturbances and rioting created by this man who described himself as a "renegade Roman Catholic". In his lectures to the public "pretending to expose the religious practices of the Roman Catholic Church", he became a master at whipping up a crowd into a frenzy. Newspaper reports of the time told of his common practice of waving a revolver in the air in "a most threatening manner". On one occasion he incited a riot of such proportions that Fr. Daley, the parish priest of St Peter's took to the roof of the church to defend it. A man was shot. The parish priest was tried but eventually acquitted at the Quarter Sessions. Following this incident, the community began to settle down and Murphy chose to extend his political activities elsewhere.
In 1867, the Victoria Bridge on Trinity Street was built. The Victoria Market Hall was constructed in 1868 and the public baths were opened in May 1870. The baths were presented as a gift to the town by philanthropists and benefactors Robert Platt (1802–1882), born in Stalybridge, and his wife Margaret Platt (1819–1888), born in Salford in Lancashire.
The Stalybridge Borough Band was formed in March 1871, holding its first rehearsals and meetings at the Moulder's Arms, Grasscroft Street, Castle Hall. The band was known as the 4th Cheshire Rifleman Volunteers (Borough Band) until 1896. The founder and first conductor was Alexander Owen who conducted the band until at least 1907.
The character of Stalybridge altered over the 20th century. At the turn of the century the cotton industry was still strong and the population of the town reached its peak in 1901, at 27,623, but as trade dwindled the population began to decline and, despite the intensified employment of the war years, the main industry of Stalybridge continued to fail.
Mrs Ada Summers was elected first woman mayor of Stalybridge in November 1919. At that time mayors of boroughs were justices, as well as chairmen of borough benches, by right of office. However, it was not until the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 came into force on 23 December 1919 that women could become magistrates. Sitting ex-officio Ada Summers became the first woman magistrate in the country and was sworn in on 31 December. Ada Summers was, probably, the first woman to officially adjudicate in court. Ada Summers photo appeared in the weekly journal Great Thoughts, 5 June 1920, alongside an interview on "The First Woman JP" on her work. Ada Summers was the widow of a local ironmaster. She was an active suffragist and Liberal and used her wealth and position to support a number of schemes designed to improve conditions in the town. These included a maternity and child welfare clinic, clinics for the sick and poor and an unofficial employment centre. She later became an alderman and was appointed MBE. On 31 May 1939 she was awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Borough.
In 1929, with no room for expansion at Stalybridge, the Summers sheet rolling and galvanising plants were transferred to Shotton in Flintshire, having devastating effects on local employment; the new plant later became a major component in the British Steel Corporation. By 1932, seven of the town's largest mills had closed and unemployment reached 7,000. In 1934 the borough council set up an Industrial Development Committee for the purpose of encouraging new industries to settle in the town. The committee purchased Cheetham's Mill and rented it out to small firms engaged in a wide variety of enterprises. By 1939 unemployment in the town had almost disappeared.
Stalybridge experienced intensive black-out periods and frequent air-raid warning during the Second World War. Bombs dropped by enemy aircraft mainly landed in open country and there were no civilian casualties. On 19 July 1946 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Stalybridge. The town's war memorial was extended after the war, to bear the names of an extra 124 men from the town; it was unveiled on 23 April 1950.
In the post-war period council housing was provided by the local authority as separate council estates. The 'Buckton Vale' estate was built between January 1950 and March 1953; the 'Stamford Park' estate between January 1953 and January 1955, the 'Copley' estate commenced building in August 1954 and the 'Ridgehill' estate in January 1956.
In 1955, after the adoption of the first 'post-war slum clearance plan', new housing estates were built to replace the slums and, gradually, redundant textile mills were occupied by firms in the various light industries. New applications of engineering principles, the manufacture of rubber goods, plastics, chemicals and packaging materials were all introduced, as well as the addition of synthetic fibres to the textile trade, reducing unemployment.
On 19 October 1970, a frightened red deer registered a speed of 42 mph on a police radar trap as it charged down a Stalybridge street. The early 1970s saw the development of private semi-detached and detached housing estates, particularly in the Mottram Rise, Hough Hill, Hollins and Carrbrook areas; the redevelopment of Castle Hall was also completed.
The construction of the Buckton Vale overspill estate also took place in the early 1970s.
The early 1980s saw the closure of the public baths after the completion of Copley Recreation Centre. One of the symbols of the late-19th century civic improvement, the baths were subsequently demolished.
In 1991, for the first time since 1901, there was an increase in the population of Stalybridge to 22,295. The 1990s saw the proliferation of Mock Tudor style estates at Moorgate and along Huddersfield Road, close to Staley Hall, this continued into the 21st century with the completion of the Crowswood estate in Millbrook.
The Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which had been culverted in the early 1970s, was reinstated to the town centre between 1999 and May 2001 as part of a two-year, multimillion-pound refurbishment. The canal now runs under the legs of an electricity pylon. The market hall closed on New Year's Eve 1999 and became the Civic Hall in 2001. Four years later, the area designated for retail space became exhibition space. There were plans to reopen the market and let the retail hall out to private contractors, though this came to naught. The town's cinema, The Palace closed on 31 August 2003, with the last film being 'American Pie 3: The Wedding'. The Palace Cinema has since been converted to become Rififi Nightclub and Amber Lounge Bar & Restaurant, which itself was closed down late in 2012 after two violent incidents on the same night.
Much of the upland areas of the town are grouse moors. Boar Flat is part of the Dark Peak Site of Special Scientific Interest, as classified by Natural England. The slopes below the moors, particularly beneath Harridge Pike, are used for sheep grazing by the hill farms. The Stalybridge Country Park centres on two areas. Firstly, the Brushes Valley, with its four reservoirs running up into the Pennine Moors, and secondly Carrbrook, lying in the shadow of Buckton Castle. Linking the two areas, although outside the country park boundaries, is a good rights of way network, and designated access land which take visitors into the Tame Valley, Longdendale and the Peak District. The country park affords views of the Cheshire Plain, Jodrell Bank and on very clear days the mountains of Snowdonia.
Buckton Castle and Stalybridge cairn, a round cairn, west of Hollingworthhall Moor are both Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
The town's two parks are the main open spaces in the town centre. Cheetham Park was opened in June 1932 to a crowd of 15,000 people. The park was left to the town under the will of John Frederick Cheetham along with his house, Eastwood, and his collection of paintings, which now form part of the 'Astley Cheetham Art Gallery' collection. The park is landscaped informally with large areas of woodland. Adjacent to Cheetham's Park lies the Eastwood Nature Reserve. Eastwood was one of the first reserves to be owned by the RSPB. It is managed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve is a cut-over, lowland, raised mire SSSI, surrounded by a woodland fringe. Characteristic bog plants include sphagnum mosses, cotton grass and cross-leaved heath. Nine species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded on the reserve, along with the Green Hairstreak butterfly. The steep-sided broadleaved woodland is bisected by 'Acres Brook' and contains several old mill ponds. The geology is shale and sandstone, with a rich variety of plants and animals typical of woodland habitat on an acid soil. Access is from the A6018 Mottram Road. Car parking is available in Stalybridge Celtic FC's car park. The reserve occupies 11.6 acres.
Stamford Park is registered by English Heritage as being of special interest. In 1865, local mill owner Abel Harrison died and his home, Highfield House, and its extensive grounds, on the border with Ashton were bought by the two towns. Neighbouring land was donated by George Harry Grey, 7th Earl of Stamford and 3rd Earl of Warrington. The whole area was landscaped to become Stamford Park and opened, by the Earl on 12 July 1873. The former mill reservoir, known as 'Chadwick Dams', was incorporated into the park in 1891. The reservoir was divided in two by an embankment, with the southern section becoming the present boating lake. This area includes waterfalls cascading over rock faces and gargoyles built into the bridges and walls. The park has tennis courts, putting greens, bowling greens, a children's playground, paddling pool and an animal corner with a variety of birds and animals. The park is the venue for the annual 'Tulip Sunday Festival'.
Whit Friday, the first Friday after Whitsun, is marked in areas of north-east Cheshire, south-east Lancashire and the western fringes of the West Riding of Yorkshire. The day has a cultural significance in Stalybridge as the date on which the annual Whit Walks were traditionally held. It is also the day on which the traditional annual Whit Friday brass band contests are held.
The wakes were originally church festivals that commemorated church dedications. Particularly important was the Rushcart festival associated with Rogationtide. During the Industrial Revolution the tradition of the wakes was adapted into a regular summer break in the mill towns of Lancashire and Cheshire, where each locality would nominate a wakes week during which the cotton mills would all close at the same time. Stalybridge Wakes occurs in the third week of July. Wakes Week became the focus for fairs, and eventually for holidays where the mill workers would go to the seaside, eventually on the newly developing railways.
Food and drink
Stalybridge has the public house with the longest name in Britain – The Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn – and also the one with the shortest; Q.
The restoration of the canal between 1999 and 2001 attracted new commercial ventures such as riverside cafés and boat trips. The reopening of the canal and the fact that the Tame runs through the town centre resulted in the nickname Little Venice. Stalybridge has in recent years, acquired another nickname, Stalyvegas, at first coined as a reaction to a council traffic management plan which included a large number of traffic lights surrounding the main shopping centre, making it difficult to access the shops, the nickname became popular and was used ironically after the controversial conversion of premises in the shopping area into nightclubs and bars, the proliferation of takeaways and the refurbishment of some of the more traditional |pubs.
The town's traditional foods include Tater Pie (Potato Pie, or Meat and Potato Pie), a variation on Lancashire Hotpot, black peas, today mainly eaten on Whit Friday, and tripe. Stalybridge is the location of the region's last remaining tripe shop.
- The Stalybridge Reporter, established in 1855
- The North Cheshire Herald
- The Tameside Advertiser, established in 1979
Stalybridge on film
The town has been used for location shoots for various film and television series. The most notable of these was the John Schlesinger film Yanks which featured Richard Gere and was released in 1979. The opening sequence of the film features Stalybridge war memorial on Trinity Street and the US army camp scenes were filmed at Stamford Golf Club in spring 1978.
Scenes from several television programmes have been filmed here, including Coronation Street, Making Out, Common As Muck and The League of Gentlemen
The Huddersfield Narrow Canal passing through Stalybridge is part of the South Pennine Ring and runs from the junction with the Huddersfield Broad Canal near Aspley Basin at Huddersfield to the junction with the Ashton Canal at Whitefields Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne. The canal was completed in 1811, but was closed to navigation in 1951. It was reopened in 2001 and is now managed by the Canal and River Trust.
- Archery: Stalybridge Archery Club, founded in 1958
- Athletics: East Cheshire Harriers, founded in 1922
- Stayley Millbrook CC
- Stalybridge St Paul's CC
- Football: Stalybridge Celtic, founded 1909
- Golf: Stamford Golf Club, an 18-hole course. It was incorporated in 1901 and was named after the local landowner, the Earl of Stamford.
- Tennis: Priory Tennis Club
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