Rochdale - Encyclopedia

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ROCHDALE, a municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Lancashire, England, on the river Roch, roz m. N.N.E. from Manchester and 196 m. N.W. by N. from London, on the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway. Pop. (r 891) 76,161; (Igor) 83,114. By means of the Rochdale canal and connexions it has water communications in every direction. The site rises sharply from the Roch, near its confluence with the Spodden, and from the high-lying public park of Rochdale fine views of the picturesque neighbourhood are obtained. Several interesting old houses remain in the vicinity of the town. The parish church of St Chad is built on the site of a church erected in the 12th century, but itself retains no portion earlier than the Perpendicular period. In the churchyard is buried John Collier (1708-1786), a local author, artist and caricaturist, who was among the first to recognize and utilize in writing the humour of the Lancashire dialect, and attained considerable fame under the pseudonym of Tim Bobbin. The town hall is an extensive and elaborate structure in the Decorated style, with a tower. Of educational charities the principal is the Archbishop Parker free grammar school, founded in 1565. There are also technical and art schools; and a large Roman Catholic orphanage. Among other public institutions are the public library, the infirmary, the literary and scientific society and the art society. Rochdale was the birthplace of the co--operative movement. The Equitable Pioneers Society (1844) numbers over ri,000 members, with a capital of over 350,000. A handsome co-operative store, belonging to the Rochdale Provident Co-operative Society, was opened in 1900. A statue of John Bright (1891) recalls the connexion of the statesman and his family with Rochdale. The staple manufactures are those of woollens and cottons. There are, besides, foundries, iron-works and machine-factories. Coal and stone are obtained extensively in the neighbourhood. Frequent cattle and horse fairs are held. Rochdale was incorporated in 1856, and includes several townships. The corporation consists of a mayor, 10 aldermen and 30 councillors. The county borough was created in 1888. The parliamentary borough, which has returned one member since 1832, falls between the Middleton and Heywood divisions of the county. Area of municipal borough, 6446 acres.

Rochdale (Recedham, Rachedam, Rachedal) takes its name from the river on which it stands. A Roman road passed the site, and a Saxon castle stood in Castleton, one of the component parts of the town. In Edward the Confessor's reign most of the land was held by Gamel the Thane, but after the Conquest the manor probably came into the hands of Roger de Poictou, from whom it passed to the Lacys and like their other lands became merged in the duchy of Lancaster. From 1462 to 1625 the crown seems to have leased it to the Byron family. In 1625 Charles I. conveyed the manor in trust for the earl of Holdernesse, and in 1638 it was sold to Sir John Byron, afterwards Baron Byron of Rochdale, whose descendants held it till 1823 when it was sold to the Deardens. Manor courts are still held periodically. Henry III. in 1240-41 granted by charter to Edmund de Lacy the right to hold a weekly market on Wednesday and an annual fair on the feast of SS Simon and Jude (28th October). Early in George III.'s reign the market day was changed to Monday. Two of the early industries, cutlery and hat-making, date from about the middle of the 16th century. The woollen industry is generally, but erroneously, said to have been introduced by Flemish immigrants in Edward III.'s reign; but, with the cognate trades of dyeing and fulling, its importance only dates from the early part of the 17th century. It was not till 1795 that a cotton mill was built here, and in the latter half of the 18th century the town was famed for its woollen, not its cotton manufactures.

See H. Fishwick, History of the Parish of Rochdale (1889).

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